Fishing for just the right spot

CorrespondentOctober 16, 2013 

— Janie McRae stood at the pier railing, a scarf cinched tightly beneath her chin to prevent her hat from being blowninto the Atlantic by powerful autumn winds. She watched the tip of her fishing rod bobto the rhythm of the ocean’s roll, when suddenly she saw a jerk followed by several twitches.

She picked the rod up and began to reel. The handle turned sporadically, hauling a small but strong fish from the water.

“I’ve caught two spots already,” said the 82-year-old retiree. “I hope to catch a lot more.”

McRae had arrived at the pier early on Oct. 10. Her son, Willie McRae, had driven from Charlotte to her home in Roland to pick up her and her other son, Larry McRae, the day before.

“We would have brought her even if they weren’t biting,” said Willie McRae, 58, who works as an auto parts specialist in Charlotte. “We always plan a trip to bring her down to go fishing for her birthday, which was Oct. 5. We come down once or twice a year around this time because this is when the fish are usually biting.”

While some anglers on the pier had seen lots of spots the day before, a switch in the wind was blamed for the slower bite. But the blame could also have been placed on a lower tide – or simply because the large school that had swarmed the pier the previous morning had moved on.

Spots migrate south in advance of cooling water temperatures, as do many other species of saltwater fish. When news circulates that spots are biting, anglers from across the state and beyondget the word. With today’s social media, word spreads instantly. Kure Beach even has a live pier-cam.

“If you want to see if the spots are running, you can look at our pier cam on the website,” said Kure Beach Fishing Pier owner Mike Robertson. The parking lot is full when the fish are biting because everyone who catches fish tells their friends. You have to get here quickly. A run may start and last just a short time, or it can last a couple of days.”

Everyone on the pier was facing northward and into the wind. Robertson said spots see the pier and move around it like it was a solid wall. Sometimes the fish bite better as they move around the end. Other times the best action is at the surf end or in the middle. When anglers are standing shoulder to shoulder, it’s easy to see where the action is, but finding a place to stand and make a cast is a different matter.

When Janie McRae was there, there were only a few dozen anglers. Despite the cold, windy weather that usually brings on the spots, the action was tepid. Larry McRae baited his two-hook bottom rig with inch-long pieces of bloodworm.

“We brought redworms, too,” said Larry McRae, a 61-year-old retired trucker. “But when they are biting slow like they are today, bloodworms are the best, but red worms are less expensive.”

Willie McRae said the family stayed in the area and fished for at least two days, anticipating that the action would pick up. Janie McRae said she has been coming to Kure Beach Fishing Pier for three years. Before that, she fished at Holden Beach with friends who had a house there.

“The people I used to fish with at Holden Beach have passed,” she said. “I can fish all day and come back the next day to fish some more. It’s in my heart.”

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