The Cape Fear area was hit hard by Hurricane Florence this fall, and then the remnants of Hurricane Michael added plenty of runoff a few weeks later. The full assessment of the damage and how these storms will affect fishing is ongoing, but one positive was that redfish and specks were feeding within weeks. Another is that no fish-consumption advisories have been issued.
The Northeast Cape Fear joins the Cape Fear River beside the Battleship North Carolina near downtown Wilmington, and the Black River flows into it about 10 miles upstream. The rivers combine to drain much of central North Carolina. There is also the Brunswick River, but it is basically a thoroughfare that branches off the Cape Fear just upriver from Wilmington and rejoins it across from the N.C. State Ports facility.
Fall is a special time for sportsmen in the Carolinas, and it has managed to shine through all the weather we’ve had this year, including two hurricanes. Fish are biting, and most hunting seasons are open. There were repairs this year that had to be placed in front of the honey-do list, but occasionally sportsmen need a break — even in the worst of times — and the fish and game cooperated.
As he pushed away from the boat ramp at the Dram Tree Park in Wilmington, N.C., Rennie Clark’s plan for a chilly, slightly cloudy fall day, was first to target stripers in the Northeast Cape Fear River, then head to the Cape Fear River for trout and red drum.
Dr. Michelle Duval of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, chair of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, anticipates a few changes to how the snapper/grouper fishery is managed after fishermen brought up some issues during the SAFMC’s Visioning Project last year.
The odd weather that has been prevalent in the Carolinas this year has continued into the fall. After rain and heat through the summer, Hurricane Florence backed into the east coast and wreaked havoc from Cedar Island, N.C. to Cape Romain, S.C.
John Mallette’s love affair with grouper began when he was a teen on Topsail Island, where his family once owned Ocean City Pier. He took a trip with Joe Hifko, a noted fisherman, and was hooked right away.