Capt. Noah Lynk of Harkers Island expects to catch Spanish mackerel, bluefish and a few red drum on Cape Lookout shoals, and he has been, but lately, he’s had a few surprises in his catches: dolphin.
Lynk said a few dolphin are caught at AR 315, the Rock Barge and other spots close to the beach, but he never expected to catch any around the shoals.
"This is the first time I've ever caught dolphin this close in," said Lynk, who runs Noah’s Ark charters. "The water around the shoals is a pretty offshore blue, and it seems the dolphin have come inshore with it. This water has also brought a lot of bait in, and that bait has been chased up into the shallow water on the shoals. It's a nice surprise when a dolphin hits your Clark Spoon, even if it is just a slinger. Dolphin have been mixed with the Spanish and bluefish for about a week, and it has changed the game for catching them, too.
“There haven't been a bunch of them, but we're catching enough it got our attention. They're in close, too. My neighbor caught two slingers between the cape and Shark Island. There have even been a few gaffers caught in the deeper water just off the shoals."
Lynk has been using a Mackerel Master rig, which he makes himself using a monofilament leader tied to a Clark Spoon, with a Duster with a hook about 18 inches in front of it. Spanish and blues either hit the duster or the spoon and sometimes both. He said he never envisioned it as a dolphin lure, but a few have bitten both the Duster and the spoon.
Lynk (252-342-6911) said Mackerel Masters are trolling rigs that generally work best at about 5 to 6 knots, trolled at or just below the surface without a planer or sinker. Strikes generally come about evenly on the duster and spoon.
"Another lure we have been having real good luck with is the MirrOlips L29MR," Lynk said. "This lure floats, but has a lip that will make it dive up to about 5 feet, depending on speed. The larger Spanish really like this lure. The trick is to cast right up into the rough water or breakers on the shoals and retrieve it quickly. The larger Spanish are holding in the deeper water on the break where the bottom drops a few feet and if you have it diving when it comes across that, they'll nail it."
Lynk also trolls the MirrOlips at around 5 knots. Paired with a Mackerel Master, it gives him lures trolled at and below the surface.
The windy weather had stirred up the shallow water on the shoals, but the blue water has been just off the edge on the west side and a little farther off on the east side.