The weather has been warm and mostly sunny for over a week now. The past few days have been windy but that is clearing out now for at least a few days. The larger boats missed several days, but are back at it again. If we don't have another cold snap, we should about be back to where we should be in both water and air temperatures. The water temperatures are rising and the fishing should continue to improve. There were reports of inshore temperatures at 70 in the last few days and this should make those fish much more active. Remember the closure for ocean-caught flounder extends until May 14. After that the minimum size will be 15-1/2 inches. Whether you agree with the reasoning or not, it isn't worth a $110 ticket.
Inshore fishing has been a bit irregular along the NC coast. There are some reports of gray trout and sea mullet (whiting), which should continue to improve as the water warms. There are some fair numbers of small gray trout at the Morehead City Turning Basin and Wallace Channel at Ocracoke. Unfortunately most are too short to keep. Maybe they will soon get larger. The warmer water is moving the red drum out of the small creeks and into some larger waters. Keep a sharp eye out for spotted tails along marsh edges, oyster bars, and grassy flats.
In the central part of the state, the large speckled trout have slowed down. There have been some scattered smaller trout and puppy drum. Farther to the north, around Manteo and Manns Harbor, there have been enough hungry stripers around to keep fishermen smiling. Favorite spots have been around the bridges. This is catch and release fishing only---don't keep one. Speaking of stripers, the annual run up the Roanoke River is in high gear. The next several weeks in the Weldon area, should produce many fishing days that are the stuff a fisherman's dreams are made of. If you head to Weldon on a weekend, expect long waits in the line for the launching ramp.
Surf and Pier
With the wind blowing from the southwest again, the pier fishing is getting better. Sea mullet (whiting), bluefish, the occasional gray or speckled trout, a few black and red drum, spots, blowfish, sharks, and chinese flounder (skates) are making up the bulk of the catch. The spanish mackerel have arrived. Piers all along the southern and central NC Coast are reporting good catches of 2-4 pound spanish.
Over last weekend there were a small handful of kings caught on the Oak Island Piers. Yaupon Pier, Ocean Crest Pier, and Long Beach Pier all had a king or two. This should improve and the kings move up the coast.
There have been lots of bluefish and scattered sea mullet around most of the inshore artificial reefs for a few weeks. A scattering of gray trout are also around. Some Atlantic bonito are still around from Brunswick County to Ocracoke. Learn to tell these tasty critters from false albacore (little tunny) and you are in for a real treat. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are hitting a variety of trolled spoons and casting lures.
The kings are slowly moving in. They have been caught at some of the early favorite spots as shallow as 65 feet. There also are a few that are moving right to the beach in the southern part of the state. Frying Pan Tower has been a hotspot and continues to produce well. Bottom bouncers also did well with sea bass, grunts, and a few grouper. Similar king and bottomfish bites are happening off Morehead City and Hatteras. The kings are mostly small fish. At the Frantic Atlantic Spring King Classic last weekend there was 1 40 pounder, 2 in the 30's, several in the 20's, and then it dropped quickly into the teens.
Yellowfin tuna are being caught all along the NC Coast. They are mostly 20 to 40 pounders but enough over 60 pounds are around to keep things interesting. Several yellowfins around 100 pounds have been caught off Hatteras. More wahoo, some dolphin, and several billfish have been in the recent offshore mix and their numbers should continue to increase.