It has been unusual and changing weather for the past few weeks and I was glad to see some warm and sunny weather this week. Unfortunately, the extended forecast says it wonít last and weíll be cooling off again by Monday, to be real cold by Friday. There is a weather scenario setting up again that could bring snow to the areas west of I-95. I hope that is wrong, but Iíd rather have snow than more ice. Weíve had enough ice along the N.C. Coast
This week I received the first offshore reports in a few weeks or more. The fishing wasnít hot, but the folks who took advantage of the light winds caught some fish for their efforts. Some fishermen headed to the edge of the break and caught bottom fish in 100 to 125 feet of water. The reports are there were some triggerfish and beeliners holding over most of the wrecks and lower structure was holding black sea bass, grunts and porgys.
A few fishermen went all the way to the temperature breaks at the edge of the Gulf Stream and caught a few wahoo, blackfin tuna and king mackerel. Several reported seeing large schools of false albacore.
On the inshore side of things, there have been some sporadic reports of fishermen catching and releasing speckled trout. With the season closed, most fishermen arenít targeting them but have caught a few while fishing for puppy drum and stripers.
Puppy drum are schooling in some areas and just not spread too far in others. Look for places without a lot of water exchange as they should be warmer. Pay attention to signs in shallow water when fishing for pups. Many fishermen are finding some every day, but they arenít always in the places they expect to find them and paying attention and spotting a push has saved several days.
The warm weather and sunshine this week will probably confuse the drum again and they will move or develop temporary lockjaw when the temperature drops next week. The constant wild swings have to be confusing to the fish, they certainly are confusing to the fishermen I have spoken with.
The one thing most of the drum fishermen agree on is that baits and lures that smell good are more productive. Some like fresh cut bait and pieces of shrimp, while others like scented soft baits and others prefer to add their favorite scent to unscented baits.
Reports of good striper action continue to come from all the N.C. coastal rivers. Stripers are being caught in the Neuse and Trent Rivers around New Bern, the Cape Fear and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers at Wilmington, the Tar-Pamlico around Washington and in the Roanoke and Chowan around Plymouth and Edenton.
Striper reports are similar in all the places they are being caught. They have been hitting a variety of soft plastics, hard baits and pieces of cut bait. They like baits that smell good too, and several fishermen said scented baits definitely drew more strikes than unscented ones. Check the regulations for stripers before keeping any. The regulations vary by area and the season is currently closed in several areas.
I received a secondhand report of a great white shark circling a boat several times early this week. There are several tagged ones moving up and down the coast from Delaware to Florida and Iím sure there are a bunch without locating tags around too. This could be a true report.
I donít know about everyone else, but it gives me the heebie-jeebies when a shark or other really large fish swims around the boat more than once. Fish donít get that big without eating a lot and Iím always wondering if the are curious or hungry.
There were several Cultch Planting Public Meetings that had to be rescheduled due to the ice storm of last week. The meeting originally scheduled for February 11 at 6:00 P.M. at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Wilmington Field Office in Wilmington has been rescheduled for the same time and location on February 24. The meeting originally scheduled for February 12 at the North Topsail Town Hall in North Topsail Beach has been rescheduled for the same time and location on February 25. For more information contact Craig Hardy at 252-808-8046 or Craig.Hardy@ncdenr.gov.
The Marine Fisheries Commission is meeting at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City this week from Wednesday to Friday. Several important issues, including the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan and the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan are on the agenda. It will be interesting to see the results of this meeting. For more information and a complete agenda, visit www.ncdmf.net and open the Public Meetings header.
The Snapper Grouper Committee of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) will be holding Port Meetings in North Carolina the week of March 17 to 21 as part of the SAFMC Visioning Project. The SAFMC Visioning Project is the latest project to develop long-term management for the Snapper Grouper fishery off the South Atlantic states.
The N.C. Port Meeting schedule includes a 10:00 A.M. meeting at Cape Fear Restaurant in Southport and a 1:30 P.M. meeting at the Wing and Fish Company in Shallotte on March 17; 1:00 P.M. at Tís Cafť in Sneads Ferry on March 18; 11:00 A.M. at Sanitary Fish Market in Morehead City and 6:00 P.M. at the Raleigh Country Club in Raleigh on March 19; and a morning meeting at Wanchese and an afternoon meeting at Hatteras on March 20. The locations and times for the Wanchese and Hatteras meetings have not been finalized. To RSVP or more information on the Visioning Project and Port Meetings, visit the SAFMC website at www.safmc.net.
Several shows, expos and seminars are on tap over the next two weeks. The Cape Lookout Fly Fishers have two events this week. The first will be a dinner get-together at Cox Restaurant in Morehead City at 6:30 tonight, February 21. The second will be a free casting class at the Morehead City Recreation Center at 1600 Fisher Street in Morehead City from 10:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. on Saturday February 22. More information on the Cape Lookout Fly Fishers, their meetings and public seminars can be found at www.CapeLookoutFlyFishers.com.
The Fishermanís Post Saltwater Fishing School will be held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City on February 22. This is an all-day event. For more information visit www.fishermanspost.com.
The International Custom Rod Building Exposition will be held February 22 and 23 at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem. The event will include rod building displays, booths selling components and accessories and seminars. For more information visit www.icrbe.com.
The Dixie Deer Classic will be held February 28 through March 2 at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This is the top show in the state for deer hunters and it will have many exhibits and booths selling hunting equipment. There will also be a 3-D archery shoot and a competition for deer, with scoring taking place on site and mounts on display. Several regional and national experts will present seminars on various aspects of deer hunting. For more information visit www.wakecountywildlifeclub.com.
On March 1 Captains Dave Stewart and Gary Dubiel will host the Coastal Catchiní Seminar at the Shrine Club in New Bern. For more information visit www.pamlicotackle.com.