Well, as all streaks of good weather have to come to an end, the past two weeks dissolved into cooler weather with rain and wind over the weekend. The good news is while the wind blew and the temperatures fluctuated for several days continuing into early this week, it is forecast to begin laying out later in the week and appears we are shaping up for a great Memorial Day Weekend.
Oh yes, Memorial Day Weekend--The official start of the summer tourist season, even though summer doesn't arrive for a few more weeks. Folks who live along the coast and those headed that way should be sure their air conditioners are working. This is the first big weekend of the season and there will be plenty of traffic snafu's to test our patience. With good air conditioners, perhaps we can avoid getting hot under the collar about things we can't control.
There will also be big crowds on the water, so be on your best behavior there also. Everyone just wants to have a good time, so remember that good old fashioned courtesy we learned as kids. It will go a long way to making this a good weekend for everyone. A major dose of common sense is also a big plus during crowded condition on the water and at the ramps.
The big news from inshore and close to the beaches this week is cobia. The water has finally warmed to the point they have moved in. There have been good catches off Southport and sightings along the beaches all the way to Hatteras. A few catches behind Shackleford Banks at Morehead City and in Blair Channel at Ocracoke have the inside fishermen primed and ready.
Along the central and northern beaches there has been an excellent pier and surf bite of gray trout. Some folks have referred to it as the best in years. They are also inside the inlets in the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry Channel, Wallace Channel and the Morehead City Turning Basin. Speck rigs, Stingsilvers and the new Sea Striker Jig Fish are all catching the grays well.
Sea mullet (whiting, Virginia mullet) are biting in the same areas as the gray trout, with the best catches right around dark. For these guys, I like to tip my jig with a small piece of fresh shrimp or about half of a shrimp flavored Fishbites Fish'n Strip.
Smaller bluefish are rampant all along the coast with a good run of spring Hatteras blues at the ends of the piers.
There was another run of large drum in the surf from Portsmouth Island to Cape Hatteras over the weekend and into the early week. The stronger southwest winds seemed to really turn them on. The drum bite in the creeks and marshes remains good and includes everything from rats to big pups.
Spanish mackerel were biting well again this week. They are being caught by casting Got-Cha's and trolling small spoons and feathers. Gold and silver Clarkspoons are good trolling lures, while red-head and white-body or chartreuse Got-Cha's are usually productive jigs.
Atlantic bonito are also roaming the coast in small compact schools. They like many of the same lures that entice Spanish Mackerel.
An early run of smaller kings at AR 315 off Atlantic Beach has fishermen pumped. These aren't large kings, with most under 10 pounds, but they are biting well. Some larger kings are being caught off Southport and Hatteras, including a 47 pounder from Yaupon Pier last week. The kings are slowly moving toward the beach in good numbers.
The yellowfin tuna bite has slowed south of Hatteras, but they have been replaced by lots of hungry gaffer dolphin. Other fish in the offshore catch include blackfin tuna, wahoo, king mackerel and some scattered billfish.
Tournaments this weekend include the Swansboro Memorial Day Blue Water and King Mackerel Tournaments (www.SwansboroRotary.com or 910-326-FISH), Far Out Shoot Out (www.oifishingcenter.com or 910-575-3474), Pirates Cove Memorial Weekend Tournament and the Pirates Cove Cobia Tournament (www.fishpiratescove.com or 1-800-422-3610).
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver