Depending on where you were along the North Carolina coast and how large your boat was, it was a fair to good weekend out on the ocean waters. As a teaser to lure fishermen in, the sea conditions on Friday were excellent. Then, shortly after dark Friday night, the southwest wind started gaining a little intensity. By Saturday morning, it has fairly brisk, especially from Cape Lookout to the north. Off the southern coast, the day dawned with a stiff breeze that fell out into the middle of the day, before breezing back up again late.
Sunday was breezy all day and that's a good thing. The sea breeze is all that prevented a bunch more locations from posting record high temperatures. While summer is still a few weeks off, this week and weekend is setting up to be breezy, hot, and humid. This combination also brings a chance of showers and thunderstorms every afternoon. The conditions are forecast to be more summer-like through the later week and into the weekend.
The big news, all along the coast, still comes from offshore, although it is getting closer almost every day. Dolphin, or mahi-mahi if you prefer, are numerous, hungry, and thrilling loads of fishermen. No one seems to be able to recall a dolphin bite of this intensity, so early and close to the beach, but no one is complaining either. While there are some smaller dolphin mixed in, the bulk of the catch is gaffers of 10 pounds and larger.
There have been some real horses too, with several big bulls of over 50 pounds reported each week. These fish aren't picky either. They are biting like they are hungry. Any bait that you put over is subject to being unceremoniously slammed. This should last for a while, but I'm not taking any chances and restocked my freezer Saturday.
The dolphin action is hot from the Horseshoe and AR 386 to Frying Pan Tower and offshore on the southern NC coast, from 13 Buoy and Northwest Places to 14 Buoy and The 90 Foot Drop out of the central NC Coast, and well inshore of The Point and The Rockpile along the Outer Banks. There are also some scattered large yellowfin tuna, a few king mackerel, some wahoo, and some hungry billfish mixed in.
With the number of billfish already being caught and even more spotted, it may well be a banner year for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. The Big Rock begins this Saturday, with the Ladies Tournament and then for all on Monday. With the new moon on that Monday night, look for lots of action and possibly a new tournament record or two. For more information on the Big Rock Tournament, visit www.thebigrock.com or call 252-247-3575.
The piers along the NC coast have been seeing some sporadic action. The kings haven't yet returned, but some Spanish mackerel and bluefish are rewarding those jigging near the ends. Down at Oak Island, they continue to catch speckled trout in the mornings and flounder later in the day. Triple S Pier, at Atlantic Beach, had a very good run of late spring spots at the end of last week. Maybe they will return again before fall.
Flounder fishing is going well inside the inlets all along the coast. This is good as the ocean flounder season is closed until July 4, north of New River Inlet. One location that has been producing well is behind Shackleford Banks, between the jetty and Beaufort Inlet. There were also some nice cobia caught in this same area and around Middle Marsh over the weekend.
Smaller red drum are moving well in many coastal marshes and creeks also. I saw a 13 pound sheepshead at the Wildlife Ramp at Southport Saturday afternoon. The lucky fisherman had several smaller ones and a nice black drum. He said the ADM Pier, just upriver from Southport, was the hot spot.
For more in-depth coverage on "how to" and "where to" go fishing along the Carolina coast, check out my articles and more in the North Carolina Sportsman Magazine and visit us on the web at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver