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Just got back from Harkers

Fished for 4 days. Most of the fish are being caught from Beaufort Inlet to the "western beaches" as far as the Sheraton Hotel. You'll see it - turn right (west) when you leave the inlet, and run slowly down the beach 200-300 yards offshore. I did visit the Cape Lookout Bight several times, but saw very, very few fish in that direction. If you had a boat, you were better off launching from Beaufort than from Harkers last week.

When I did see fish, pods were popping up and moving very, very quickly. It wasn't blitzes or bait balls hanging out under the boat - it was racing upwind of 4-5 fluttering gulls, bumping the boat into neutral, and firing 1 very quick cast that did the trick. (Incidentally, I saw Sarah Gardner (Fly Girl) and Brian Horsley fairly often along the western beaches. One of the best things about going with a guide is that they have a Plan B -- as the pictures of Kings can attest.) Fish were most active when the tide was strongest. I found them on outgoing tides, mostly, but actually hooked my first three on a strong incoming tide right at the tip of Shackleford, on the east side of Beaufort Inlet. All three fish were hooked within 15 feet of the beach.

There are a lot of bait schools with Pelicans and Terns on them, particularly east toward Lookout. Ignore the Pelicans and Terns, even when they are diving near the beaches - they are sitting on bunker or mullet. It's the small groups of gulls that will point you to the Albacore. Longer gummy minnows worked well (4 inches, brownish backs). I used 9 foot leaders, 20lb, with fluorocarbon tippet. Not really sure whether the fluoro was really necessary, but I caught fish.

Finally, for what it's worth, I learned that it IS possible to land an Albie caught on the fly by yourself, and without snapping the rod. But it's a close-run thing, and more luck went into it than anything else. The one picure I did take, of course, was of a fish caught spinning. (Winds were SW at 20+, with standing 6 foot waves at the inlet on Saturday - handling a boat, casting a fly line 40 feet from the beach proved a little too dangerous). The lure pictured, for those willing to fish with spinning tackle, was a small Deadly Dick.

All in all, a fun week, but you really had to work for Albacore. Get a guide and tell them you are willing to throw 500 grain lines for Amberjack/Kings if that's really necessary. Conventional wisdom says that Albert fishing should improve as the waters cool.
 

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