Fishing News/Local Celebrities

by Dr. Ken Neill, III

We have a couple of celebrities in the club. Charles Southall and Jorj Head made it into the March issue of Salt Water Sportsman Magazine. They are pictured on pages 90 and 91 holding a double hitter of drum that we caught on 9-Foot Shoal last May. Charles actually cranked in both fish. Jorj and I had both released red drum for citations earlier in the evening. All three of us already had multiple black drum citations. We were just trying to get Charles his red. Charles fought one while the other just sat in the rod holder. The first fish turned out to be a 44-inch black drum. The second was a 43-inch red drum. Charles cranked in several more red drum but never did get one over the 44-inch citation minimum. This year he will have to break the 46-inch barrier for a citation. Well, that is what we have to look forward to in May.

What is going on now? Striped bass fishing has been nothing short of fantastic. You have had to run south a bit to get them. The best action has been between Duck and Jockey’s Ridge. Big seabass can be found on the deepwater ocean wrecks. Tautog are biting closer to shore at places like the Triangle Wrecks, Tower Reef, Tiger Wreck, and the Santore. Some nice speckled trout are being caught at the Hot Ditch. When the weather cooperates, the yellowfin bite has been great out of Oregon and Hatteras Inlets.

Feb. 22, I ran south out of Rudee looking for striped bass. We hit them 48 miles down the line or maybe they hit us. It looked like every gannet on the east coast was there and we had them all to ourselves. The Oregon Inlet Fleet was fishing to the south. The fish were right on the beach on out as far as the eye could see. We fished in as shallow as 15 feet of water. Fish were all over the surface and if you had a bait hanging right beside the boat, you had better be holding onto the rod. The feeding frenzy never stopped. We caught well over a 100 fish before we finally cried uncle. On board, I had Charles Southall, Stevie Powell, and Jeff Dail. Jeff and I have already registered striper citations this year so Charles and Stevie were our crankers. I haven’t heard such wining since we had the boat at Morehead fighting giant bluefin on standup. They had fighting belts on by 8 a.m. They were sitting on the cooler by lunchtime. Most of the fish were in the 36 to 40-inch range. We caught a good number of 40 to 43-inch fish. We never caught any long enough for a release citation. When we got back to Rudee, we weighed our heaviest fish, a very fat, 42.5-inch fish that Charles had caught. To our surprise, it weighed 40 pounds 2 ounces. Charles got his citation. Stevie complained that he would have had his several times over if the Saltwater Tournament Committee hadn’t raised the release citation from 42 to 44 inches. I explained that was why we did it. You are going to have to work a bit harder for citations this year. Besides, it was fun watching Charles and Stevie struggle with all those fish. I guess next trip it will be Stevie and Jorj doing all of the cranking. You guys need to exercise or something.

Feb. 21, I ran south with Jeff Dail, Bob Manus, and Jorj Head after striped bass. We had to run 60 miles before we found them but, boy, did we find them. Jeff had registered a striped bass citation on the last trip so he let the rest of us crank in all of the fish today. Early on, as part of a multiple hook up, Bob and I each caught a big fish. Bob’s was 45-inches and he released it for a citation. Mine was a bit over 48-inches and later weighed in at 41 pounds 4 ounces. That left Jorj to crank in the rest and crank he did. We stayed until he could not crank any longer. He caught a lot of nice fish but none met the 44-inch mark. Poor Jorj could hardly move when we got back to the dock. Maybe next time. You had better eat your Wheaties.

Dr. Neill writes a weekly column for the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fisherman’s Association (