Monday, October 21, 2013

Menhaden is a word that has been in my vocabulary even before I knew what having a vocabulary meant.  I used to go with my Dad to catch menhaden for his trips offshore growing up.  I remember seeing loads of these schools of shiny fish when I was younger.  Not so much any longer, at least not in the creeks and channels where they used to be plentiful.  My theory is that the flood of hurricanes the Wrightsville Beach area had in the late 90s disrupted the normal menhaden migration.

Two years ago, fishing at low tide on a shoal at Cape Fear, I experienced one of the coolest marine events involving menhaden.  We were catching pigfish and whiting, so our focus was narrowed.  That is until we could hear the menhaden approaching.  It took some time for the 200 yard school of menhaden to reach us, and even longer for them to move south along Frying Pan Shoals.  But, those 30 minutes were ones I will never forget.  I just wish I had it all on camera.  It was if the menhaden planned on giving us a show of our lifetime.  My sister, my friend with her young son, had just arrived on the shoal to shell, when the shark show started.  The menhaden were popping along the surface when the shark fins starting shooting through them, sometimes jumping out of the sea.  I think a tarpon even got in on the fun.  I managed to film a small bit, it doesn't do it justice - but, you can see the menhaden.  You never know what you will witness hunting and gathering along the coast.  It's better than any TV show or film you pay money to watch.

Recently, while shelling on Masonboro Island, I came across another school of menhaden.  Hoping for another shark attack, I filmed for a bit.  But, I only captured the action of the school swimming in the breakers.  Maybe next time.

Happy hunting and gathering!

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