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Capt. Brant's Fishing Report


 

 

 

 
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START 1) 45.60 - Clearly Hooked     2) 44.00 - Team Grip Flip     3) 43.05 - Fish Hard Gear     4) 43.00 - Outta Line     5) 42.10 - Reel Methods     6) 41.05 - Open Wide     7) 39.45 - Shockwave     8) 39.35 - Beeracuda     9) 37.80 - Conference Call     10) 37.30 - Wilm Auto/King Hunter     11) 37.10 - Karma Bites     12) 36.85 - Four Sons     13) 36.20 - Lil John/Reel em up     14) 36.00 - Sea P.A.     15) 35.50 - OIFC     16) 35.15 - O D Bank     17) 34.80 - Max'd Out     18) 34.55 - On Point     19) 34.35 - King Carnivore     20) 34.35 - All In/AM    FINISH

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"Shallotte Inlet Crisis; UPDATE!" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/24/06
 

Not having buoys in our inlet this past year and currently is obviously a major crisis and is a catrosphy waiting to happen. In yesterdays post I stated we decided to go to work on this problem, and guess what...amazingly enough  there is a defined clear path to solve the problem, and all it took was a little time and effort to uncover. Here's the deal.

The US Coast Guard has a program called "Private Aids to Navigation". This is a program designed to allow for placement of buoys in navigable waters that are not being maintained by the Coast Guard. For example, around boat ramps, private channels, ect; this is where this program is used. In our case, the program can be applied to buoying our inlet since the Coast Guard is no longer willing to do so since their 65 foot boat can not navigate our 5 foot low tide water. It's as simple as filling out an application and according to the CG they can approve within a week! They have asked us to plot out a proposed course which we will do using the Corp of Engineers soundings chart they did this past year.

We have forwarded all this info on to the Town of Ocean Isle and hopefully they will pick up the ball and run with it as the request needs to come from the Town. Not to over simplify the deal, there has to be insurance put in place to cover liability and I don't have an answer back on that. I do know however, anything is insurable and whatever the premium cost is will be worth it to protect boaters using the inlet. Standby.


- Capt. Rube McMullan
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"Shallotte Inlet Crisis; UPDATE!" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/24/06
 

Not having buoys in our inlet this past year and currently is obviously a major crisis and is a catrosphy waiting to happen. In yesterdays post I stated we decided to go to work on this problem, and guess what...amazingly enough  there is a defined clear path to solve the problem, and all it took was a little time and effort to uncover. Here's the deal.

The US Coast Guard has a program called "Private Aids to Navigation". This is a program designed to allow for placement of buoys in navigable waters that are not being maintained by the Coast Guard. For example, around boat ramps, private channels, ect; this is where this program is used. In our case, the program can be applied to buoying our inlet since the Coast Guard is no longer willing to do so since their 65 foot boat can not navigate our 5 foot low tide water. It's as simple as filling out an application and according to the CG they can approve within a week! They have asked us to plot out a proposed course which we will do using the Corp of Engineers soundings chart they did this past year.

We have forwarded all this info on to the Town of Ocean Isle and hopefully they will pick up the ball and run with it as the request needs to come from the Town. Not to over simplify the deal, there has to be insurance put in place to cover liability and I don't have an answer back on that. I do know however, anything is insurable and whatever the premium cost is will be worth it to protect boaters using the inlet. Standby.


- Capt. Rube McMullan
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"Stream Report" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/24/06
 

Yesterday Ocean Isle fishermen Charlie Fasson, Woody Wooten and crew ran to the Same Ole' hole aboard their boat "Reel Pursuit".  They reported good sea conditions and water at 75 degrees.  They hooked up to several large fish there, and boated 1 Yellowfin and 1 Wahoo besides the many that got away.  They trolled toward the Steeples and 4 miles from the steeples in 200 feet of water found the Yellowfin breaking on top.  It was 3pm and Charlie knew it was time to go home-- 1 pass and 3 on and 3 Yellowfin in the 35 pound class boated before time to go home.  Charlie reported most of his bites came on "those darn cedar plugs".-- you just can't beat them.  Sounds like the action is heating up offshore- I can't wait to get out there.  For you prospective charter fishermen, we have lots of open dates in April, especially early on.  Call to and schedule your trip- (910) 575-FISH.  Looks like Saturday may be fishable, but Monday/Tuesday look very good.


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Shallotte Inlet Crisis" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/23/06
 

As you may be aware, the dredging of  the Shallotte Inlet as the sand source for the beach renourishment project is dead.... again. This continues the crisis we have as a result of the Coast Guard pulling our buoys last year based upon their position that since their 65 foot buoy tender could not safely navigate our 5 foot low tide waters, they considered our inlet not safe and thus pulled the buoys. No sense in going back to argue the logic of that one, the facts are we are buoyless and there is no doubt but that a catastrophy is imminent. Amazingly last year, nobody was killed in our buoyless inlet, but we are only weeks away from the deluge of tourist, and will be  lucky again this year?

The situtation we are in is: Do we sit back and wait for the dredging miracle the Town is working on to occur? Or do we as citizens step forward and say this is wrong; it will not stand; and we take the bull by the horns and attack. I'm sure everyone out there knows where we stand; it's ATTACK! And just as everyone's help was vital in the SAVE OUR POGIES  effort, your help will be needed again. We are researching and studying the problem and will be back to you with a plan asap. Please standby and once we come up with a plan, join with us in an effort to solve this crisis before the impending catastrophy occurs.  


- Capt. Rube McMullan
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"Thanks to all" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/20/06
 

A big thank you to all the fishermen who came to our seminar here at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center this past Saturday. It was a perfect day, clear, but windy enough nobody wanted to be fishing. We had a great turnout of 200+, and hopefully everyone who came learned something that will be of help in your fishing. As expensive as fuel is, whatever we can do to help you be more productive with your fishing hopefully helps better justify the cost side of the deal.

On the subject of cost, if you're not already, be sure to join our free Captain's Club. Lots of free benefits, but most importantly we can track on our computer system your fuel purchases and at the end of the year give you a computerized print out that you turn into the State of NC Revenue Dept[form #GAS-1201]. Since we are a marina and only sell fuel for boats, they have to give you back the road tax[approx 30cents/gallon{less sales tax if you're not commercial}]. The trick is you have to be able to prove it was purchased  for boating purposes, and you have to ask for it. In fact, by purchasing fuel from us, when you subtract the refund, we are much cheaper than any  road side gas station.

The weather will settle down soon and it will be time to get at em. This week doesn't look great but, just as I keep telling myself...patience. When ever the weather does break and the green flag is dropped, the fish better look out because there is definitely some "pent up demand" building up!


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Today's Report" | Show Time- 34' | 03/13/06
 

Yesterday I headed to the Stream on the ShowTime in hopes of cranking up our Gulf Stream season.  We ran to the Steeples and trolled 71-72.5 degree water but never found the hot bite we were looking for.  Other than a few small blackfin, the ocean was fairly quiet where we were.  Of course, they are always just out of reach- when we returned we learned that a good bite of Yellowfin took place from just north of the Steeples to above the Same Ole' hole-- Last year the same thing occured as the Yellowfin held north of the Steeples til early April when they filtered south the Steeples, BlackJack and 100/400 areas.  If you are King Mackerel fisherman, they are absolutely crushing the kings at the Frying Pan tower and surrounding areas.  Limits of 10-15 pound fish are no problem.  The Snapper and Grouper bite hasn't quite kicked off yet, but the Sea Bass are chewing at any piece of structure from 45 feet to 100 feet. 
REMINDER_
This weekend is our Spring Kickoff sale.  Included will be hourly seminars on various topics (see schedule below), free lunch, a used tackle trade/swap/sell forum (bring your own stuff) and a storewide sale at the OIFC (see details below).  Bring your family, fishing friends or whoever and come by to enjoy the atmosphere and get the season going.  Also, as an additional help, the GPS Store and Bluewater Marine Electronics will be on hand with a booth set up to help you learn more about maximizing your boat's electronics.  They will have electronics from Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno and Northstar on-hand to offer group or 1 on 1 help.
SEMINAR SCHEDULE:
10am- Capt. Brant McMullan- Grouper
11am- Forrest Taylor- live bait King Mackerel
12pm- free lunch
1pm- Capt. David Hooks- Wahoo
2pm- Capt. Barrett McMullan- Yellowfin tuna
3pm- Capt. Brant McMullan- Chumming uses and techniques
4pm- Keith Carter- Bluewater Marine Electronics- How to get the most out of your boat's electronics
OIFC SALE:
20% OFF- Capt. Brant 10' custom cast  net- was $250, now $200
20% OFF- OIFC custom rods
10% OFF- Baitmasters ballyhoo by the case
10% OFF everything else in the store- includes all tackle, marine supplies, clothing, gifts.........
PLUS- 50% OFF select clearance items and Berkley Big-Game $.01/yard fishing line spooled free- 12,20 and 50# available.


Come by and join with us as we kick-off the 2006 fishing season.


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Fishing Sunday" | Show Time- 34' | 03/11/06
 

Looks like we're locked and loaded to go to the Stream on the Show Time on Sunday AM.  We'll be leaving the dock at 5:30 am and leaving from Shallotte inlet if anyone needs to follow.  We plan on running toward the Steeples and hopefully find the wahoo and tuna.  Stand by for a report tomorrow-- don't forget next Sat is the Spring Sale-- everything in store is at least 10% off, with many more items at up to 50% off-- plus Berkley line for $.01/yard. 


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Key West Trip" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/08/06
 

Last week I had the distinct privilege to join the renouned past Top Angler of the Year Fishmeister team for prefishing and the first leg of the SKA pro division tournament held in Key West, FL.  On Sunday prior to the Fri/Sat tourney days I met up with team Captain Dean Spatholt and Dennis Watson for the truck ride down.  Arriving Monday morning we met up with the final piece of our crew David Haynes late that afternoon.  After a Fishmeister pre tournament ritual Monday evening we awoke early Tuesday morning ready to tackle the beast.  The beast being trying to figure our way around the surrounding shallow Key West waters and then learning where to find smoker kingfish.  We made the decision before leaving that we were going to fish an area about 80 miles to the west of Key West near the Dry Tortugas where numerous monster kingfish have been caught in the past few years.  Due to the long ride to the fishing grounds and the need for us to spend as much time as possible in that area we made the call that we would spend the following night on the boat in the protection of the Ft. Jefferson harbor.  Ft. Jefferson is a national park now and is about as big as a football field some 75 miles west of Key West.  We left out of Key West that first morning in the triple Yamaha powered 36' Yellowfin and ran 80 miles in a 4-6' sea.  The weatherman was calling for it to subside.  He was wrong.  We fished all day mainly for bait (bluerunners), and a little bottom fishing for dinner.  Just before sunset we traveled about 10 miles from the fishing hole to Ft. Jefferson and anchored up.  This is where the highlight of the trip begins.  A beautiful scene surrounded us being 80 miles out in the middle of the ocean yet protected from the seas by this historical landmark just as the sun was beginning to sink.  It was at this time I began cleaning some yellowtail snappers we had caught just hours before that we had captured for the purspose of throwing on the grill for dinner.  Dennis was standing next to me setting up the grill when I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  It appeared as if the bottom was moving underneath us as we were only in 8 feet of clear water.  Before I could say something about the anchor slipping my eyes refocused and an excited few words came flying out of my mouth as the other guys surrounded me to see what had generated my response.  Just inches from the hull of our boat lay 4 of the biggest fish I had ever seen.  These jew fish or goliath grouper were enormous.  We estimated these fish somewhere between 400 and 700lbs each.  They had come to the boat to investigate the fish cleaning.  It was then that things really turned interesting.  We began feeding the monsters scraps of fish and they would thankfully gulp down the easy meal.  Their mouths were so big they could of swallowed a five gallon bucket without it touching the sides of their mouths.  As we were feed the jewfish seveal pelicans came around to investigate the situation as they too were looking for an easy meal.  What happened next could only be described as National Geographic, "When Animals Attack".  A small piece of fish was thrown into the water and just as the pelican stuck his beak down to pick up the scrap the aggresive grouper gobbled him up.  Off swam this 700lb grouper with nothing but the wings and feet of a pelican sticking out of its mouth.  Fortunately I was armed with my camera at this point and captured an incredible moment.  With that being the highlight of the trip we all sat back and enjoyed fresh snapper on the boat grill that night and slept underneath a star lit sky.  We fished hard the next several days and caught a variety of species and kingfish up to 35lbs. Unforunately we were not tournament heros as a 28 and 32lb fish put us into 34th place for the event, which was not great but it keeps the team in position to make a run at the Angler of the Year title in the remaining events.  Despite our lackluster tournament performance each of us could honestly say we had experienced a truly amazing sequence of events of nature in its most raw form.  Another first for me was the monster black grouper we caught while slow trolling live baits.  The 50lb black grouper ate a 2 lb blue runner on the surface line in 110 feet of water.  The Tortuga area is an awesome and still somewhat untouched piece of the world that offers incredible and unique fishing. 

Though the Key West experience was awesome there's no place like home and I'm glad to be back and ready to kickoff the upcoming Gulf Stream season. 

Check out the pics. 


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Weekend Looks Great" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/08/06
 

Its supposed to be 80 degrees this weekend, sunny and YES, light winds.  If you've got cabin fever, this is your chance to dust off the cobwebs, break out the rod and reels and get on the water.  And what might you go searching for???  With the light winds forecast for Saturday, you should be able to go about anywhere.  I've been watching the surface water temperatures and there's a good eddy of 72-74 degree water pushing back down from the Same Ole' area towards the Steeples.  With any luck, if that finger makes it to the Steeples, it might make for awesome action.  The 68 degree water break looks to be about 10 miles offshore of the Horseshoe and this is where you will likely find the Kings and also have good bottom fishing for Snapper and Grouper.  If you can't make it out quite that far or don't have the time to dedicate an entire day, I've talked to a few guys who have been catching lots of Sea Bass in the vicinity of the 90/90.  As it warms up a bit, you will be able to catch limits of good size Sea Bass within 5 miles of the beach through the early Spring.  The OIFC is stocked and ready to provide anything you need for your offshore or inshore fishing adventure.  Stay tuned for reports.  I may try to slip out on Saturday myself.-- Capt. Brant


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Today's Report" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/06/06
 

A couple of boats headed out and fished the bluewater on Sunday, but unfotunately the weather and water conditions led to a tough day.  The supposed 5-10kt winds were a steady 15-20 from the North all day, making fishing the 3-5 foot seas pretty tough.  In addition, the water temperatures were in the 69-71 degree range with no breaks or apparent changes.  Early season like this, you never know exactly what you're going to get.  As it warms and we move later into March, the fishing will pick up and become more consistent.  Stand by for more info and fishing reports- I'm getting the itch.


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Another Beautiful Day in OIB" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 03/02/06
 

Well it's another beautiful day here in Ocean Isle Beach---77 degrees and bluebird sky.  The big downfall is that the wind is howling down here and unfortunately it looks as if it's going to continue to blow all weekend.  This gives us all an opportunity to go through all of our tackle and cull the old rusted hooks/lures and replace them with some new ones.  We are stocked up on all gulf stream supplies including hooks, swivels, fluorocarbon, ilanders, sea witches, cedar plugs, etc. and are ready to to set you up for the upcoming season.  Our phones have been ringing all morning with people booking charters so it's easy to see that we all have cabin fever---all we need is a break in the weather.  JUST IN!  There is a really good speckled trout bite in the canals of Ocean Isle on Berkley Gulp shrimp.  The fish have been coming from the mouths of each of the canals and in the main intersections of the canals and have been reported up to 5 lbs!
Don't forget about our Spring Kickoff Event coming up on Saturday, March 18.  We'll have seminars given by OIFC Charter Captains as well as a pig pickin'---all for FREE!  We'll also have our line winding machines running at full speed spooling reels for $.01/yard as well as tables set up for you to bring some of your old tackle to sell.  Along with all this, we've got a sale going on inside the store with loads of clothes, shoes, and gift items on sale for 50% off!  So mark Saturday, March 18 off on your calender and plan to be here in Ocean Isle----I promise that it will be a good time!  The Giggling Mackerel opened back up today after being closed for the winter so you can plan on eating supper there while you're down, if'd you'd like.
On a side note, Mr. Rickey Beck just dropped off a cd with a TON of aerial photos of Ocean Isle including Shallotte Inlet as well as Tubbs Inlet and I've attached a few here.  These were taken just a few days ago--take a look at how slick the ocean is!


- Capt. Bryan Williams
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"Stream Update" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/26/06
 

Yesterday the Ocean Isle based "Crews Missile" team headed out and fished the Black Jack and southern Steeples area.  They reported a warm water eddy of 73 degrees had pushed in over both these spots and from the time they set lines at daybreak until lines up at 2pm, they never went more than 15 minutes without a bite.  They caught alot of Skipjack, False Albacore and Blackfin Tuna on cedar plugs.  In addition they had several very strong wahoo bites of which they all ended in parted lines- the hot wahoo lure on this day was a white and silver drone spoon trolled off the downrigger.  They eventually trolled offshore to the 100 fathom edge where they got a double hookup on Yellowfin and landed one and lost the other.  The big surprise and heart ache of the day came from a 53 pound Amberjack which exploded on a top trolled daisy chain, smoked off line and proceeded to fight like a prize Yellowfin for the next hour and half before finally being identified- that's a rarity in the Stream.  Anyway, the guys were excited and encouraged by the action and so am I.  As I've said in the past, if you can get the right water over the break in the Winter, it can set up for great action.  Anyway, hopefully this report will serve as a catalyst to all of us to get out there and go fishing.  Thanks to the "Crews Missile" team for their pioneering effort.--- Capt. Brant --
Don't forget Spring Kickoff Extravaganza- March 18th- 10am-3pm- including free seminars all day, Free pig pickin', Trilene Big Game line spooled for $.01/yard and great store savings-  Saturday, March 18th-(10am-3pm) Cast net throwing- OIFC staff (10am)Capt. Brant- Grouper (11am) Forrest Taylor-King Mackerel (12pm) FREE Pig Pickin' (1pm) Capt. David Hooks- Wahoo (2pm) Capt. Barrett McMullan- Yellowfin (3pm) Capt. Brant McMullan- Chumming Techniques--- BAITMASTER BALLYHOO BY THE CASE-10% OFF-MARCH 18TH ONLY-- Standing by, Capt. Brant


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Shallotte inlet dredging deal" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/24/06
 

I've read alot about the beach renourishment deal and this and that, and lately I've gotten confused with new reference of "inlet crossing" dredging to get sand for the East end.  Inlcluded is the correspondence I recieved from the town of OIB-

Daisy.

>>I'm getting many calls/contacts from folks confused about what's

>>happening with the inlet re: dredging. Please give me the facts so I

>>can correctly pass the info on. I'm also unsure as to exactly what has

>>been agreed and what will occur for this year.

>>Thanks

Capt. Brant McMullan

>Brant,

>The Corps Beach renourishment project was not awarded during this cycle

>due to the dredge backing out of negotiations to take a larger job at

>Edisto Beach, SC. Therefore the Corps will begin new surveys

>immediately and hopes to have this project awarded in the next cycle

>(by August) with construction to begin on Nov 1 of this year. The Town

>is also working in conjunction with the State of NC and Corps on a

>inlet crossing project. If awarded this project would dredge the

>Shallotte Inlet crossing and material from this dredging project would

>be placed on the east end. It is expected that construction of this

>project would begin around Arpil 1. There is also an update on our

>website if you would like to refer to it. I have also been checking

>into the possibility of the Town contracting with the Corps for dredging of the inlet but at this time that does not appear possible.

>Daisy Ivey

>Town Administrator

>Town of Ocean Isle Beach

>For clarification- what is inlet "crossing" versus "inlet"- thanks

>Capt. Brant McMullan


The inlet crossing is where Shallotte Inlet crosses into the ICWW. This project will not go up into the inlet.

Daisy


So that's where things stand as of now.  The inlet mouth itself which is in dire need will not be dredged.

For those of you who haven't noticed, we've started a new "join our email list" deal where you can recieve special fishing reports, tournament reports, political updates and store specials direct via email.  Simply click on the link at the top of this page and insert your email.  Your email will be completely confidential and you can unsubscribe any time you choose. 
Tight Lines- Capt. Brant


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"The weather is here; wish you were beautiful" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/23/06
 

Weather looks perfect for Friday/Saturday.

LET'S GO FISHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Standby for play by play on what we find where.


- Capt. Rube McMullan
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"What's new" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/20/06
 

Not much, except the bottom paint on my boat and the line on my reels.  February is my main "land" month in which I spend time respooling, hauling boats.... rerigging lures...... That is not to say that you can't go out any day in February and catch fish.  Sea Bass near and Wahoo, Kings, Snapper and Grouper far, you can catch fish in February.  A few guys did head out last weekend to the bluewater and found cool waters over the Steeples and similar offshore hotspots- Steeples were 68 degrees and produced a couple of wahoo, but overall the trolling action was slow.  I just wanted to touch base to let you know we haven't quit, we're just getting ready to go.  March is coming soon.  --- Capt. Brant


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Quiet on the fishing scene" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/19/06
 

Hasn't been much to report lately. I've noticed over the years for some reason in mid February, the warm water that is normally present around the Frying Pan Tower area disapears. With it goes the dependable winter King Mackerel fishery that we have during the winter as well as other temperature sensitive fish. The last reading I saw around the Tower was in the upper 50's and even at the Black Jack the water was in the mid 60's.

I think this is mother natures way of giving the fishermen and the fish a break in order to get ready for March when the Yellowfin show up in mass in the stream as well as the biggest wahoo of the year. So, while we normally preach at you fishermen to get off the sofa and get fishing, the next couple weeks is the perfect time to take care of the honey do's; get cabin fever; and then get ready to get back to work come March 1. We'll keep you informed as soon as we get back at it. 


- Capt. Rube McMullan
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"Today's Report" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/12/06
 

On Friday a few fishermen got offshore to take advantage of the good weather.  None that I know of tried for the Bluefin, as most went on to the edge of the break looking for Wahoo and Yellowfin.  I haven't gotten any super hot reports, but both of the boats that I know of that went each had Wahoo up 65 pounds.  There were also reports of jumbo Seabass and a few Grouper biting in the 90-120 foot depth range.  Here at the OIFC we're continuing to work in preparation and hopes to make 06' our best year ever. 
We will be officially kicking off the new season on Saturday, March 18th as the OIFC will be hosting its annual "Spring Kickoff" in which we will host a used tackle swap/sell (you bring your own stuff), seminars from area pros, a FREE pig pickin' cookout and Berkley fishing line is sponsoring our annual reel spooling party by offering line in 12#, 20# and 50# Berkley Big-Game fishing line for $.01/yard spooled by the OIFC on-site.
The festival is still a few weeks off, and stay tuned for further info as I'll be setting our seminar schedule and getting more info. together.  Mark the date on your calendar and until then, stay tuned to fishing reports.
Capt. Brant


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"Today's Report" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/10/06
 

It's been cold and quiet here at the beach.  Today happens to be a beautiful day and I'm ashamed to say that I'm sitting in front of  my computer instead of out on the water.  I haven't heard anything from the Bluefin tuna fishing lately as noone that I know of has been out after them.  I hope to get a report today and I'll post my findings.  For now, we are prepping for the Spring season.  Stand by for more- Capt. Brant


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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"What's Next?" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 02/04/06
 

If the weather won't let us go fishing let's at least talk about fishing.  It's the beginning of February, a time when most fishermen take a rest to regroup from last season and get ready for this season.  These same thoughts also included December and January up until this year's discovery of the giant bluefin tuna right outside our backdoor.  With the bluefin tuna bite beginning to slow what else can we go after if we aren't ready to go into winter hibernation?
Believe it or not February can have some of the best wahoo action in the Gulf Stream that we see all year.  With generally colder surrounding waters, a small pocket of warmer water located over structure in 150 to 300 feet of water can creat a dynamic fishing situation.  This time of year we keep our eyes peeled to the weather forecast and the sea surface temperature analysis.  If a good weather day crosses with an eddy of warm water spun off from the Gulf Stream then you know it is time to head offshore.  You are likely to encounter a strong wahoo bite in this warm water, but don't be surprised to run into some early season yellowfin tuna.  In addition to the yellowfin and wahoo don't be shocked if your Shimano TLD 25 gets turned inside out by a freight train bluefin.  Often in February and March while fishing for wahoo and yellowfin we will encounter the tail end of the giant bluefin tuna migration when they are headed across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.  If you haven't heard by now these fish are enormous, fast, strong eating machines that will put your body and tackle to the limit.  Mainly though in February wahoo are the target species when fishing the offshore waters.  A new twist to the offshore or Gulf Stream fishing out of Ocean Isle that we hope to uncover this year is what to do when they just aren't biting.  Most times when the long 55+ mile trek is made to the break we are rewarded with yellowfin, wahoo and mahi topwater action.  However there are those days when you get out there and the ocean is dead.  No temperature changes, no bait fish, no birds, no gamefish- that are visible.  This brings us to the next relatively undiscovered fishery off our coast.  Deep dropping for grouper of various species, snapper, and tilefish is an option for deep water fishermen when the topwater action is dead.  Fishing structure anywhere from 150 to 600 feet should yield impressive catches.  Again, because this fishery has been for the most part ignored there will be a lot to learn but the it also is likely to be very productive as we will be fishing virgin grounds.  Right now I'm thinking the ideal setup will be an electric reel spooled with 130lb braided line on a stout 100lb class rod.  The braided line has no stretch and thus will allow you to feel a bite that may occur 600 feet below.  For the hardcore hand cranker a Penn Senator or equivalent reel with a heavy drag system will be the way to go.  Just remember to get a bait down to the bottom in the heavy Gulf Stream current we are likely going to need to use a couple pounds of weight.  So if you're hand cranking get ready for a workout.  The grouper you are likely to encounter will most likely vary a little more in size and species in the deep water than what we typically see in the late spring and fall in the inshore waters.  In the inshore waters, 65 to 90 feet we mostly catch black or grey grouper from 8 to 15 lbs.  In the deep water 150 to 600 feet we could see blacks, gags, scamps, reds, warsaw and snowy grouper ranging from 10 to 50+lbs.  Like I said it is an untouched fishery out of Ocean Isle that needs some investigating.  It sure would be nice to add a few 30 lb groupers on top of a box full of wahoo, dolphin and yellowfin tuna.  Or, a box full of big grouper and snapper would certainly salvage a 120+ mile roundtrip to the Gulf Stream where the topwater fish just weren't feeding.  Keep this fishery in mind this upcoming season as we start making our trips to the stream, and if you'd like us to help you get set up on tackle with rods, reels, terminal tackle and locations stop by the Fishing Center or give us a call and we'll do everything we can to help get you going in the right direction.  Keep on eye on the weather and water temps in the coming month and when the right conditions are in alignment, let's go fishing!
Here a few pics to remind you of what's out there waiting on us.


- Capt. Barrett McMullan
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"Today's Report" | Carolina Contender- 36' | 01/30/06
 

What a day Saturday was-- one of the prettiest days I can ever remember on the ocean.  I headed due south of Ocean Isle and fished the BP25 and Twin City wreck areas in hopes of finding a hidden stock of Bluefin.  And although the water temps were good, the bait just wasn't there.  I run to the southeast some 20 miles and ended up on the bottom southwest of Frying Pan tower in some 66 degree water where a hot king mackerel bite was underway.  The fish were schooled in 110 feet of water and dead Cigar Minnows were a guarantee.  Surprisingly, many of the fish were good size, with several caught into the 20 pound range.  At 4pm I headed in and stopped by the Horseshoe are and set lines to fish til dark for Bluefin.  The area was absolutely alive with topwater bait and the water temps were perfect at 58-61 degrees, and lots of porpoise- it looked fishy.  I had just trolled across the offshore Horseshoe bottom some 10 minutes earlier when a boat pulled through the same area and had a double hookup, landing one at 84 inches.  Needless, to say, our number did not get called, but the fact remains that they are still out there-- right place, right time.  The best news is that if you get tired of Bluefinning, you can slip offshore a few miles and get into the kings- OR- we also got good reports of wahoo with some yellowfin tuna action from the 100/400, Black Jack and Steeples areas. 
The weather this weekend looks like it may again be good, and I'm planning to be prepared for a little bit of everything.  The good news is that there are fish out there to catch and you still have an opportunity to get hold of a giant bluefin-
Nearshore, the sea bass and dog sharks are bitting strong, and don't be surprised to pull a nice door mat flounder out of the mix as well.


- Capt. Brant McMullan
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