The weather hasn't turned back to winter, but man we sure have had some cool nights and cooler days for the past week. The good news is except for that one rainy day; the sun has been shining and keeping the water from cooling too much.
With the cooler temperatures came some northerly winds. They've been pretty stiff at times too. It has been a rather harsh way to welcome spring in.
We just came through a wind advisory and it looks to be breezy for most of the weekend also. These northerly winds just won't quite go away. The winds are forecast to basically be northerly and 15 to 20 for a while from Surf city to the north and 5 to 10 knots lighter down around Cape Fear. The larger boats may still make the trip offshore from about anywhere, but the smaller boats will be waiting until the last minute to decide and still are marginal for that offshore trip from even the southern inlets.
Those boats that have made it offshore during the past week found a nice mixed bag of fish. Down south of the Big Rock, between the Swansboro Hole and the 400 line, there have been several concentrations of tuna. Almost everyone has caught some blackfins and there are yellowfins also. The wahoo bite has remained very good around the Big Rock, with numerous boats reporting catches of four or more. There have been some yellowfins around the Same Ole, but that is a long trip to make on speculation. The tuna bite off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet remains pretty good.
The spring red drum fishing continues to be excellent overall. The large schools of drum, which had been in the Emerald Isle surf and in Bogue Inlet have moved down the beach to Bear and Browns Inlets. There are also some drum scattered throughout the surf along most of the coast. It's hit and miss fishing at Cape Hatteras, but when the conditions are good the drum move in to the surf at Cape Point.
There are also fair numbers of puppy drum in many of the creeks and marshes in the area. Even with the cooler nights, several fishermen reported afternoon water temperatures reaching 65 and higher. The bait is showing back up and the hungry fish should be following it pretty closely.
The cooler nights haven't slowed the speckled trout bite either. It is holding its own and maybe even improving a little. As the water warms and more bait shows up, the trout are getting aggressive. Rising tides bring fresh water and new baitfish into the marshes and sometimes spur the trout bite.
Several ocean piers opened last weekend. The fishing wasn't fantastic, but there were some fish biting. The report from the piers includes speckled trout, gray trout, a flounder, some early sea mullet, plus some red and black drum.
Some of the best news of the last week was a surprisingly strong sea mullet bite at Morehead City. The sea mullet were in the Morehead City Turning Basin, along the Beaufort Inlet Channel and scattered through the surf along Shackleford Banks. Having fresh shrimp was a key to catching the sea mullet.
The king bite has been getting better and might be really good if the weather would stabilize long enough to get more than just a few boats chasing them. Off Morehead City, the kings have moved in a little to the area around 210 and 240 Rocks, but there were also some caught around the Big Rock. The king bite is still red hot around Frying Pan Tower and a new hot bite was reported off Hatteras over the weekend.
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 and in the Pamlico-Tar River around Washington and Greenville. I was in Kinston one afternoon this week and the parking lot at the Highway 70 boat ramp was almost full. This is a good sign the shad are in full migration. The other good sign was seeing the bank fishermen lifting shad out of the water as I crossed the bridge. I am hearing reports of growing numbers of shad along the Roanoke River at Weldon.
Calcutta has announced the 2006 Calcutta Wahoo Challenge Series from Morehead City. The two tournaments are April 20-22 and October 19-21. For more information call 252-241-3348 or visit www.calcuttawahoo.com.