Those March winds are blowing and most of this weekend looks to be a little too windy to be far offshore or in open water on a smaller boat. The wind is forecast to fall out a little faster along the southern coast, but the tale will be told with how quickly the front actually moves through. Right now Saturday night to Sunday looks to be the passing and the warmer southerly winds will switch to northerly influenced and the daytime high temperatures should drop about 10 degrees. That's not too bad though as they will only fall from around 70 to around 60.
There is a chance of rain in the weekend forecast also, but mainly for Saturday into Sunday and no way it will be the frog-strangler we had last Friday. I'm not complaining, as we are still in drought conditions and nowhere near catching up.
Hey pier fishermen! Most of the N.C. piers are opening this weekend. Bogue Inlet Pier will open Friday and work with the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department on the St. Patrick's Day celebration and the Sheraton Pier will open on Saturday. Most of the piers along the southern coast will open for the season sometime this weekend. Those piers that don't get open this weekend should open by next Friday for the Easter Weekend.
Even better--there just might be some fish waiting also. I saw lots of pictures this week of puppy drum being caught in the surf. The water temperature in the surf is in the high 50's and unless a bad cold front moves in we should see some fish from the piers. There could also be bluefish, some early sea mullet and gray trout, maybe some blowfish and the dogfish should be around to test any leftover line or tackle.
We're finishing up our first week of Daylight Savings Time and, while it took a few days to adjust to the darkness later in the morning, I'm happy to say I have already taken advantage of the daylight later in the day to get in a fishing trip. Shake off those excuses folks. We now have time to get in a quick fishing trip after work and the daylight hours are getting longer every day.
Once again the better inshore fishing was puppy drum and speckled trout. The pups have ranged from the surf to well back in the marshes and creeks. Some fishermen have reported schools separated by size, but many have said the sizes are mixed from below to just over slot size. Several surf fishermen said the water temperature was just shy of when the bull reds move back into the surf and if the weather stayed warm the first ones could show in the next couple of weeks.
There were some nice specks caught this week. Trout bit along most of the coast, but most of the larger ones were reported as caught in the creeks off the Neuse River from the steel tower below Oriental upriver almost to New Bern. I didn't hear a water temperature from any of those creeks, but Capt. Dave Dietzler said he saw 61 degrees in several of the backwaters in the Morehead City area.
Many of the fishermen catching specks in the creeks off the Neuse River also reported catching a few stripers. These reports of striper catches in the inland rivers have been good for a while so this isn't a big surprise. Several of the better striper spots have been around the Manns Harbor Bridge, the Pamlico/Tar River change around Washington and in the Neuse and Trent Rivers around New Bern.
I also heard a little more this week about the shad run improving in the rivers. There were several days of good fishing in the Neuse River and its creeks above New Bern, in the Tar River above Grimesland and the Roanoke River above Plymouth. These are hickory shad, usually weighing less than two pounds, but they are loads of fun on light tackle as they run and jump, almost like a baby tarpon.
Last week I heard several good reports of yellowfin tuna, but this week the weather has been a little windier and the few tuna reports have been mainly blackfins and bluefins. The blackfins have been all along the coast and have included some individuals over 30 pounds. The bluefins are mostly juveniles and have been from Hatteras to Oregon Inlet. Some wahoo are also being caught offshore.
With the weather and water warming, many king mackerel fishermen are chomping at the bit to go fishing. Unfortunately the kings are still holding 30 to 40 miles offshore. The good news is there are lots of them to be caught when the weather allows the trip and you find them. The rocks and ledges northeast of Frying Pan Tower have been holding kings well for several weeks.
Even though the federal fisheries managers say they are in dire need of stricter management measures and smaller (number) limits, the offshore bottomfish continue to be an extremely consistent fishery. While it takes a while to weed through the shorts and find a limit of 12 inchers, black sea bass are holding on many rocks and wrecks within sight of the beach. For groupers, snappers, triggerfish and others, the bite begins at approximately 100 feet deep.
I'm not aware of a boat show or fishing school this weekend in N.C. However, the Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium will be held at the Great Neck Community Recreation Center in Virginia Beach, Va. on Saturday, March 15. Several of the presenters regularly tackle large fish from their paddle craft and, with rising gas prices, the sport may be poised to expand rapidly. It sure gets my wallet's attention every trip to the gas pumps. For more information call 757-431-8566 or visit www.wildriveroutfitters.com.