Capt. Noah Lynk of Harkers Island said schools of hungry 3- to 5-pound bluefish and 2- to 4-pound Spanish mackerel are all over the Cape Lookout shoals, ready to pounce on any lure that swims past.
Lynk, who runs Noah’s Ark Charters, said the water temperature is in the mid-80s, but blues and Spanish are feeding ravenously, like it's in the 60s and falling. Once a school is located, the action is non-stop, with hookups on successive casts being the norm.
"I don't know why, but these fish have moved onto some of the shallowest parts of the shoals," Lynk said. "Several days recently, we have caught them in less than a foot of water. Sometimes it was so shallow I couldn't even run my motor. I was positioning the boat at the upwind side of the school, then shutting off the motor and tilting it up so we could drift by them and cast."
Lynk said the fish look like torpedoes rushing the lures; it will raise the hair on your neck.
"We're fishing with my trout, flounder and drum rods, so it's light-tackle fun to begin with," Lynk said. "The Spanish have a lot of speed, and the bluefish aren't slack. The bluefish have a lot of power too.
"I don't know if being in the shallow water excites or spooks them, but they hit with a vengeance and take off," Lynk said. "They both run hard and fast, then the bluefish fight like bulldogs for every inch as you work them back in. The Spanish pretty much burn themselves up with longer runs, and once you turn them, only a few of the larger ones make another big run.”
Lynk (252-342-6911) said the schools aren't hard to find. He looks for them cutting the water close by and uses binoculars to find flocks of gulls hanging over them when they aren't close. Both Spanish and blues buzz through a school of bait, chopping a bunch up as they gorge themselves. The fracas and injured baits in the water attracts gulls, lots of gulls.
A mixture of topwater and subsurface lures have been Lynk’s favorite, at the top of the list being Sea Striker Surf Spoons and Clark Casters. Both are heavy enough to be cast long distances and retrieved quickly, and they put off plenty of flash.
"The most fun is catching these larger blues and Spanish on topwaters," Lynk said. "They blow water everywhere on the strike and occasionally two will fight over the lure. I've been using Top Dogs, and the color doesn't seem to be important. You just walk it across the water, and they whack it."