Wow, did we just have a great weekend or what? I know it's early, but I saw a few sunburns and a noticeable number of instances of "raccoon eyes" from fishermen and other beachgoers. Hopefully this weather pattern will last for a while. As I am writing this, it is forecast to hold through Friday. I haven't seen a long range report, but maybe we will get lucky and it last through the weekend. We have had so much unusual weather over the past year that we are due for several nice weekends in a row. Hopefully we are just getting started.
With better weather, more folks are going fishing, there are many more fishing reports, and the really good news is that most fishermen have been successful. The water temperature is still just a little cool, but many of the spring fish have arrived and brought their appetite with them.
With the sunny and warm weather forecast of this week, we should see the water warm a couple of degrees and maybe even see the fishing heat up a little more. If it gets much better, it will remove any doubt regarding this being the best spring fishing in quite a few years.
Starting in the inside waters, there have been a growing number of gray trout catches to add to the already good sea mullet (whiting) catches. The turning basin at Morehead City has been a hot spot for both of these fish for a couple of weeks now. Some speckled trout are also stirring, but their catches have not been particularly consistent like many of the other inshore fish. There are also some puppy drum moving through the coastal marshes and the sounds. Smaller bluefish have also come through the inlets in many places.
The spring's first good large drum bite started this past weekend in the Outer Banks surf. There were excellent catches at the south end of Ocracoke and at Cape Hatteras. The area tackle shops are predicting that this bite will last as long as the wind stays out of the south. The five day forecast is just right for this to continue.
The ocean piers south of Cape Hatteras have been reporting good mixed bag catches of fish. The water around the corner north of Cape Hatteras is still very cool. Sea mullet (whiting) have been the most prominent fish in the pier catches. While the mullet will bite during the daytime, fishing at night, using fresh shrimp, has been the most productive. The rest of the pier catch includes puffers, bluefish, gray trout, some small sharks, and the occasional keeper flounder.
A few false albacore and Atlantic bonito have been caught by the pluggers at the end of the piers. They are biting well a few miles offshore. Look for the feeding seagulls to find them. The 390/390 and Jim Caudle Reef have been hot off Ocean Isle and Little River, the Liberty Ship off Wrightsville, and AR 315 and along Shackleford Banks off Morehead City.
The most unusual catch of this week was the Atlantic torpedo ray (electric ray) that Troy Lee, of Pikeville, caught at Bogue Inlet Pier.
The super hot tuna bite has cooled somewhat. The tuna fishing has been hot from Hatteras north, but has become somewhat scattered off the central and southern NC coast. There were some good catches, but is was very hit and miss. King mackerel showed up in many offshore catches as did wahoo and dolphin.
The king mackerel bite picked up again this week. They are still holding just a little inshore of the Gulf Stream influenced waters. Several prime locations are just east of Frying Pan Tower off Southport and Carolina Beach, around 14 Buoy off Morehead City, and around the wrecks just off Diamond Shoals at Hatteras.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver