While we had a nice week, we will see another of those strange weather systems move through beginning today (Friday) and through the weekend. We had moved out of the cooler weather and even had a few days in the 80's this week and now the wind will be switching back to northerly directions and the daytime high temperatures are forecast to drop back into the low 70's through at least Monday.
There is also some mixed rain in the forecast and we certainly need it. I am not looking toward the possible setback in fishing with this system, but if it brings a good soaking rain I won't complain. Unfortunately, it will probably be just enough precipitation to make us question going fishing and dampen our spirits.
Depending on exactly where you are and the size of your boat, the northerly winds may be enough to keep you at the dock Friday and Saturday. The forecast is for 15-20 knots except for below Surf City. However, we never know exactly where the boundaries may stall, so it could be better--or worse--at any given location. Sunday looks a little better, with forecasts of 10-15 knots everywhere and then dropping to below 10 knots on Monday, when most of us return to work.
I had two invites to fish last Monday and partook of the earlier one to go Bonito fishing off Wrightsville Beach with Capt. Matt Wirt of Reel Adventure Charters. We caught several bonito and a few nice Spanish mackerel. While it ended the fishing, the real treat of the trip was when a school of bluefin tuna busted through the area and broke up the schools of bonito and Spanish. They are quite impressive when they are feeding.
My other invite was to go tuna fishing aboard the Run Off with Capt. Brian Harrington as a guest of Scott Davenport. This was a make up of an earlier trip that was weather delayed and I had prior obligations and couldn't go. They really busted the yellowfins. Scott called and said there were several times they had six fish on and could have used an extra winder. Maybe he'll share a few loins with me anyway.
The tuna bite was good off Cape Lookout and continued into the week. The tuna were slightly north of the Big Rock and some nice gaffer dolphin were just south of it. Some nice wahoo were spread throughout the area. Maybe I can make the next trip.
The king mackerel have been moving closer to the beaches and there were several good bites. Early in the week there were some reports of school kings and some of the rocks and artificial reefs about 10 miles offshore.
On Wednesday the king bite moved into high gear, with a blitz at Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island. The first king was a 30 pounder and then another half-dozen smaller ones joined it on the pier deck before the day ended. A 64 pound cobia also fell victim to the Ocean Crest fishermen. The end of the pier was crowded Thursday, but I hadn't received another report when writing this.
When you can get there, the offshore bottom fishing has been very good to excellent. For most folks, grouper is the favorite target, but the limits usually have them fishing for something else to finish the day. Other than grouper, the catches have included beeliners, black sea bass, red snapper, pinkies (red porgy), porgies, triggerfish, tilefish and a few hog snapper.
There were a few more reports of Atlantic bonito and Spanish mackerel this week. The bonito have been reported from Wrightsville Beach to Ocracoke, so the bite must be in full swing. There are some smaller Spanish mackerel near the pier ends and some larger schools of slightly larger ones mixed with the bonito. A variety of smaller jigs, either cast or trolled, have been working for both.
There were more good reports of flounder from the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs this week. Some are being caught on mud minnows, but those with mullet minnows have generally been catching a few more.
The surf fishing has been moderately good along most of the southern N.C. coast, and then better from Cape Lookout to the north. I haven't heard of a run of large drum at Cape Lookout yet, but there was a good run Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Cape Hatteras. The other big catch from the surf has been bluefish and they are ranging from barely a pound to heavier than 10 pounds.
The general reports from the piers are improving. They are catching a mixture of bottom fish, including blues, sea mullet, blowfish and gray trout. Pluggers near the ends of the piers are catching good numbers of bluefish and the first Spanish mackerel. Other than the lone king run mentioned earlier, the pier-end live bait fishermen are catching mainly large bluefish.
There are still good numbers of speckled trout and red drum working through the marshes and creeks. Both love live baits, but will hit soft plastics also. This week the drum were also chasing top water plugs. More fishermen are catching more flounder in these same waters. The flounder definitely prefer live baits.
The sea mullet bite in the Morehead City Turning Basin remained pretty good again this week. The sizes were mixed but there are enough larger ones to feel you have a good chance to catch some. There were also a few gray trout mixed in with them. Many of the trout are barely legal and require measuring to be sure. Beaufort Inlet is loaded with bluefish to two pounds and, after securing a limit, you can catch and release them until you get tired.
The Rebel King Tournament will be held this weekend from Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. For more information call 910-278-6674 or visit www.oceancrestpier.net.