"Fishing is really good right now, and it should still get a little better," said Tommy Thomes at Oak Island Pier. "Already this week we've had several citation flounder, a citation cobia and several king mackerel caught. The kings and the cobia create the excitement, but there are more fishermen after the flounder and other fish."
Thomes (910-278-6464) said pier-fishing has been good all season and he expected the fall to cap an exceptional year. He said the flounder-fishing regulars are catching nice flounder on a regular basis. Most range from 2 to about 4 pounds, but there are some occasional 5-pounders, and it's a combination of catching dinner – with the chance of catching a doormat – that keeps fishermen coming back.
"When the water started cooling in September and there were bait schools scattered up and down the beach, we felt like it was just a matter of time before the kings moved in," Thomes said. "It took a little longer than we expected, but the king bite began at the first of October. One day last week the fishermen landed five. There was a cobia early and then this latest one, too – and it's not over yet."
Thomes said there is lots of baits around and as long as there is food and the water is reasonably warm, the kings should stick around and feed. So far, they have been caught on bluefish, menhaden and mullet.
Thomes said it requires a combination of skill and luck to land a king or cobia from the pier. First, the fish has to come near the end of the pier to see the baits and then it has to be fought and brought back to the pier to be gaffed. Bringing a big fish back to the pier involves working it through the other lines without tangling – and once the word gets out the kings are biting, there are lots of other lines. The final test is if a fish comes back to the pier too green; it can have energy left to run around a piling and break off.
Spots are another favorite fish of pier fishermen and Thomes said they are beginning to show. The best action is at night, but it takes dedication to catch a lot as the bite turns on and off with schools passing through. He said the migration should soon be strong enough that they will be biting hot and heavy during the daytime, too.
"Spot fishing is simple," Thomes said. "A basic 2-drop bottom rig is all you need. Some fishermen prefer plain rigs and others like the ones with red beads. Bloodworms are the favorite bait for spots. Put little pieces on the hooks, and they will find them."