Man! How about that weather last weekend? It almost made me wonder if we had skipped a season and went straight to summer. It was a little windy on Saturday, but Sunday was a fine spring fishing day if there ever was one. I hope you were able to take advantage of it and get out on the water.
Unfortunately it didn't last and now it looks like we might have to pay for it this weekend. We'll have a front moving through, complete with northerly winds and cold temperatures, but there seems to be a little question as to just who will get what. The high on Sunday and Monday at Morehead City isn't forecast to get out of the 40's, but just down the coast at Sneads Ferry they are forecasting mid to upper 50's those same days. Both places are supposed to get some gusty northerly winds from Saturday through Monday. I guess the question is just where the boundaries on the front will be?
Along the northern N.C. coast, there is a small craft advisory posted for southerly winds on Friday, with the winds switching to the west that afternoon and then moving to northwest and staying basically out of the north for the remainder of the weekend. Some of the larger boats may still make the trip offshore, but us smaller boats will be looking for protected waters. The forecast is similar, but with winds 5-10 knots less from Surf City to the south. It could be an interesting weekend.
Those boats that headed offshore last Sunday and a few days this week found a nice mixed bag. Off Oregon Inlet it was mostly yellowfin tuna, while off Hatteras, Cape Lookout and Cape Fear it was a mixture of yellowfins, blackfins and wahoo. The wahoo bite was excellent around the Big Rock, with several boats catching four or more.
The first blue marlin of the year was landed off Hatteras. The water is warming quickly and we should be surprised to begin hearing of occasional billfish catches.
The red drum fishing continues to be excellent. There have been good drum catches from the point at Cape Hatteras to the South Carolina line. Some big drum have made an appearance in the surf at Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke. There should also be some at Drum Inlet and Cape Lookout, but I haven't gotten reports from those areas.
There are also fair numbers of puppy drum in many of the creeks and marshes in the area. I did my weekly afternoon trip and tried to concentrate on trout, but was attacked by 24 to 26 inch reds. It was a nice problem to have. A 3-inch white Gulp shrimp, fished about 18 inches under a 3-inch cigar-shaped Sea Striker rattling cork, got their attention. At low tide, I saw the water temperature ease into the 60's in several places.
Even though I didn't find them on my short little trip, the speckled trout bite is moving right along and maybe even improving a little. More bait is showing up, the water is warming and the trout are getting aggressive.
Several more piers will open along the coast this weekend. A few pier anglers have gotten a head start and been catching some trout, plus red and black drum over the last week or so. This week there were even a few spots caught off the Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle piers. Yep, you read that right, spots! Unless we get a long shot of freak cold weather, I believe we will be having an early spring.
Several hot king bites were reported again last weekend. The key was getting out to 65 to 67 degree water and then moving to the next structure or pod of bait. I didn't hear from anyone who went east. The warm water has been basically just offshore of 14 Buoy at Morehead City and near Frying Pan Light Tower, off Southport. The kings were hitting spoons and swimming plugs, but really favored cigar minnows and frozen were just fine.
Good striper and shad reports continue to come from the Neuse River around New Bern, with good shad reports continuing upstream in the Neuse to Kinston, in the Pamlico-Tar River around Washington and Greenville and in the Cape Fear River, just below Lock and Dam #1 at Riegelwood. I also got the first shad reports from the upper Roanoke this week
The final event of the North Carolina Sportsman Magazine 2006 Fishing Schools Series will be in Greenville this Saturday, March 18. It will be at South Central High School and there is room available and you can register at the door that morning. The school features 6 different sessions each hour throughout the day. It begins at 9:00 and runs to 4:30, with lunch and many door prizes included. Adults can register for $65 and additional immediate family members can be added for $35 each. Call 1-800-538-4355 or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com for more information.