The past week and a half has been some very nice weather and it appears we will be enjoying more of the same at least through the end of this week.
All those consecutive days of hot, sunny weather have the water temperatures climbing back towards the 70 degree mark, which is just a little shy of where they should be at the middle of May. If this weather continues, the water temps should be close to normal very soon.
With the calm weather and absence of excess rain, the inshore waters are clearing and the fishing is getting a little better each day. This has quickly become a time to go catching, not just fishing.
The offshore fishing continues to be the big news this week, even though the tuna bite has slowed off the southern and central coast. With the warming water, which has moved the tuna, we are seeing a lot of nice gaffer dolphin. Other fish in the offshore catch include blackfin tuna, wahoo, king mackerel and some scattered billfish.
As the water continues to warm, some kings and cobia are finding their way to waters along the beaches. Last year, there had already been some kings caught from the piers by this time. The first report of that came last Monday from Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island and it was a small one.
A cobia was fought for a while but not landed at Ocean Crest Pier over the weekend. Cobia have been seen from several piers, but none landed yet.
The boat king fishermen had a good weekend. While most of the action remains 20 to 30 miles offshore, there was a hot bite of snake kings off Atlantic Beach on Sunday. A 30 pounder was caught just offshore of Sunset Beach Pier. Maybe the annual run of kings along the southern beaches is about to start.
Atlantic bonito have been caught off most of the coast this week. They prefer cleaner water and are thicker off Ocean Isle, Wrightsville Beach, Topsail Beach, Atlantic Beach and Ocracoke. The bonito have been responding well to small spoons, small jigs and flies. While they are both small football-shaped cousins of the tuna family, bonito and false albacore are two different fish and you should learn to tell them apart. Bonito are excellent table fare.
More Spanish mackerel have been caught this week. They are being caught on Got-Chas from the piers and on small spoons and feathers by boats trolling close to shore. Gold and silver Clarkspoons are good lures to start with, while red-head and white-body or chartreuse Got-Chas are usually productive jigs.
There are also many hungry bluefish in the same areas, who will grab the same lures as Spanish mackerel.
Another good large drum run started at Cape Hatteras Point Sunday evening and was going strong. There were also biting well at Ocracoke Inlet. They should also be along Portsmouth Island, Core Banks and at Cape Lookout, but I haven't received any reports.
The drum bite in the creeks and marshes remains good and includes everything from rats to big pups.
Sea mullet and gray trout continue biting along much of the coast, Wallace Channel, Cape Lookout, the Morehead City Shipping Channel, John's Creek Rock and the WOFES are all good places to try for them.
I didn't get as many speckled trout reports this week, but I expect part of the reason is many fishermen are taking advantage of the nice weather and heading offshore. They are mainly in the creeks, but also in the surf.
I am getting more and more flounder reports from all along the coast. There have been some decent early bites both inshore and in the ocean. Remember we have some new flounder regulations that require a 14-inch minimum and a limit of 8 in all waters.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver