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  • Fishing the SE Coast

    Fishing along the SE Coast is clicking along pretty well. There hasn't been a big run of kings at one of the piers for a week or so, but pier fishermen are still landing them occasionally. The good news is the kings have really spread out and might be caught about anywhere.

    Water temperatures have leveled out in the high 70s and will probably reach 80 in a couple of weeks. This has brought dolphin inshore and amberjacks, locally called reef donkeys because they are found in numbers around artificial reefs and shipwrecks and put up a long stubborn fight, have moved to many of the wrecks and reefs, especially around Frying Pan Tower.

    Dolphin are fun to catch and even better to eat, but the smaller ones typically found inshore are not too much challenge to wear out. Kings make a hot first run, but the average 10 to 15 pounder wears down in a matter of minutes, so the challenge is amberjack.

    Hooking into a reef donkey of much size dictates what an angler will be doing for the next 15 to 30 minutes. Occasionally one gives up after a shorter fight, but most dig hard and stubbornly for the bottom and the structure and protection it offers. The fight becomes a game of inches that brings sweat to the angler by the bucket and puts a burn in muscles that don't get used very often.

    Most reef donkeys are released and it is usually a toss-up to tell whether angler or quarry is more worn out by the battle. However, there are areas, like the Gulf Coast of Florida, where amberjack are held in high esteem for the dinner table. I know it is difficult to believe, but I've visited restaurants in that area where amberjack was considered the delicacy and was more expensive than grouper or dolphin.

    They are actually pretty tasty, but many have a tapeworm-looking parasite that runs through much of their body. Simply seeing this tapeworm while cleaning them turns many folks off to eating them, but the folks at UNC Sea Grant say even the tapeworm is edible.

    My suggestion is to cook only the meat not affected by the tapeworm and you might be surprised. It can be fried, baked, broiled, grilled or blackened.

    Good fishing,
    Capt. Jerry Dilsaver