The weather warmed seriously at the end of last week and the fishing warmed with it. There were a few very widely scattered showers Saturday, but mostly it has been excellent weather since Thursday. Even better, this week's forecast is for temperatures in the high 80's and the wind to blow mostly around 10 knots, occasionally up to 15. If you can break free to go fishing, this might just be the time.
As good as it has been, our fishing is still getting better. There are some great fish stories from late last week and the weekend and they were all triggered by the hot sunny days and warming water. Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle reported the ocean temperature at 73 degrees, Long Beach Pier in Oak Island, has it in the low 70's, and at Sportsman's Pier in Atlantic Beach it was 68.8 degrees.
Last week I reported the king mackerel bite had fired off at the Oak Island Piers. This weekend they held the Rebel Pier King Tournament on Long Beach and Ocean Crest piers in Oak Island and they had 9 kings and 2 cobia. The winning king weighed 19 pounds and 4 ounces and was caught by Brad Gusel. The largest cobia weighed 52 pound and 9 ounces and was caught by Buddy Dowdy. Both of these fish and the second place king were caught from Ocean Crest Pier.
The third place king and the second largest cobia were caught from Long Beach Pier. Brian Lasley caught the 46 and a half pound second place cobia on a Got-Cha plug while trying to catch a bluefish for king bait.
At Hatteras, the 2004 North Carolina Governor's Cup Billfishing Series got off to a great start with the Hatteras Offshore Open. The Sea Spud, with Capt. Pat McCotter, won the event with two blue marlin releases. There were several other blue marlin releases, some white marlin releases, and some great gamefish (tuna, dolphin, and wahoo) catches also.
On the inshore front, the fishing is still very good in the State Port Turning Basin in Morehead City. The great weather of this past weekend and the warming water had more fishermen headed out in the ocean and it was far less crowded than in the past few weeks, but still holding fish. The Turning Basin has been a hot spot for sea mullet (whiting, Va. Mullet), gray trout, and bluefish for a month or more.
Some speckled trout and red drum are being caught in the creeks and marshes. Look for the trout in the deeper areas and the drum on the flats. The flounder catches are increasing in size and number also.
The ocean piers continue to report good catches of sea mullet, spots, and blues. The first Spanish mackerel are being caught from the piers also. The rest of the pier catch includes puffers, gray trout, false albacore, Atlantic bonito, and the occasional keeper flounder.
Over the weekend, the nearshore ocean catches along the NC coast included Spanish mackerel, bonito, and some cobia. Some of the favorite spots are AR 315 off Atlantic Beach, AR 370 off Wrightsville Beach, and AR 425 off Oak Island. Some cobia were caught in the hook at Cape Lookout, but I haven't yet heard of one from behind Shackleford Banks.
In one trip at AR 425 on Saturday, Cheryl Davis, of Greensboro, caught a citation cobia of 82.3 pounds and a citation Spanish mackerel of 7.8 pounds, plus several small kings. Congratulations Cheryl!
The offshore fishing was hot through Friday, but slowed some over the weekend. There are dolphin almost everywhere, but the tuna and wahoo bite temporarily slowed just a little. The tuna did bite very well out of Oregon inlet over the weekend.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver