TACKLE TUESDAY – THE SPANISH HAVE ARRIVED – 5/22/2018
Warmer weather is finally here and the sand fleas are beginning to show up in the surf.Today we are going to talk about how to catch sand fleas which are one of the best summer baits.They are great for catching sea mullet, pompano, sheepshead, flounder, red drum and black drum.
Sand fleas can be found in the “swash zone”.Per the the Institute of Marine and Environmental Studies, the swash zone is the part of the beach where waves crash and wash back into the ocean. Sand fleas live here because they depend on the action of the waves to bring them plankton and other organic debris that they feed on.”
In order to spot sand fleas, look for the “V” shaped pattern they leave in the swash zone.
One you have spotted them as the wave retreats, you can place the rake on the sand, with the mouth facing away from the ocean, wait for the water to come over the top and then pull the rake toward you to gather a scoop of sand, then let the water wash through the rake and if you are lucky, you will be left with a handful of awesome bait.Be sure to dig down into the sand as the sand fleas dig fast. The ones that have orange egg masses are best but they will all work well.The best way to keep them alive is to drill holes in the bottom of a Challenge Bait Bucket (available at Frank and Fran’s) and store the sandfleas in a cooler or refrigerator. They will live for a few days with this approach.
Once you have caught some sand fleas, you can hook them on a standard double bottom rig with small (size 2 or 4) hooks. As with everything in fishing, everyone has their own preference on how to do this.We have a debate at the shop on how to hook the sand flea so I will share both approaches, neither is right or wrong, it is just preference.One method is to run the hook threw the back of the shell into the eggs, as the fish suck the eggs out, if the barb of the hook is in the eggs you snag the fish as it sucks up the eggs. Another option is to run the hook up from the bottom side of the sand flea and push the point of the hook through the upper side of the shell. Cast them out a short distance and wait for your rod tip to bend!
Catching sand fleas can be a lot of fun, especially for kids.I have seen kids stay busy for hours catching sand fleas on the beach.If you don’t want to dig for sand fleas, you can always buy frozen ones from Frank & Fran’s.
TACKLE TUESDAY – THE SPANISH HAVE ARRIVED – 5/15/2018
For some hot fast paced action, the Spanish Mackerel bite can’t be beat.The Spanish has started showing up in the surf so read down to learn how to target these fish for some great fun.
Last week we talked about the wind direction and its effect on the water.Spanish mackerel fishing is best when the water is clear so that you can cast right towards them.This means that a northeast or east wind is best for Spanish fishing on the south beaches and a southwest or west wind is best for Spanish fishing on the north beaches.If the water is clear enough, you can see them piled up in the waves making it easy to cast right to them.
Now, let’s talk gear and what you need to get the spanish mackerel to strike.For a rod, a 9 – 10.5’ rod that can throw up to 3 oz. will work well.These fish are fast and like to go after fast bait so a high speed reel such as the Okuma Cedros or Trios reels are great.
The best lures for Spanish are anything shiny such as Acme casting spoons, Bowed Up Lure trolling spoons, Clarkspoons, glass minnows, stingsilvers and Hopkins lures tied to a three foot, twenty pound fluorocarbon leader.Cast the lure out as far as you can and reel it back in quickly.If everyone around you is catching Spanish and you are catching blue fish, you should retrieve your lure faster.
If you prefer pier fishing over surf fishing, there are Spanish being caught at the Avon pier.Gotcha plugs work well from the pier.For Gotcha plugs to be effective, you will need to work the plug by jigging your rod as you crank the reel. The goal is to make the plug look like it is swimming.Many Spanish are caught right at or under the pier so be sure and reel it all the way up to the pier.
If you have a boat, Spanish can be caught by using Bowed Up Lure trolling spoons or Clarkspoons trolled 4 – 5 knots behind the boat.
Here are some pictures of the lures that we recommend and have in stock.Stop in and we can help get you set up.
TACKLE TUESDAY – WILL THE FISH BE THERE? - MAY 8, 2018
You have waited all year to head back to our peaceful little sandbar for some well-deserved relaxation and fishing.You know you will be able to find a way to relax but now you want to know if you will be able to find the fish.As your vacation nears, you want to know the answer to this question so what do you do, call Frank and Fran’s and ask if the fish will be biting when you’ll be here and our response is always, well, “it depends”.
Fishing here on the island is very dependent upon the weather.In the spring, fish begin to migrate back to the surf as the water starts to warm up.The water warms up when the southwest winds blow and push the warm water back in.
In the words of Frank Folb, “The island is shaped like a pork chop” as you can see in the image below.Most of the Outer Banks runs north to south but on Hatteras Island the pork chop bone bends and turns and runs east to west and that area is known as Cape Point.As you can see in the image when the wind is blowing out of the southwest, warm water is pushed up to the south side of Cape Point and this helps to bring the fish to the surf.In the spring, we look for a southwest wind to bring the fish in.A light southwest wind is preferable though as a long sustained southwest wind can cause rough conditions making it difficult to fish.
In reverse, a northeast wind tends to push cold water into the north side of Cape Point in the spring.A northeast or east wind also makes fishing from the beach miserable unless you are looking for a free skin exfoliation!If you really want to fish on days where the wind is out of the northeast or east, it is best to go to the south side of the island so that the wind is at your back.
In the fall, a light northeast wind can be good as it helps to cool the water and helps it clear up bringing the fish back to the surf.
West winds are not good as far as surf fishing as they create dirty water and poor fishing conditions.West winds are good for sound fishing though as it pushes the fish up to the sound side beaches.
It is also important to know how to check the sea surface temperature maps so that you can plan your fishing spot.Sea surface temperature maps can be found on the Rutgers University site located here:https://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/sat_data/?nothumbs=0&product=sst®ion=capehat.Here is a sample map, the yellow areas are in the upper 60’s so those would be the best areas to fish at the time this satellite image was taken.If you see a sea surface map that has no color and shows everything as white, this means that there is too much cloud coverage for an image to be rendered.
In the fall as has already been said here, we want to have NE winds to cool and clear the water. A steady wind that last for a good while will also switch the current to a southerly direction, keeping the water clear, generally free of grass and cause the water temps to drop. This will eventually kick off the bait run and bring in the big fish.
Now you know why our answer to whether or not the fish will be biting when you are here is “it depends”.It depends on which direction the wind is blowing and it depends on the water temperature.We can tell you based on history which fishing are biting at a certain time of the year but it is hard to say what they will be doing a few weeks or a month away because, “it depends”.The best advice that we can give is that the best time to fish is when you have time to fish!Stop in and see us when you arrive and we can tell you what is currently biting.My favorite teacher once told me, “you cannot steal second base with your foot on first”.The same theory applies here, you cannot catch fish if you are lounging around by the pool rather than sitting on the beach so get out there and give it a shot!
TACKLE TUESDAY - COBIA SEASON - MAY 1, 2018
Today is the day many have waited all winter for, the first day of cobia season. Unfortunately, no one told mother nature that the air and water temperatures should be warmer but warmer weather will be here soon and so will the cobia. I personally can't wait for a chance to catch the "man in the brown suit".
Cobia can put up a great fight as they can grow to be over 100 pounds and they make a great dinner. It is possible to catch them from the beach, pier or even nearshore from your kayak.Cobia are a migratory fish and they migrate south for the winter and return to our coast in the spring as water temperature begins to reach 70 degrees.
So, what do you need for gear?We recommend a 10’ – 12’ rod and a spinning reel (or conventional if you prefer) with a large capacity spool. Cobia tend to take a long run and are very strong so it is recommended to have a fluorocarbon shock leader on your line to help prevent the cobia from breaking it off. Cobia are not picky eaters and artificial lures work well. Bucktail jigs are popular for cobia fishing and can be paired with soft plastics.Here are some recommended items:
Where can you find cobia? Based on previous year fishing reports, cobias have been caught from the beach at the Point, ramp 49 and ramp 55. If you are lucky enough to have your own boat, sight fishing from a boat is popular for cobia and the items above are great for sight fishing as well. If the water is calm and clear, a great way to target cobia is from a kayak.You can head to the “hook” in Frisco and try your luck at targeting cobia from a kayak.Imagine the thrill of hooking up with one of these big guys from your kayak! We can help you with that too as we are a Vibe Kayak dealer or you can rent one of our kayaks.
Always be sure you know the limits before heading out fishing.The recreational limit for cobia is one cobia per person per day and the minimum size is 36 inches (fork length).If fishing on a private boat (including kayak) one cobia per person with a max of two cobia per boat for the month of May and after June 1st changes to one cobia per boat regardless of the number of people on the boat.
Now get out there and catch a big one and send us pictures of your catch to share.
Wind, wind and more wind, that is what we have had here lately. We did get a couple of nice days to get out there and enjoy the beach. This week we are going to talk about blowtoads as there have been a few being caught. I know, you are sitting there thinking they are annoying and you don't want to catch them. They can be a lot of fun for kids and they are great eating.
Blowtoads are pretty simple to gear up for and it is a blast to reel in a bunch of them. They are usually around one pound or less so you just need a lightweight rod and reel, a simple two drop high low monofilament rig with two to four ounces of weight depending on the water conditions. For bait, you can go with fresh shrimp or if you want to go with artificial bait, Fishbite Bloodworms work great. Blowtoads have small soft mouths but they use their teeth to crush crustaceans so a long shank hook works well with a small piece of bait on each hook. Using long shank hooks, increases your chance of reeling in the fish without it cutting your line.
If you can catch a cooler full, you will have a tasty dinner on your hands. Speaking of hands, their skin is rough so you should consider wearing gloves when cleaning them. To clean blowtoads, you cut a vertical line right behind the head, break the fish in half and then pull the skin off to reveal two pieces of yummy goodness. There are other ways to clean them so find a couple of videos on YouTube and choose your favorite method.
To cook them, we like to dip the meat in egg, then flour, then in the egg again and finally, roll it around in a mixture of panko breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Then pan fry the fish in a frying pan with 1/8” of vegetable oil, flipping once and removing when it is a nice golden brown on each side.
Here is a picture of our Frank and Fran’s team member Emily Ryals with her blowtoad catch as well as some ideas of products to use when targeting blowtoads.
We have finally had a couple of nice days here on the island and we have been able to get out to the Point for some fishing. I decided to talk about tackle bag tools this week because I saw several folks who could have used some of these tools. If you are new to fishing, these are things you need to keep in mind when outfitting your tackle bag. If you have been fishing for a while you probably have some other suggestions to add to the list so feel free to share them in the comments. Click here for tackle box necessities:
- Needle Nose Pliers - these are great to help you remove hooks from your catch's mouth. These are also helpful when handling skates. I saw several people using their fishing rod, bare feet, buckets and sand spikes to try and push skates back into the ocean this week. If you catch a skate, flip it over on it's back using the fishing line, then use the pliers to remove the hook from its mouth. To return the skate to the water safely, you can grab its by its nose with your hand or use the pliers to grab it by the tail and carry it back to the water.
- Fingernail Clippers - these are great for clipping your line. You can go with standard nail clippers or upgrade to a Boomerang Snip. The retractable Snip from Boomerang offers anglers an alternative to awkward, easily misplaced cutting tools like scissors and nail clippers. It is compact, lightweight and durable, it features precise, corrosion-resistant 420-grade stainless steel blades that slice through monofilament, fluorocarbon and even braid (50-lb. test) like butter. The Boomerang Snip comes on a 36" retractable leash making it convenient to use.
- Bait knife - a good bait knife is very important when using cut bait. To keep in good shape, use the full knife and run it back and forth gently to keep from squishing the bait. You can also use the back side of the bait knife to scrape the scales off the bait prior to cutting it in chunks to make it easier to run the hook through. I tend to prefer bait knives that come in a sheath to protect the blade.
- Cutting board - it is great to have a small cutting board so that you don't scratch your cooler lid when trying to cut your bait
- Tape Measure - it is important to know the fishing regulations for the area you are fishing and to have a tape measure on hand to check and see if you just reeled in a keeper. Trust me, it is much less expensive to buy a tape measure than to get caught with a fish that is too small.
Below are some ideas to help outfit your tackle box.
TACKLE TUESDAY - TAKING CARE OF YOUR GEAR - MARCH 20, 2018
Do you know what the most important rule is of fishing? TAKE CARE OF YOUR GEAR SO YOU CAN FISH MORE! Nothing stinks worse than finally getting a chance to go fishing and then having a problem with your gear. Therefore, today we are going to talk about some common sense items when it comes to taking care of your gear.
- Be aware of your surroundings - I cannot tell you how often people come into the shop holding two rods which are broken in the exact same spot. They try to convince us that they both broke in the exact same spot which casting. Hmmm, are you sure you didn't shut them in a car door, hit a tree branch or try to drive under your cottage with the rods still in your rod rack? I know I am guilty of forgetting that the rod rack is on the truck, so I need to remember to be aware of my surroundings.
- Don't lay your reel in the sand - grab a sand spike and keep your gear out of the sand! Did you forget your good sand spike at home? Well grab an inexpensive PVC one as it is less expensive than replacing a reel.
- Rinse your gear - when you get done fishing, be sure to rinse your rod (guides and reel seat), reel and rigs with fresh water. You just need a light rinse, do not aim the hose nozzle directly at the reel as it can force salt and sand into the reel. It is also a good idea after rinsing and drying a reel to apply a light lubricant like Real Magic. Don’t spray the lubricant into the reel’s gear mechanisms as these areas require grease for lubrication.
- Replace your line - It is important to keep your line in good shape. It is a good rule of thumb to replace your line each year. However, if you were you lucky enough to catch a big drum that took you a while to fight, well then you may need to replace your line so you don't lose the next big one!
- Secure your lure - don't let your lure bang against your rod during travel. You can either remove your lure or use a lure wrap to keep your lure secure and protected.
- Break down your rod - if you have a two piece rod, be sure to break it down for travel. You can utilize Fishing Butler rod bungees to safely and securely transport your rods.
So get out there, have fun, catch the big one but be sure and TAKE CARE OF YOUR GEAR!
TACKLE TUESDAY - SELECTING A REEL - MARCH 13, 2018
Last week we talked about how to select the right rod so it only makes sense to tackle how to select the right reel this week. Like I mentioned last week, there is no right answer and a lot of times, gear selection is up to your personal preference. Spinning reels are typically the choice for many surf anglers. Conventional reels are also popular but are typically used by those with a good deal of experience as they are more difficult for those who are new to the surf fishing.
Reel bodies can be made of graphite or aluminum, or sometimes a combination of both. Aluminum housing is stronger than graphite however, graphite is lighter. Deciding whether strength or weight is more important is ultimately a personal choice but keep in mind that graphite is much more corrosion-resistant. Corrision-resistant does not mean you can dunk it in the salt water or lay it down in the sand, you still need to buy a sand spike and rinse the reel! Take care of your gear!
- Reel Size - 2000, 3000, 20, 25, 30 etc. - Many people are confused by this, but don't be. Each manufacturer rates their reels differently so there is no standard naming convention in the industry. The smaller the model number the smaller the reel. For example, if a manufacturer numbers their reels 2000, 3000, 4000 the 2000 is the smallest. If a manufacturer numbers their reels 20, 30, 40, the 20 is the smallest. You want to select a reel that is appropriate for your rod size, typical rule of thumb is that you should use a 30 or 3000 series on a 6-7' rod, 40 or 4000 series on a 8-9' rod, 50 or 5000 on a 10-11' rod and a 60 or 6000 on a 12' rod.
- Line Capacity - this is the amount of monofilament or braid the reel spool can hold. The size line you should use depends on the type of fish you are targeting and what your rod can handle. If you are targeting larger fish, you will want to use heavier line and need a reel with a larger capacity so that when the big one hits, he can take out plenty of line without spooling your reel!
- Gear Ratio - The gear ratio of a reel will determine how fast you will be able to retrieve line, and how much cranking power you have. The numbers are simple to understand. The first number indicates how many times the spool will turn for every crank of the reel's handle. Therefore, the spool of a reel with a 6.3:1 ratio will turn around 6.3 times for every turn of the reel's handle. Reels with a ratio of 5.5:1 to 6.3:1 are considered fast retrieve reels and work great for casting and retrieving metal lures such as stingsilvers when the spanish mackeral and blue fish are running. If you need more cranking power, to help you reel in a big drum, choose a reel with a lower ratio, like 4.1:1.
- Ball Bearings - Spinning reels feature ball bearings within the body for smoothness, support and stability. Generally speaking, the greater number of bearings a reel contains, the smoother the reel will perform.
At the end of the day, one of the biggest deciding factors is comfort, you want to select a reel that work best for your rod and the fish you are trying to target but comfort is very important. After all, you don't want a sore hand after a day of fishing because you will hopefully have some fish to clean when you get home!
We have a wide variety of reels to choose from, a couple of our favorites are the Penn Battle for drum fishing, Okuma Trio for spanish mackeral and if you are ready for a conventional reel, the Akios 656 or 666.
TACKLE TUESDAY - HOW TO SELECT THE RIGHT ROD - MARCH 6, 2018
Spring is in the air, or at least it was until the nor'easter named Winter Storm Riley came roaring through this past weekend. Hopefully, Highway 12 will re-open today and we can continue preparing the shop for the season. Prior to the nor'easter, the big drum were being caught at the Point. This time of year is exciting for us because the fish start returning which means all of you reading this will be ready to come back and visit. This year, we are going to try and provide some informational posts every Tuesday to help educate those just getting started in surf fishing. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different methods for surf fishing and as you expand your knowledge, you will develop your own personal preferences, this information is just to help you get started. We will provide information around the species of fish we catch here, the gear we use and even some recipes to use to cook up your fresh catch.
One question we often get is, what is the best rod? The answer is, well that depends. It depends on what species you want to target, how much weight you want to be able to throw, whether you want to use a spinning or bait caster reel. Surf rods vary in length from 7 - 14 feet but most anglers are good with a rod in the 10 - 12 foot length. Ideally, you want to choose the longest rod that you are comfortable with as the length of the rod will help you achieve more casting distance if necessary. There are times when distance is not important as the fish are very close to the beach but with a versatile rod, you will be prepared for when you need to cast out further. When targeting red drum, you will need to use 17lb. test monofilament line or heavier. Therefore, you will need a rod that is medium - heavy in power. You will also want to look at the amount of weight the rod is able to handle, which can typically be found on the shaft. The amount of weight you want to use depends on the condition as you want enough weight to hold bottom so that your bait is not drifting. Typically, we recommend a rod that can hold 2 - 8 oz. so that you can fish on calm days and not so calm days.
One of our most popular surf fishing rods is the Tica TC2 10'6" because it is a great all around rod to start with since it will handle 2 - 8oz. This rod is a graphite rod which means it is light but very durable. We have many other rods to choose from so stop in and let our team help set you up with the right rod for your needs.