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cgg

My 3rd Annual Cape Lookout Adventure (long & pic heavy)

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For the third year in a row I have been lucky enough to go to Cape Lookout for four weeks and chase false albacore around. My wife and I rent a house in Emerald Isle and trailer the boat down from our home on Cape Cod. She enjoys her books and the beautiful, uncrowded, quiet beaches, and I get to put a lot of hours and miles on the boat fishing for 'core. We rented the same house we did last year and arrived in Emerald Isle on October 14th, but two things were very different this year.

 

First and sadly, our beloved Golden Retriever died last winter so this year our goofy new three-legged rescue mutt, Bingley, made the trip to NC for the first time. He proved to be a great little traveler, and loved the beach and making lots of new friends.

 

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The second big difference this year is that I had a new Parker 1801 CC along and it's everything I hoped it would be--just a great boat for the inshore fly fishing I do. 

 

the new boat in front of the rental house

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The first day of fishing was Sunday, Oct 15 and I did not launch until noon, and I stayed "way out west" and went out of Bogue Inlet. I really enjoy doing that when I can, and the fish are there, because it's a beautiful area and there are so few other boats and people out that way chasing albies. I almost always have the fish to myself. That proved to be true most of the first week and I had good fishing on some bay anchovy bait balls Sun, Tues, Wed and Thur. Wednesday was particularly good. A strong N wind made boat handling a little tough, but the albies were up and aggressive and driving baitfish into the wind towards the beach. When I found a school I'd get around 40 yds in front of them, shoot out a cast in front of them and get my line under control, and a few seconds later when I figured the leading edge of the school had reached my fly I'd strip once or twice and be on. It was great fun and I had it all to myself--didn't see another boat. I caught 15 before noon and then headed back in Bogue Inlet before the incoming tide started against the wind and made the inlet too rough and dangerous.

 

first fish of the trip

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the bait and the surf candy that worked well

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And the new Parker on the water

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Running in the sound towards Bogue Inlet at dawn--

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And coming out Bogue Inlet at sunrise--

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Another highlight of the first week was using a custom rod a friend made me--a special "Tutti-Frutti" albie rod. Sadly, it broke about the 6th day of the trip.... My NC Albie safaris are always hard on equipment

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The second week a friend came down from PA and fished with me for three days. We lucked out with good weather and had some decent fishing. The third day was particularly fun when we found a shrimp trawler way to the west that had albies stacked up on it, and very few sharks. We doubled up on many drifts and wound up with 17 or 18 fish before the action died out.

 

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Sometimes the sharks behind the trawlers could be just crazy, especially the first few days when water temps were in the mid-70's. Trawlers like this I don't fish--I'm not going to just feed albies to the sharks--it's a waste and cruel.

 

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I also did another one handed video with my phone of breaking fish while I was hooked up and the fish was running. I almost dropped the phone over board, so I quit screwing around after that :o

 

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The good fishing continued and I did start going east to Beaufort Inlet and launching at Morehead City. The Hook had some fish a few days and I caught a few there, but it also had a lot of boats, so I did not stay long. It is such a pretty spot though--

 

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The third week was semi-disappointing. Had a couple blow days, and a largely unsuccessful trip east of the shoals. Another afternoon I found acres of small 'core (4-5 lbs by the look of them) on tiny bait on an off shore mark about 4 mi south of Bogue Inlet. They wanted nothing I was throwing at them and after an hour I said the hell with it and left to look for more cooperative fish.

 

The fourth week was great and highlights included a great trawler bite off Shackleford for a couple days. Some big fish showed and, unlike the little sippers, they wanted to eat. Friends who were now down from Mass with their boats got fish to 22#'s! I got one that was 17# and found one boat that I had to myself with lots of fish that were particularly hyped up and aggressive. I started throwing a popper just for fun and on the first cast got broke off because the strike was so hard and fast I was not ready for it. I retied and got several on top after that, including a 16#'er on a crease fly--very fun.

 

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Other highlights of the last week were some good bait ball action down the western beaches and in Beaufort Inlet itself. One afternoon I was on a friend's boat and we found albies breaking at the Rt70 bridge right by the Radio Island ramp. That was cool

 

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My last day of fishing, Thursday, Nov 9 I was not even planning to fish because nasty wind and rain were predicted. But when I got up that morning, it was not the windy, and it was not raining that hard so I came out of Bogue Inlet about 9 am and headed east looking for fish. I did not find any until I got all the way to the Beaufort channel, but once I found them it was game on. A friend called and said they were going off in by Fort Macon and we had good action in there for a couple hours. At one point I had bait trying to hide under my boat and I could see albies zooming around underneath. Three times I just had to drop my fly in the water by the boat and watch it sink about 4 or 5' and an albie would zoom out and grab it. The bait ball then moved in behind the #20 Red buoy and I lost a line when a fish wrapped me around it. That pissed me off, so I tied on 25# tippet and set myself up to be "down tide" from the buoy. I'd make a short 30' cast to the buoy, hook up immediately, and then two-hand strip strike and horse the fish away from the buoy so I could land him and not lose another line. That was fun and I got five doing that before the tide slacked and the fish left the buoy. By then it was 2 or 3 in the afternoon and time to head all the way down Bogue Bank to Bogue Inlet and home, so I left. All the way down the island I did not see any fish until I was literally in front of the rental house in Emerald Isle, and there was a school of 'core on a bait ball just beyond the bar. I hooked up and called my wife to come out on the deck and see the action--she took this long distance pic of me hooked up, though you can't really see much. 

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Our last day, Friday, Nov 10, we packed and I cleaned up the boat and took it to Starling Marine for winter storage--we like it so much down there that we are going to go back in April so I can start the fishing season a little earlier down there. And btw, Starling Marine has been a great "find" for me--Scott and the service dept were very helpful and I got my new Parker's 100 hr service by appointment in one day, so I did not lose any fishing time. :th:

 

I'll finish up with just a few more notes and pics--

 

Most importantly, I want to say what a great area Cape Lookout is. Very "boat-friendly" and lots of super people. I'd like to especially thank Brian Horsely, Sarah Gardner and Joe Shute--three of the best local guides and always very helpful and positive. Having friends like them on the water really makes it fun. And this is the "off season" down there--house rentals etc., are very affordable. If you have never been to Harkers Island/Cape Lookout for albies, you should go.

 

Friends from Mass catching fish--all of us really enjoy gong to Cape Lookout in the fall--

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My friend Henry with a 22#er!

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Sometimes the bait got damn big and the fish got super aggressive on it--

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And I had an albie from a trawler bite puke up a squid--I did not know they had them off NC in the fall, but I had some squid flies with me and they hammered behind the trawlers that day.

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On blow days I would work on my gear--my wife thinks I have way too much stuff, but I don't see it....

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And when the fish were on those 'chovy bait balls, small brown or pink epoxy minnows or jiggies did not get refused. Pink seemed particularly effective imo.

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 All together it was an awesome trip. Fishing was solid, weather was good most of the time, and I am very grateful that I get to do this each fall. And the new Parker is super -- I put over 140 hrs and 1400 miles on it down there and between me and a couple friends who fished with me, we put over 180 albies in the boat. What a great way to break in a new boat! 

 

sunset at Emerald Isle on our last evening there--can't wait 'til we get to go back in April

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Great photos and a real fishing report of an adventure!  Thanks for putting it together and posting this. George

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great seeing you on the water as well and thanks for the help..   The sandpeople have had a great week this week 

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Following the weather pattern is the key when you have time & resources to travel   Thanks for sharing 

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Great photos and summary of the trip!  The photos bring back a lot of memories old and new....my parents have lived in Pine Knoll Shores for about 20 years - beautiful area.  I get down every year but not enough.  Thanks!

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Great report. I'm pretty sure I saw you around a few times. That is one special place. The fishing was kinda inconsistent the two weeks i was there. Lots of super days and lots of really poor days fishing wise.

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4 hours ago, bhorsley said:

great seeing you on the water as well and thanks for the help..   The sandpeople have had a great week this week 

Yes--I figured the cold and north wind would fire up the Hook and the point & beach facing north. I wish I could stay for 5 weeks! 

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57 mins ago, jabster said:

Great report. I'm pretty sure I saw you around a few times. That is one special place. The fishing was kinda inconsistent the two weeks i was there. Lots of super days and lots of really poor days fishing wise.

This year was definitely more fickle than last year, but overall it was very good for me. Taking away the two travel days, I was there for 26 days and got out to fish on 18 of them. I got skunked twice, and had one day where a friend and I only put three fish in the boat, but otherwise it was pretty solid. My third week--Oct 29th to Nov 4th--was my poorest week and I think that was your first week. But I also had several days of a dozen or more fish and got to see some really cool sh*t! 

 

That's the reason I try and go as long as I can--I figure the longer I'm there, the better my chances are that it will be good at some point. And, in the end it is not that expensive. The house rental and fuel for truck and boat come to less than I would pay for one week at some fancy bonefish or salmon lodge. I don't have tons of money, but I do have time, so I try to make the most of it--my wife and I really love it down there. You're right--it's a special place.

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Nice report and pics. With some family members moving to NC I should be able to take advantage of that fishery in the future.

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1 hour ago, cgg said:

 

This year was definitely more fickle than last year, but overall it was very good for me. Taking away the two travel days, I was there for 26 days and got out to fish on 18 of them. I got skunked twice, and had one day where a friend and I only put three fish in the boat, but otherwise it was pretty solid. My third week--Oct 29th to Nov 4th--was my poorest week and I think that was your first week. But I also had several days of a dozen or more fish and got to see some really cool sh*t! 

 

That's the reason I try and go as long as I can--I figure the longer I'm there, the better my chances are that it will be good at some point. And, in the end it is not that expensive. The house rental and fuel for truck and boat come to less than I would pay for one week at some fancy bonefish or salmon lodge. I don't have tons of money, but I do have time, so I try to make the most of it--my wife and I really love it down there. You're right--it's a special place.

I gotcha. We had one really bad day, four that it was only trawlers or sippers and the rest were really good with one Fepic day included. I guess it's silly to compare this year to last year, but i still did:)

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