Fish Post

Releases – March 22, 2018

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Anglers who fish on artificial reefs and oyster sanctuaries in the rivers and sounds will notice some changes to the buoys this spring.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program and Oyster Sanctuary Program is replacing the buoys used to mark reef sites in estuarine waters.

The new buoys are white, 13 inches in diameter, with the word “REEF” displayed above an orange diamond. Buoys marking oyster sanctuaries will also display “OYSTER SANCTUARY” on the sides. These new buoys will replace the yellow U.S. Coast Guard Class IV and Class V buoys used until now.

The new buoys are smaller and lighter than those historically employed, but sufficient for use in the sounds and rivers. This will allow staff to service them using smaller vessels, freeing the larger vessel for other shellfish rehabilitation projects.

An artificial reef is a manmade underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom. In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.

The division maintains 43 ocean artificial reefs and 25 estuarine reefs. Fifteen of the estuarine reefs serve as oyster sanctuaries. Ocean reefs are located from one-half mile to 38 miles from shore and are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

Anglers, divers, or boaters needing more information should contact Jason Peters, division artificial reef coordinator, at (252) 808-8063 or


Fifteen lucky fishermen won $100 each in a recent N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Multi-Species Tagging Program yearly drawing. Information gathered from tag returns allows researchers to determine species migration patterns, mortality, population structure, and habitat use.

The tagging program randomly selected tag numbers from the more than 1,011 fish tags that were turned in by fishermen in 2017. Three tag numbers were selected from each of the five species that are tagged by the program.

The $100 winners who turned in tags from cobia were: Joshua Hall of Durham, Austin Cooper of Wake, VA, and William Glenn of Culpeper, VA.

The $100 winners who turned in tags from red drum were: Clara Faye Tyson of Morehead City, David Weighbright of Kitty Hawk, and Alan Johnson of Jacksonville.

The $100 winners who turned in tags for striped bass were: James Holloway of Trent Woods, Paul Morton of Wendell, and Joseph Kinsey of Atlantic Beach.

The $100 winners who turned in tags for southern flounder were: Dominic Vetrano of Arapahoe, Aron Styron III of Cedar Island, and Donald McCall of Greenville, SC.

The $100 winners who turned in tags from spotted seatrout were: Nathan Tanner of Camden, Leavy Vicars of Winterville, and Michael Litchworth of Macclesfield.

The Multi-Species Tagging Program began in October 2014 and is funded by a Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant. Staff and volunteers place yellow or red tags on 15,000 fish each year.

Fishermen who catch the tagged fish and return the tags with required information to the division receive a letter and personalized certificate with information about the fish, as well as a reward. Those who return a yellow tag marked with “NCDMF” receive either $5, a tagging program hat, fish towel, or fish pin. Those who return a red tag marked with “NCDMF” and “$100 REWARD” receive a $100 monetary reward.

Fishermen must record the species, tag number, date, location captured, total length of the fish, fate of the fish (released or harvested), and the type of gear used to capture the fish. Yellow tags may be reported by phone, but red tags must be cut-off and returned to the division for the fisherman to receive the reward.

For more information about the Multi-Species Tagging Program, visit or contact Ami Staples at (252) 948-3913 or


The Board of Directors of the North Carolina Watermen United (NCWU) elected a new President and two Co-Vice Presidents at a recent meeting to kick off 2018.

Elected to the position of Board President is Perry Wood Beasley, originally from Currituck County and now resides in Columbia, NC, with his wife Penny Copeland. He takes on the position of President. Beasley, who crabs and dropnets for a living, has seen what’s been happening to the commercial fisherman in NC and is proud to step forward in protecting the right of everyone to fish in NC waters.

“Too many organizations are trying to limit access and not using good science to make decisions affecting the industry as well as the livelihood of the working waterman,” he stated. Beasley also sits on the NC Marine Fisheries Blue Crab Fishery Management Advisory Committee and actively participates in suggesting guidelines for the NC Marine Fisheries Commission to follow as it relates to the crabbing industry in the state.

In the position of Co-Vice Presidents, Andrew Berry from Manteo and Greg Mayer from Kill Devil Hills stepped up to work with Beasley.

Andrew Berry is an Outer Banks native who was born into a fishing family. He’s been on the water since the age of 12 and currently operates his own boat fishing in the Pamlico, Croatan, and Roanoke sounds for just about every type of fish, including American shad in the winter; bluefish, trout, and spot in the spring; and flounder and mullet in late spring through summer and into the late fall months.

Berry has over 30 years as a gill netter in season and a duck hunting guide in the winter and provides a unique perspective in an industry segment that faces extensive regulations and restrictions. He also sits on the NC Marine Fisheries Funding Resource Committee for commercial fishermen.

Greg Mayer, Co-Vice President, has been fishing professionally for more than 25 years as captain of a charter boat, with the last 15 tears being on the Fishin’ Frenzy out of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. Originally from New Jersey, he worked summers in high school and college on inshore and offshore charter boats and headboats. He was just appointed to the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Council for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

He’s been on the Board of Directors for NCWU since 2008. Mayer has also been part of the Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks TV series for National Geographic for five seasons, winning the challenge for three out of four years.

NCWU, which originally came together in 2005 as a group of commercial, charter/headboat, and recreational anglers, has worked hard to promote the North Carolina fishing industry and protect those who work on the water, along with recreational fishermen who enjoy being able to fish. Of equal importance is the consumer, who may not necessarily fish, but who wants the highest quality protein source in the world–North Carolina fresh seafood.

This organization was originally responsible for developing the idea of Outer Banks Catch as a means of educating the consumer of the benefits of fresh, local NC seafood and has brought the importance of the NC fishing industry to the attention of local, state, and federally elected officials.

Membership in the organization goes to help make sure that possible threats to the industry are taken seriously, that fishermen are kept aware of all the laws that effect fishermen and their ability to make a living on the water, and to deliver (as the seasons permits) good, local seafood fresh from the sounds and ocean that define the east coast of our state.

For more information on the organization, visit or


Recreational harvest of spotted seatrout in inland waters under the jurisdiction of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has closed by rule following a proclamation from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) that closed all coastal and joint waters to spotted seatrout harvest.

DMF issued the proclamation on Jan. 5 due to widespread cold stun events. The spotted seatrout season will remain closed in all waters until June 15, when it will reopen by proclamation from DMF. Under the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan, if a significant cold stun event occurs, DMF will close all Spotted Seatrout harvest until the spring.

Recreational seasons, size limits, and creel limits in inland waters for Flounder, Spotted Seatrout, Red Drum, and Gray Trout are the same as those established in the rules of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission or proclamations issued by the DMF director in adjacent joint or coastal fishing waters. The rule referencing Marine Fisheries’ rules for these four saltwater fish species was implemented in 2011 to standardize recreational seasons and size and creel limits for inland, joint, and coastal waters.

Cold stuns are natural events that occur when there is a sudden drop in water temperature or prolonged periods of cold weather that make the fish sluggish or even kill them outright.

For more information on Proclamation FF-1-2018, visit the DMF’s website, or call (800) 682-2632 or (252) 726-7021.