Did anyone notice the difference between Memorial Day Weekend and last weekend? I believe I can sum it up in very few words. They are: Tropical Storm/Tropical Depression Barry. While this storm messed up the fishing last weekend, the rain it brought was sorely needed. While the rain helped alleviate some of our lack of rain woes, it just wasn't enough. Most of us would gladly trade another similar episode for another helping of that rain.
I don't know if anyone else is concerned, but I'm a little worried when we have the second named storm of the Hurricane Season on the first day. Remember when they tried to resist naming Tropical Storm Andrea about a month ago and then had to. I can agree it was a unique occurrence, especially since it moved down the coast from north to south rather than up it. Now Tropical Storm Barry grew out of what some forecasters deemed and inconsequential area of low pressure. I sure hope this isn't a preview of things to come. I would hate to regret spending the hurricane shutter money on a longer vacation.
We are looking at a pretty nice weekend coming up. Earlier in the week, the forecast was for breezy conditions, but it has moderated a little with almost every update. We are looking at some cloudy conditions, with chances of afternoon thunderstorms, but welcome to summer along the N.C. coast. It is always hot and humid, with a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
The best tale I heard this week was an overnight swordfish trip aboard the Second to None, with Capt. Shane Brafford. They caught one, had another on long enough to get it to the surface before pulling the hook and had several other missed strikes. The angler of record was one of Brafford's steady customers known only as Bad Luck Bob.
There continue to be a growing number of sailfish encounters. This week they ranged from offshore of the Big Rock to a little inshore of 14 Buoy. Several fishermen reported their baits being attacked by multiple sailfish at once.
While it had slowed a little and then the leftover winds after Tropical Depression Barry kept many fishermen at the dock, the dolphin bite is still pretty strong. More folks are starting to find some smaller mahis, but gaffers and bulls up into the 50 pound range are still the special of the day. The water has warmed significantly and the numbers of tuna have dropped, but good numbers of wahoo are being caught.
Capt. Mike Webb on the Pelagic Too said the offshore bottom fishing is red hot right now. He is reporting good catches of grouper with snappers, sea bass, grunts and porgies too. Offshore bottom fishermen should be aware that as of June 1, the minimum size for black sea bass caught south of Cape Hatteras was increased to 12 inches.
While a few larger kings are being found at some of the rocks and wrecks in 80 to 100 feet of water, the snake kings have moved much closer to the beaches. Prior to the wind blowing up, they were hitting deep diving Yo-Zuri plugs, Drone spoons, rigged baits and cigar minnows (dead or alive) at many of the artificial reefs and rocks within sight of the beaches.
With the warming water the bottomfish bite has slowed a little from the piers, but there is still a little action. Black drum, pompano and a growing number of flounder are hitting the pier planks. Farther out on the pier, the pluggers were catching some nice Spanish mackerel until the water dirtied up as the storm passed. As the water cleans up, these fish should return. There are also lots of big bluefish.
Several king bites have been reported from the piers south of Topsail, but none to the north. Cobia are swimming around many piers all along the coast, but coaxing one to bite can sometimes be a problem. The fishermen at Bogue Inlet pier hit the right combo again this week and decked another one.
Cobia fishing had been improving, but slowed a little last week. They should pick up again for another week or two, before spreading out for the summer. Just inside Beaufort Inlet and at the hook at Cape Lookout are two good spots to try.
A mixture of old drum and puppy drum have been caught at Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Night has usually produced the better bites. A few flounder and sea mullet, plus some big bluefish are also being caught.
Capt. Dave Dietzler said the red drum and trout have been biting in the marshes and creeks. He said one day the drum are more active and the next day the trout are biting better. He also said the flounder bite is slowly improving.
Numerous fishermen reported good catches of bluefish around most inlets. Did you ever wonder what it would take to land a 20 pound bluefish if he fought 10 times as hard as a 2 pounder?
I was told the sea mullet and gray trout bite in the turning basin has almost ended. There may be another few days of good activity there, but the water has gotten too warm for them to hang around very long. The good news is the flounder fishing is improving. Drift live or strip baits along the edges of the channel for the best results.
Congratulations to the winners from The Carteret County Sportfishing Association Cobia Tournament last weekend. Michael Locklear of Morehead City won the Cobia Division with a 67.92 pounder. Noah Lynk of Beaufort had the largest bluefish at 9.60 pounds and James Williams of Winterville landed the largest Spanish mackerel, with a 6.24 pound catch.
The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament (www.thebigrock.com, 252-247-3575) begins this weekend with the Big Rock Ladies Tournament on Saturday. Fishing in the Big Rock Tournament begins Monday and continues through next Saturday. Daily weigh-ins are at the Big Rock Landing on the Morehead City waterfront.