No one should disagree this hasn't been the prettiest week this spring. The nastiness began with the front and storms that raced across the Southeast last Saturday, continued with another barrage and falling temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday and looks now to have another round coming on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
The rain is only uncomfortable. The lightning, occasional hail and strong winds are the damage makers. I was on the docks at the Capt. Stacy Fishing Center last Sunday morning helping repair several outrigger stays that popped during the bad weather on Saturday. I also heard of several boats with other damage including losing air conditioner units, broken windows and more.
Fishing conditions aren't shaping up to be very good for this weekend either. The temperatures will be cooler, which isn't all that bad, but there is wind and rain involved. Along the northern N.C. coast, the wind is forecast to be northerly and a minimum of 15-20 knots through Monday. The waves are also forecast to build from 4-6 feet on Friday to 6-8 feet Saturday night and Sunday, before falling back to 4-6 feet Monday afternoon. The forecast is slightly better along the southern N.C. coast, but only by about 5 knots of wind and 1-2 feet of waves.
With a little luck, this will be the last of the strong spring fronts and the weather will settle out quickly after it passes early next week.
A bit of excellent news is the water temperature hit 70 degrees Tuesday at Bogue Inlet Pier. 70 degrees is the second threshold for spring fishing and we should see the Spanish mackerel arriving and the kings moving inshore at any time. There have already been a few scattered reports of Spanish, but with the warming water they should arrive in good numbers.
The weather this week wasn't conducive to anyone, but the largest boats heading offshore, so the reports from there are few and far between. While the reports weren't as good as they had been, those boats who ventured offshore found some scattered yellowfin and blackfin tuna, a few wahoo, some kings, and a few dolphin. Once the winds subside a little, these reports should quickly improve.
The offshore schools of kings are breaking up and some of them are moving closer inshore. Several captains said the water was warming well enough the baitfish were moving in and the kings were following them.
I am hearing reports of Atlantic bonito, false albacore and large bluefish much closer to the beaches. Several large bluefish were taken from the ends of the piers. The bonito and fat Alberts aren't quite that close, but have moved to within several miles of the beaches.
The piers are reporting some good mixed action. The biggest catches continue to be sea mullet and many are heavier than a pound. While some mullet are being caught during the daytime, the most consistent bites have been right around dark. After the good catches of sea mullet, the pier catches have been mixed bags. They have included gray trout, speckled trout, spots, big blowfish, red drum, black drum, dogfish, a few flounder and even some early pompano.
The sea mullet have been biting in the Morehead City Turning Basin for several weeks and are still going strong. Some gray trout are also being caught there. The fish are scattered through the No Wake Zone and along the channel out to Fort Macon Coast Guard Station. Fresh shrimp is usually the key for catching sea mullet but several fishermen have reported good success using small pieces of the Fishbites bloodworms.
The warming water has broken up the large inshore schools of puppy and yearling red drum. They are still around, but are scattered through the marshes and coastal creeks.
It may have been caused by the weather keeping many fishermen inshore, but the speckled trout reports picked up a little over the past week. Most of the specks are still smaller fish, but there have been a few larger ones.
The warming water is waking up the flounder. They aren't on fire by any means, but the reports are starting to pick up. The catches are mixed from inside waters, the piers and some of the nearshore ocean rocks and artificial reefs. The inshore flounder are just starting to move around and feed and are still pretty thin. Their ocean cousins have been feeding a little longer and are fattening up.
Congratulations are in order for several N.C. fishermen. The Mister Stanman Fishing Team, led by Capt. Stan Jarusinski of Stella returned from Fort Pierce, Florida this week as the 2005 SKA National Champions in the 23-Foot and Under Class. Other members of the Mister Stanman team include Kevin Hill of Lagrange, Greg Ogle of Pittsboro and Charles McClure of Ocean Isle and Lake Wylie, S.C.
The spring tournament of the 2006 Calcutta Wahoo Challenge Series was last weekend in Morehead City. Congratulations to Captain Glenn Loftin, angler Mike Kohler and the crew of the Frequent Flyer for catching the winning 51.35 pound wahoo.
This weekend the annual Women Anglers In Training (WAIT) fishing school will be held in Oak Island. The event, co-presented by North Carolina Sportsman Magazine and the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department, features a day of classroom instruction on Saturday and a fishing trip on Sunday. For more information call 910-278-4747 or 910-278-4575. There is also information at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.