Welcome back folks. I'm sorry the winter break was so long, but I have been very busy and out of town, so we are a little late getting these updates going this year. The good news is that I have a pretty good report to begin the season. The weather has been a bit iffy so far this spring, but the water has finally warmed and there are good numbers of hungry fish just waiting for your baits.
We must be entering a warming weather pattern as this week's forecast has the temperatures rising and a threat of showers and/or thunderstorms almost every day. That will be a pleasant change from the chilly northeast wind and cold squalls of this past weekend. The water temperatures have been flirting with the low 70's for a while and this could be the week to push them over to stay.
It has been somewhat windy during the spring and it seems like the wind has focused on the weekends. On the plus side, there has been some good fishing during the calm times. We are barely into May and already the water temperature is up into the 70's. The fish are biting from the marshes to the Gulf Stream, so find the time to go.
Some good news for flounder fishermen is that there will not be a ban on recreational ocean flounder fishing this year. The minimum size has been reduced from 15-1/2 inches to 15 inches, with a limit of 8 per person per day. The inshore flounder season has gotten off to a good start all along the coast. There is no number limit on inshore flounder, but there is a dividing line regarding minimum sizes. West of a line that runs from Point of Marsh in Carteret County (35-04.6166 N and 076-27.8000 W) to Bluff Point in Hyde County (35-19.7000 N and 076-09.8500 W) the minimum size is 13 inches, while east of that line the minimum size is 14 inches.
In the surf, along the beaches, from the piers, and in the inlets there is a really good mixture of fish. Sea mullet have been the most prevalent, but bluefish might be edging ahead. There are also bonito, false albacore, gray trout, speckled trout, flounder, red drum, black drum, pompano, spots, croakers, blowfish, and more. The Spanish mackerel have arrived also. The Spanish are nice size fish and their numbers are increasing almost daily.
While the fishing has generally been good, the pier fishing season slammed into overdrive on Thursday, May 1. At approximately 9:30 AM that morning, the king mackerel attacked along the Oak Island piers. Since then, the three oak island piers have accounted for over 20 kings, with Long Beach Pier boasting 7 on Friday. There have been a few cobia mixed in this southern coast bite and a 60 pound cobia was caught from Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle on Sunday. The oddest pier catch of the past week was a pair of stripers, 21 and 11 pounds, that were caught over the weekend, from the Jolly Roger pier on Topsail Island.
While the offshore action continues to be pretty good, there are days of either feast or famine. The catch includes yellowfin tuna, various size dolphin, wahoo, and a few scattered kings. Billfish have been spotted along the entire NC coast, with some already being hooked and released. Hopefully, there will be a good billfish bite for the Hatteras Village Open this weekend. For more information, call 1-800-676-4939.