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Cool Fall Provides Hot Times For Local Fishermen
BY DOUG RIJTTER
At some point in September
or October, an avid saltwa
ter sportfisherman from the
North Carolina sandhills will hop in
his pickup truck and drive 156
miles to the Brunswick County
He'll arrive around 9 o'clock on
a Friday night. And when he does,
there's liable to be dozens of fellow
anglers jockeying for position at his
favorite ocean fishing pier.
It won't bother him a bit. He'll
turn a tiny crack in the crowd into a
in the waterway, rivers and surf and
large king mackerel offshore.
"What it comes down to is you
have your hot weather fish and cold
weather fish at the same time," said
Joyce Land, who works at Tripp's
Fishing Center at Shallotte Point.
But the fall belongs to the spot
(leiostomus xanthurus), a tasty fish
sized perfectly for the frying pan
and named for the black dot found
next to each of its gills.
"People love them little suckers,"
said Jesse Hayes of Captain Pete's
Seafood at Holden Beach. He
slide a bloodworm
on a hook and drop
his weighted line
into the ocean be
It won't be long
before he reels in
his first large spot.
"The biggest thing
they catch in the fall
is the spots. That's
really what makes
our second season. "
? Jesse Hayes
points out that
last fall's spot
fishing was the
best in four years.
Spots are a
from Virginia to
Florida each fall
when thev mi
him before his trip will seem thou
sands of miles away when he lays
eyes on that plump, yellow-bellied
The scenario is fictitious in this
case, but stories just like it are
played out year after year in the
South Brunswick Islands as Labor
Day passes and the summer tourists
leave us behind.
Fall is a special time of year for
anglers. The crispcr weather never
goes unappreciated after three
months of hot, sticky days, and
fishing conditions are usually at
Anglers typically catch a variety
of fish in the fall, including blues,
spottailed drum and speckled trout
grate south along the East Coast.
They seek out ocean water temper
atures between 65 and 75 degrees.
"The biggest thing ihey catch in
the fall is the spots. That's really
what makes our second season,"
Hayes said. "The just hit the big
schools of them as they run along
When the fish are feeding on the
ocean bottom, they are easy targets
for pier fishermen. When spots
aren't feeding and are swimming in
schools near the water surface, they
often end up in gill nets.
Curtis Williamson, manager of
Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier, re
lies on good spot fishing in the fall
to generate business after the sum
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mer tourists are gone.
"Cooler weather makes the fall
fishing better," he said. "I think you
got cooler weather and the tempera
ture of the water's down. I would
think that has a whole lot to do with
"You have pretty good fishing in
September and October. That's usu
ally when you get all the people,"
Williamson added. "When the spots
really bite the pier is pretty full."
When the spots are abundant,
Hayes said they often lure non-resi
dent homeowners to the coast and
other fishermen within a 200-mile
radius. "Everybody in the world
loves the spots."
Even people who don't like to
fish like spots. "They'll come down
here and buy 300 pounds to last
through the winter," Hayes said.
Williamson said most people like
the taste of spots, although he
prefers flounder. "That spot is a
good fish," he said. "It's about the
most popular fish there is."
Hayes said fall isn't just special
because the fishing is good.
"Everybody's in a good frame of
mind too. They've made it through
the hot summer and know winter's
on the way."
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