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North Carlolina Reef Donkys

Written by Scott Stonex on October 6th, 2014.      0 comments

This trip started around two years ago when I was invited to join Chip Baker a member of an international jig fishing forum on what was my real first jigging trip. I had been jigging before with mixed results, I met Chip (Chip is the skipper and owner of "Offshore Experiences" Sport fishing) we fished together the following day at Mayor Island on "Primo Charters" & to be honest Chip taught me to jig over that day. I have been jig fishing hard out ever since.
    Chip and I have stayed in touch over the net and I have seen some of the huge fish he and his customers have been catching off the North Carolina Coast, including Amberjacks up to 130lbs
Example pictures below

P.S. This is what 130lb AJ/Reef Donkey looks like

Well on an business trip & I thought it would be rude not to make that extra flight from Tennessee to Wilmington NC. I called Chip he told me its not the perfect time of year because it would be cold, but he was sure he could find a fish or two. So I booked a hotel for 4 days to cover myself for bad weather.
      I arrived in Wilmington to icy cold weather, well to be honest Orlando and Nashville were also cold also with a huge band of snow bringing most of the continental USA temperature down to sub freezing.
    I arrived in Wilmington Monday evening, Chip and another charter skipper Arlen meet me at airport and got me sorted into my hotel. There was some talk about the weather not being good but sure we could get out Wed, Thursday & Friday. Tuesday dawned, snowing hard, so I killed most of Tuesday in Tex's Tackle tackle shop, where Chip & Arlen work when not taking charters.
      I was informed many times over the day it only snows in Wilmington once every 10 years - great it picked the four days I had chosen to be in town! The weather was looking terrible, I tried to stay positive.

    Wednesday I hung around the hotel and prayed for the weather to improve. Got a call from Chip around noon telling me we were on for Thursday & maybe Friday. Screwed some reels onto my rods ready for combat.
    Chip picked me up at 5-15 the next morning and we headed to the the Masonboro inlet / harbor, part of the inter-coastal water way and slipped Chips 28' Contender Centre console in the water. Here is where things got kind of interesting/different to home. The deck was covered in 10mm of ice and it's hard to tie your boat to the dock when the rope is frozen solid & you can't put fish ice in lockers that are frozen shut.

David, another friend, joined us for the days fishing, gear was loaded and Chip fired up the 2x 200HP Yammi's for the 2,3/4 hour run out to the edge of the gulf stream, Most of this trip was covered at 30-35 knots. David and I hunkered down on bean bags trying not to freeze. (It was cold!!!!!)
      We arrived at our destination, the edge of the Gulf Stream much warmer than inshore. Chip had a quick stouge around found sign and called the drop, flipping the bail arm over I was first to the bottom (no surprises there;-)) with a 500gram Broken Arrow my favourite jig, flip the bail back into position, lifted the rod twice and came tight on my first NC Amberjack of around 30lbs. The rest of the day was what can only be called sick! Many Amberjacks, Amalco Jacks, Jacks with big eyes no one could identify, Gag Grouper and Little Tuna came over the side. I would like to say I got my 100lb AJ but it was not to be, most of the AJs were 50lbers & we each caught a number in the 60-65lb range. The Amalco Jacks were from 5lb to 30lb and if they got as big as AJs they would be a handful, fighting like 50lb fish.
Below is how Chip described the action for US Jigging forum.
Chip Baker
" The fishing was as wide open as it gets. It was literally one drop one fish all day. Maybe three drops all day between three people fishing we didn't hook. up. We caught nearly 100 AJs. 60-65 pounds was the biggest and lots in the 30-50 pound range."
End Quote

Due to the weather I ended up with only the one day on the water but the fishing, WOW!
The fishing in North Carolina is as good as it gets & the really exciting thing is the different species you can catch on jigs. AJs as big as any where in the world. Wahoo, YFT, Black Fin Tuna, BFT, Sailfish & more types of Grouper than I can name, Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, African Pompano... I am sure I have missed many others I am not familiar with.
I would like to thank Chip, Arlen & David for your friendship and a magic trip.
You're friends for life, can't wait until Dec when we rampage all over the Ranfurly.



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