Very spring-like are good words to describe our weather since last week's report. We even had a few incidents of those severe thunderstorms rolling in on us. When we get to this time of year, the fronts are rolling across the country and sometimes the weather boundaries just get so collapsed the mingling of opposite fronts creates those issues with severe weather.
While we definitely needed the rain, no one wanted or needed the lightning, wind shears and tornadic activity. The intensity varied with exactly where you were when a frontal boundary crossed, but it was severe in places and there were a few injuries and substantial loss of power.
How about that phrase, tornadic activity? I guess we're just trying to be too politically correct--even with the weather. It used to be the weather looked like tornadoes were possible and you either had them or got lucky and didn't. One thing for sure is we all still want to be lucky and miss the tornadoes.
I mentioned the March winds last week and they are firing up this week just to prove my point. For the most part it has been a good time not to be out fishing. However, there were a few days of lower winds and the fish bit pretty well. With this morning's forecast, it will be a couple more days before the winds give us a break and we see if they will bite again.
Even with the windy weather of the past week I have a few more and better fishing reports this week. There is also some other good news.
Bogue Inlet Pier will be reopening for the season on Friday, March 14 and be followed by the Sheraton Pier on March 15. With Easter being the following weekend, I expect all the N.C. piers to be open by Good Friday, March 21.
The folks at Red Drum Tackle reported the bridge work is completed and Highway 12 on Ocracoke re-opened on Wednesday, March 5 at 5:00 P.M. This is 10 days ahead of schedule and very welcome.
Daylight Savings Time begins early again this year and Sunday (yes, this Sunday, March 9) is when. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead an hour when you retire to bed on Saturday night. In keeping with the reminder--this is also a good time to change the batteries and make sure your fire and smoke alarms are in good working order.
Several fishermen are reporting good catches of red drum and speckled trout during the past week. These catches run from pups in the surf at Cape Hatteras to specks in the creeks in Brunswick County. The pups ranged from under slot to over slot fish, with some really hitting hard. The specks were mostly smaller, but with several catches of larger fish from the Neuse River and the creeks off it. The hot area for those larger fish was from just below New Bern to South River.
The water has warmed a few degrees and it has seemed to make the fish a little more active. I heard surf temperatures in the upper mid 50's and low tide creek temps above 60 degrees. If we don't have a late run of cold weather, the fishing is about to become real good.
I am hearing a little more each week about shad in the rivers. The run isn't strong yet and they aren't everywhere like they will be later, but some hickory shad are being caught in the Neuse and Tar Rivers and the creeks that join them. Light tackle, with Nungesser 000 size spoons and shad darts, can make for a lot of fun.
The inland river striper reports have been pretty good also. The most consistent action has been around the old Manns Harbor Bridge, between Manteo and Manns Harbor. Even when the stripers aren't holding right along the bridge, the flocks of birds that usually follow them can often be spotted out in the Albemarle Sound within sight of the bridge. Good striper activity is also being reported in the Pamlico/Tar River around Washington and around New Bern in the Trent and Neuse Rivers.
Several fishermen took advantage of the good weather conditions last Friday and Sunday to head offshore. Those trips resulted in catches of tunas, kings and bottom fish.
The best tuna reports were some schools of 60 to 90 pound yellowfins a little north of the Big Rock. There were also some juvenile bluefins off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet and blackfins scattered along most of the coast. A few wahoo also grabbed baits intended for the tunas.
Numerous fishermen reported hot king mackerel action. Capt. Tommy Rickman said kings in the mid-20 pound range were hitting spoons a little northeast of Frying Pan Tower.
Offshore bottom fish have been the closest and most reliable ocean fishing all winter and that continued. Black sea bass are as close as many of the nearshore rocks, wrecks and artificial reefs. Grouper, snapper and several different species of grunts start showing up at around 100 feet deep.
North Carolina Sportsman Magazine will be holding their 2008 Saltwater Fishing School at Barwell Road Community Center in Raleigh on Saturday, March 8. It is scheduled to be a full day of interesting sessions on all kinds of saltwater fishing and many closely related topics. The subjects will range from speckled trout to yellowfin tuna, with sessions on knots, basic boating and safety, marine electronics and more intertwined throughout the day. For more information call 1-800-538-4355 or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com. Tickets will be available at the door.