Hello everyone, it's been a long time since my last report just before Christmas, but its time to get going again and it looks like we've begun a good spring fishing season. We have been reasonably warm, with a fair amount of sunshine for the past few weeks, but we had another short progress buster again early this week. Monday night, it seemed like the December weather that was around for my last column had returned, but today the temps are back in the mid-70's.
The weather forecast has us staying warm, with reasonable overnight lows, at least through Easter Weekend. The wind has been gusty, but looks to be pretty nice, with the exception of Thursday, through at least Sunday. If you want to head out on Thursday, the forecast is only for 15 to 20, but there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Keep an eye to the sky and pay attention to the weather. A short trip is a much better alternative than a bad one.
This is Easter Week and is the beginning of the extended beach season. Many families will be heading to the coast for stays ranging from a long weekend to a spring vacation. Even after all the snow, some NC school systems are out for spring break this week and some next week. This will be the first large group of tourists and fishermen returning to the beaches.
Fresh tuna is the big news at every marina along the entire NC coast. The wind has been rather blustery, but when the conditions allow, the fishing has been good enough that the boats often head in early with their limits. One of the better bites is south of the Big Rock, near Swansboro Hole. There are also hot bites just offshore of Diamond Shoals Tower at Hatteras, between Oregon Inlet and The Point. Just this week, the action around the Steeples and Blackjack Hole, off Southport and Wilmington, really hit high gear. The catches have been primarily yellowfin tuna, with a few blackfin tuna, wahoo, dolphin, and even a few kings mixed in.
Smaller king mackerel have been spread along most of the coast in waters roughly 100 feet deep. This bite should continue for a while as the water slowly warms and moves inshore. As the water warms the kings will move closer to the beaches. These early kings are hitting a variety of spoons, lures, and frozen cigar minnows.
The spring false albacore bite has started strong again. There have been good reports of hungry Alberts from Little River Inlet to Cape Lookout. They vary from just off the ends of the piers to about six miles offshore. Look for fish busting on top of the water and flocks of feeding seagulls.
There have also been some pretty good reports of speckled trout. The first gray trout are being caught also. They usually arrive a little after the sea mullet, which have been biting well for a couple of weeks.
Most of the ocean piers have opened and catching fish. Sea mullet have been the big draw and there are some really nice ones being caught. Fishing at night, with fresh shrimp has been the most productive. There are plenty of puffers, bluefish, and dogfish around to keep you busy during the day.
The red drum reports are getting better as the water warms. There have been some catches of pups to big drum in the surf at Ocracoke and Hatteras. There are also drum biting in many of the sounds and marshes.
I'm really happy to have a report as good as this one for the first of the year and hope that the good news continues.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver