Last Saturday was April Fools Day, but Mother Nature wasn't fooling around with the weather. It stayed fairly breezy, but after threatening some showers early in the day, the weather cleared and became almost hot. What it didn't get for hot Saturday afternoon it found on Sunday. I was in Charleston, S.C. for the Shallow Water Expo and they set a new record of 90 degrees on Sunday.
After that we had a couple of cooler nights this week, with warming temperatures into the weekend, but another cooler spell is forecast over the weekend. It is time for our weather to start leveling out and staying consistently warm. If we don't know whether to set the thermostat for heating or cooling, imagine how the fish and animals feel.
Unfortunately we aren't looking at a mild weekend wind-wise. Above Surf City, the winds will begin breezing up from a southerly direction on Friday and stay around 20, while switching to a northerly direction, through Sunday. Below Surf City the forecast is for less wind, but it still bears watching. It is spring, and fronts move faster or slower than forecast, but the initial forecast is for a rather breezy weekend.
The warmer days of the past week or so have warmed the waters back up. I got in a quick trip and saw lots of mid 60's in several creeks and the ICW. The report from several piers put the temperature in the surf around 63 and that could warm a couple more degrees by the weekend.
Once again the offshore fishing was the highlight of the week. The word is out the tuna have arrived and many boats are taking advantage of every weather window and heading offshore. The offshore catches have primarily been yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, wahoo and kings. A couple of bluefins were reported again, although mostly off Hatteras.
Other offshore reports included a blue marlin, a white marlin and a spearfish off Cape Lookout during the last week. This is early for them and bodes well for the upcoming season.
The king bite continues to improve and a few reports show them edging closer in as the water warms and the bait moves in. Off Cape Lookout there has been a pretty consistent king bite from the edges of the Gulf Stream in to around 210 and 240 Rocks. The bite remains red hot around Frying Pan Tower and they are also around the wrecks off Hatteras. Most are smaller kings, but there have been enough 25 to 30 pounders being caught to get a king mackerel fisherman's attention.
More bait showed up again this week. The gannets, pelicans and sea gulls were having a heyday diving on it along the beaches. It can't be too long before lots of fish are following it in.
With the warming water, those big schools of red drum are beginning to break up some. There are still good numbers of puppy drum in many of the creeks and marshes from Pamlico Sound to the S.C. state line, but they are spreading out and just aren't as concentrated in small areas.
I've heard good and bad about the speckled trout bite over the last week. The good news is there seems to be a lot of smaller specks after the winter. The bad news is there doesn't seem to be a lot of larger specks being caught right now.
A few early flounder are being reported. I had heard they weren't very aggressive, but the one I caught last week had an attitude. It hit a grub I was fishing along an oyster rock for drum. The hit was strong and stopped the bait, just like a drum. Even though it didn't run well, I was still surprised to see a flounder on the end of my line. It wasn't quite 14 inches, but was so thin I wouldn't have kept it anyway. It should fatten up over the summer and weigh several pounds by fall.
I also had a few hand-size spots hit my grubs in that same creek. I thought they were pinfish until I managed to snag a couple.
The piers have only been open a couple of weekends and there are good reports. The most exciting thing is a reoccurring run of nice sea mullet. The best time for them has been around dark and many weigh over a pound. In addition to the sea mullet, the pier catch includes speckled trout, gray trout, a few flounder, big blowfish, spots, red drum, black drum, and dogfish.
The sea mullet bite is also going off in the Morehead City Turning Basin. A few gray trout are mixed in also. The fish are scattered throughout the area, with several reports saying the Atlantic Beach side of the channel is better.
The first tournament of the year is the spring event in the 2006 Calcutta Wahoo Challenge Series from Morehead City. This tournament is only a few weeks off at April 20-22, with the fall tournament scheduled for October 19-21. In conjunction with the Spring Wahoo Challenge, the Take A Kid Fishing Boat and Tackle Expo is scheduled for the same weekend at the Crystal Coast Civic Center. For more information call 252-241-3348 or visit www.calcuttawahoo.com.