We have been warm but very windy for about a week now. The larger boats are running, but the winds have been breezing to the point that even the larger boats aren't always comfortable. With all this sun and heat, the water temperatures are rising and the fishing should continue to improve. The inshore temperatures got back into the 60's last week and should make those fish much more active. This is Easter Weekend coming up so maybe the winds will fall out and make things more comfortable on the big boats and accessible to the smaller boats. Whatever happens, get prepared for a large crowd at the beach and in the water.
Inshore fishing has been a bit irregular along the NC coast. There are some reports of trout and whiting, which should continue to improve as the water warms. Back up some of the smaller creeks and along the marshy edges of the shallower sounds, there have been some schools of red drum. When the drum are back up in the creeks, it often requires poling, rather than running the motor, to get there without spooking them. The reward is usually worth the effort.
In the central part of the state, the large trout have slowed down. There have been some scattered smaller trout and puppy drum. Farther to the north, around Manteo and Manns Harbor, there have been enough hungry stripers around to keep fishermen smiling. Favorite spots have been around the bridges. Speaking of stripers, the annual run up the Roanoke River is just getting going. The next several weeks in the Weldon area, should produce many fishing days that are the stuff a fisherman's dreams are made of.
Surf and Pier
Even with the southwest wind blowing, the pier fishing is getting better. Most of the piers are open and those that aren't should open this weekend. Sea mullet (whiting), bluefish, the occasional gray or speckled trout, a few black and red drum, spots, blowfish, sharks, and Chinese flounder (skates) are making up the bulk of the catch. With the heat of the past week, improvements could come rapidly.
There have been some bluefish and scattered sea mullet around most of the inshore artificial reefs and the false albacore have been around for a while. Gray trout are only a few weeks away. It is time for the Atlantic bonito to begin biting off Wrightsville Beach.
The kings have been biting well in water around 100 feet deep. Frying Pan Tower is a hotspot that is a little shallower than this, but its location, at the end of Frying Pan Shoals, generally makes it fish as though it were significantly deeper. Bottom bouncers also did well with sea bass, grunts, and a few grouper. Similar king and bottom fish bites are happening off Morehead City and Hatteras. The kings are mostly small fish except off Hatteras, where smokers are being caught fairly regularly. Remember James Winch's 82.25 pound State Record King was caught off Hatteras on April 19, 1999.
Tuna are being caught all along the NC Coast. Most are yellowfins and blackfins, but some 200-300 pound bluefins are still around off Hatteras. The yellowfins are mostly 20 to 30 pounders but enough over 60 pounds are around to keep things interesting. More wahoo, some dolphin, and several billfish have been in the recent offshore mix and their numbers should continue to increase.