The winds got a bit blustery on Sunday, but for the most part this has been a pretty nice week weather-wise until yesterday (Thursday). When the cold front started moving in, the temperatures dropped a little, the sky clouded up and spit some scattered rain on a few places.
Fortunately it looks like the weather will begin moderating today (Friday). By Saturday, the forecast is for winds of 10 knots or less for the entire N.C. coast. Saturday is shaping up to be the best day of the weekend to go fishing, especially if you are headed offshore in pursuit of those yellowfin tuna.
Sunday's forecast holds a few thunderstorms, but shouldn't be a complete washout. Then, as the weather often does, it appears the winds will lay out and the weather warm back up for next week.
This past Saturday was a very nice day on the water and some of the larger boats ventured out on Sunday as well. Then when the winds fell out there were many boats offshore during the week and most returned with good catches. The prime quarry was yellowfin tuna and there were some limits boated in many locations. Off the central coast, the catch was mixed. There were a good number of wahoo, with some blackfin tuna, a few early dolphin and some kings mixed in.
Off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet there were also some strong catches of bluefin tuna. The bluefin bite was good enough the Tag-A-Giant crew boarded planes and flew in for a couple of days. They tagged an additional 22 bluefins for their effort.
Along the southern coast, the wahoo catch has been good, with a few tuna, both yellowfin and blackfin, and kings mixed in.
There are also good king mackerel reports coming from several locations. The most consistent catches continue to come from the general area of Frying Pan Tower, but the bite is picking up farther up the coast. Almost every boat at the Big Rock had a couple last weekend and they are included in most fishing reports from Hatteras. As the water continues to warm and more baitfish arrive, the kings should begin working their way closer inshore.
Those reports of big spawning black sea bass just keep on coming. Some of the best are from the rocks and wrecks just offshore of the end of Cape Lookout Shoals. These are big fish and provide lots of tasty fillets for your freezer. The other offshore bottom fish are biting well also. A good beginning is to look for rocks or wrecks in about 100 feet of water. Other fish in the offshore bottom catch include grouper, red snapper, beeliners, pinkies (red porgy), triggerfish and tilefish.
There were mixed good reports of red drum from the Ocracoke and Hatteras surf again this week. A couple of nights it was pretty good through a tide or two. In addition, the surf fishermen also caught some pups, a few trout, some sea mullet, a few flounder, bluefish, blowfish and sharks.
Most of the coastal piers will have reopened by today. Those that haven't opened yet will surely be open by next weekend. I received a call from Wally at the Sheraton Pier in Atlantic Beach saying the fishing was already good enough to be interesting. He said they were catching a mixture of sea mullet, but a few approaching 2 pounds had been caught. He also reported blowfish, bluefish, drum, trout and one flounder. This seems to be pretty representative of most piers. Earlier in the week, the surf temperature at Bogue Inlet Pier was 59 degrees.
The inshore reports still focus on a growing number of red drum. Capt. Dave Dietzler said he has sight-fished a school of roughly 150 several times in the last week. They are working the edges of oyster rocks in creeks and marshes.
The speckled trout bite continues to improve as the water warms. Some times the specks are barely keepers and sometimes bigger fish are around. Unfortunately no one, at least no one who is talking, has figured out how to predict which ones will be there at what times. The trout are generally feeding in slightly deeper water than the drum, but often are close by and occasionally feed together.
A few more flounder were caught in various locations this week. Most folks would say it is still a little early for flounder but a few are being caught inshore and at some of the nearshore rocks and reefs. There were even a couple of flounder caught in the surf and from the piers this week. Flounder fishing appears to be improving almost every week.
The sea mullet bite is getting going at the Morehead City Turning Basin and along the channel from there out to Beaufort Inlet. It didn't quite look like a fall spot fleet, but last Sunday there were quite a few boats there and all were catching. Jigging speck rigs tipped with fresh shrimp, while drifting is typically a proven way to catch them. Several fishermen reported using the Fishbites strips in shrimp and bloodworm flavors with good results. They were also catching a few gray trout. Some sea mullet and gray trout are also scattered along Shackleford Banks from just off the Cape Lookout Jetty to the Dead Tree Hole.
Next Sunday is Easter and will bring the first big crowd of the year to the coast. Be prepared for a little more traffic and longer lines at the stores. There will also be longer lines at the launching ramps and more boats on the water. If the weather continues to improve, the fishing should also and there will be a good and varied selection of fish for everyone.