The first thing that I would like to do is recognize a couple of outstanding catches. The first is the 75.5 pound king mackerel that Tess Carota, of Walton, Kentucky, caught out of Hatteras on April 6. She was on a charter trip with Captain Fin Gaddy, on the "Qualifier" out of Oden's Dock. The monster king hit a dead ballyhoo that was being trolled on a live bait rig. It measured 60 inches long and 30 inches in girth. They were fishing very close to where James Winch caught his 82 pound, 4 ounce State Record King Mackerel last April. I find it very interesting that these two fish were caught in the same basic area almost exactly a year apart.
The attached picture was sent by Dan Oden of Oden's Dock. Pictured left to right are Tess Carota, angler; Josh Stafford, mate (holding fish): and Captain Fin Gaddy.
The second outstanding catch was the 92 pound wahoo that was caught at the Blackjack Hole, off Ocean Isle, in late March. Doug Armstrong, Don Klutz, and Mike Griffin, of the Charlotte area, were the happy crew of the "Overkill". The fight lasted an hour on 50 pound class tackle. Armstrong said that after he gaffed the huge hoo, he needed everyone's help to pull it in the boat. They also caught and released a blue marlin and kept a yellowfin tuna. It sounds like they got to hear a reel scream a couple of times.
The attached picture was sent in by Armstrong. Pictures left to right are Doug Armstrong, Mike Griffin, and Don Klutz.
Unfortunately the weather has not been very stable or predictable over the last week or so. The real shame is that this looks to be continuing into the Easter weekend. Fronts are rolling through very quickly, but it at least appears that the next few days will be under the general influence of a warmer high pressure system. The days should be mostly sunny, but they will probably also be windy. As rapidly as the weather has been changing, you should keep a close watch on the marine weather forecasts.
For the most part, the fish have been biting when the weather allowed fishermen to venture offshore. School size (20 to 30 pounds) yellowfin tuna have been the biggest part of the catch. There have been a fair number of wahoo and dolphin in the catch also, along with a few king mackerel. Billfish are already surprising anglers on an almost daily basis. In the past few days there have been a good number of large (60 to 90 pound) yellowfins in the daily catches.
Because of the weather, the bulk of the offshore report is from the Hatteras area. Farther south on the coast the run to productive offshore waters is just too far on a marginal day. Those boats, that have endured the rough waters and long trips, have been catching fish very consistently. From Hatteras Inlet, the trip to productive offshore waters is usually only twenty-some miles. These boats can often get in a day's fishing in marginal conditions.
The fish have been biting offshore and that is not expected to change anytime soon. It the winds lay to a point that the trip is makeable, you should be able to catch some fish.
This is an area that hasn't gotten as much attention as usual over the past few weeks. The reasons are twofold. First of course has been the unrelenting wind and second is the fact that this area is usually fished in smaller boats, which are far less comfortable in marginal conditions. From what we have been hearing, there is a lot of promise for this area, once the wind lays out some.
Sea mullet (whiting) should be present on some of the softer bottoms along the coast. They are just about ready to be joined by gray trout. Bluefish have been increasing around structure and the first spanish mackerel of the year have been reported off Wrightsville Beach and Atlantic Beach. The spring bonito run, off Wrightsville Beach, continues to thrill youngsters and oldsters alike. Luckily the bonito fishing is fairly close to the beach and with the predominantly southwest winds, the land has been creating a lee in this area.
This fishing should continue to improve over the next few weeks. As the weather warms, the bonito bite will slow and gradually end. If it's calm enough to make the trip, you should be able to find some action.
Surf and Pier Zone
This has been the saving grace of much of the coast for the past few weeks. Even when it appeared to be too rough for man or beast, the sea mullet (whiting) have been biting. When it is rough, most fishermen can't cast far enough to reach the fish so the piers become slightly crowded. The balance of the catch has been spots, croakers, black drum, gray trout, bluefish, blowfish, bonito, and false albacore. This past week, the first spanish mackerel of the year were caught at Sportsman Pier, in Atlantic Beach. While some piers are still rebuilding from the hurricane damage of last year, many are open and ready for business.
Red drum fishing has been very good at Cape Point, in Buxton. Several of the past nights have given up over 100 drum. The mixture runs all the way from pups, through yearlings, to old drum. The Outer Banks tackle shops have been busy writing up release citations. Blues, gray trout, and sea mullet have also been very prominent in the catches.
This good fishing should last for a while longer. The larger drum will leave as the water warms, but they should be replaced by flounder and more. When the wind slows and the surf clears up some, the surf fishing has potential to be excellent.
My reports from the inshore side have been a bit spotty lately. With all this wind, the small boat fishermen have been looking for protected water. They have been venturing well back up into creeks, that don't usually get much fishing pressure at all. Sometimes the reports have been excellent and sometimes they have been awful. The main players in this game are speckled trout, red drum, and flounder. The best flounder reports are coming from the Southport area, while the best drum reports are from the creeks, off the waterway, between Carolina Beach and Topsail, and the best speckled trout reports are coming from the creeks around the lower Neuse River and Pamlico Sound.
Craig Lanier, of the Neuse Sport Shop in Kinston, gave the trout fishermen a hot tip on a new bait this week. He says that the new Berkley "Electric Chicken" 4 inch, curl tail grub is deadly on speckled trout. His recommendation comes from several excellent personal experiences.
This fishing should improve greatly when the wind finally dies out. At that point the water can clear up and fishermen will be able to fish their favorite holes. Maybe that will begin over the weekend.