We finally had a run of weather when the wind wasn't blowing so doggedly and both fish and fishermen responded. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that trend will continue for this weekend. By about the time this hits the news stands, the winds are forecast to start puffing up. We'll probably get through Friday, but Saturday looks to be gusty, with the calm not returning again until next week.
If there is a good thing, it is the warm weather. It would be nice if the water temperature would respond accordingly. While some folks are finding it a few degrees warmer back in the creeks, Bogue Inlet Pier is only reporting 63 degrees in the surf. Perhaps that will begin rising again after all the sunny days. Friday is the first of May and the water should be a little warmer than it is.
Some of the best fishing news is the sea mullet bite continues to be good in the Morehead City Turning Basin and along the channel out to Beaufort Inlet. Some of the reports are nice sea mullet too, with many heavier than a pound.
More gray trout are arriving in the turning basin too. They aren't as big on average, but catching a limit hasn't been very difficult. Black drum, bluefish and a bunch of small to medium size croakers are biting there too. The all-time best bait for sea mullet is speck rigs tipped with a small piece of "fresh as possible" shrimp. This setup will also catch gray trout and much more, but some fishermen prefer Stingsilvers for grays. Many fishermen are enjoying good luck using the synthetic Fishbites, Blurp and Gulp strips to tip their speck rigs.
Speckled trout and puppy drum are biting pretty well in the marshes and creeks. There have been decent to really good reports of both, plus some flounder. Some good reports have also come from the creeks off the Neuse River from South Creek up to New Bern.
Pier fishing is pretty good right now. Fishermen on most piers have been enjoying excellent catches of sea mullet. The first Spanish mackerel was caught last Sunday at Bogue Inlet Pier and the action has been hot since. They are already reporting limits of 15 Spanish being filled. Bluefish, black drum, pompano, red drum and more are also being caught from the piers. As always, the hot lures for Spanish and bluefish are Got-Cha jigs with gold hooks.
There has been a hot bonito bite at Divers Rock this week. Divers Rock is just a few miles out New River Inlet at Sneads Ferry. Maybe the bonito will be moving closer to the beach as the water continues to warm. Some Bonito have also been caught at the Liberty Ship (AR 370) off Wrightsville Beach. Small spoons and jigs have been the hot lures for bonito.
With the word out about the Spanish mackerel being caught from Brunswick County to Bogue Inlet Pier, boat fishermen should be getting out in force and we should see the reports of good catches increase. Clarkspoons in size 0 and 00, in a variety of colors are a local favorite lure for trolling for Spanish.
As the water warms the kings are moving inshore a little. They are following the bait fish and could be within sight of the beach in a few more weeks. The kings haven't been choosy and have been hitting just about everything, from Drone spoons to those small spring live baits.
Offshore bottom fishing continues to be good. The catches range from black sea bass, to grunts, snapper and grouper.
With the wind subsiding for a few days, more fishermen have headed offshore and the catch has improved. The offshore trolling catches have included wahoo and blackfin tuna, plus good numbers of gaffer dolphin and even some yellowfin tuna. Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be a good weekend to be making the trip in a small boat.
In the last week I was fortunate to have been invited to fish a couple of days in the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast. We stayed on a "mother ship" and fished from skiffs the "mother ships" carried out. It was a little windy there too, but we were protected by the islands and I had a great time.
I caught grand slams of trout, puppy drum and flounder on two of the three outings and really had a ball. My heaviest flounder weighed 4.8 pounds and I caught it on a 27MR MirrOlure. This is a slightly larger version of the 17MR MirrOlure I caught a local flounder on a few weeks ago. These are suspending lures, that only sink about a foot and I think I might start intentionally flounder fishing with them.
The largest redfish I caught was 35.5 inches and the trout only a couple of pounds. One outing we happened upon a bar that was loaded with drum and caught them until we were tired. On the way back to the "mother ship", we ran through a cut where trout were ambushing shrimp, so we stopped and caught them for a while also. In this area they have speckled trout and white trout. White trout look just about like speckled trout, except they don't have spots.
The fishing was very impressive. My trip was on the Beachwater, with Capt. Dean Gladney, cook/mate Jarrett Baker and deckhand/mate Craig Brumfield. They are based from Biloxi, Mississippi, but travel the approximately 40 miles to Louisiana to fish. The website for the Beachwater is www.chandeleurfishing.com and it tells a lot about what they do. Craig Brumfield is also a talented artist who specializes in animals and fish in natural scenes. His work is displayed on his website at www.craigbrumfield.com.
Surf fishermen headed to the Outer Banks should be aware the National Park Service began closing areas of the Cape Hatteras beach on April 14. All access to the point at Cape Hatteras has been closed. There is federal legislation working through congress to (hopefully) clear this up, but in the meantime folks should contact their congressmen and make their concerns known and heard.
The Rebel Pier King Tournament is scheduled for this weekend at Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. They have already reported some big bluefish catches at Ocean Crest Pier and have expectations the kings will show up. The Oak Island piers usually have a hot king run in late April or early May and last year that bite was this weekend. For more information visit www.oceancrestpier.net or call 910-278-6674.
This weekend (May 2 and 3), the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department will hold their annual Women Anglers in Training (WAIT), ladies-only fishing school. The ladies will receive a day of instruction on Saturday, followed by on-the-water experience on Sunday. For more information call the Oak Island Recreation Department at 910-278-4747.
The Greenville Recreation and Parks Department will be presenting a two-night seminar on inshore and offshore saltwater fishing on May 12 and 13 at River Park North. The speakers for the seminars are Capt. Jimmy Price and myself. Jimmy will handle the inshore species, while I get the ocean species. The sessions are sponsored by Sea Striker, Star Rods and Overton's. Participants may attend either or both nights and more information is available by calling 252-329-4562 or 910-279-6760. Registration is $40 for both sessions or $25 for either individual session.
The Kure Beach Recreation Commission will be presenting a flounder and king mackerel seminar on Wednesday, May 20 at the Kure Beach Community Center. The speakers for this seminar are also Capt. Jimmy Price and myself. Jimmy will talk about flounder fishing and I will talk about kings. These sessions are also sponsored by Sea Striker and Star Rods, with Island Tackle and Hardware as the local sponsor. Information is available by calling 910-279-6760 and advance registration is at the Kure Beach Town Hall. Registration is $20 in advance and will increase to $25 on the day of the seminar and at the door.