The weatherman missed the forecast and the easterly winds got a little unruly in a few places over the weekend, but for the most part we enjoyed another week of good weather. The wind blew up some on Sunday and was fairly stiff this morning, plus there were the usual scattered thunderstorms, but most of the time the conditions were fishable and the fish cooperated.
The cooler weather, which came in on Friday is forecast to be with us for a while. In fact, there are a few more days this week forecast with some northerly winds. Overall though, the conditions look pretty good into Friday. The winds are supposed to breeze up a little on Friday and it may carry into the weekend.
It's unusual to think of temperatures in the mid-80's as being cooler, but after the days of 90's and nights of high 70's last week, it feels much cooler.
Our offshore fishing continues to be excellent. There are dolphin everywhere, a good number of wahoo, and the tuna bite picked back up over the weekend.
There was a hot billfish bite last week for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Numerous billfish were released and a half dozen blue marlin were brought to the scales. Congratulations to Capt. Josh Ruskey, Gigi Wagoner and the crew of the Size Matters for catching their 529 pound blue marlin to win the tournament.
When the spray finally settled, only 22 pounds separated the top three marlin. Capt. Steve Garrett and the crew of the Gambler were second again at 515.5 pounds, while former winner Capt. Thomas Wood and the crew of the Dancin' Outlaw grabbed third with a 507 pound blue.
The cobia bite is gradually shifting northerly along the coast. It has slowed some along the southern and central coast, but went gangbusters at Cape Hatteras over the weekend. There were numerous catches from the surf at Cape Point and the boats from Hatteras Inlet to the Cape. There were also some good catches around Oregon Inlet.
Fishermen working the piers and surf are still seeing a mixed catch. There are gray trout, speckled trout, flounder, red drum, black drum, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, king mackerel and even a couple of barracuda. Yep, you read that right. The water has warmed very quickly and there were barracuda caught from Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island and Bogue Inlet pier in Emerald Isle.
Many fishermen have been bragging about the inshore red drum bite in the creeks and marshes. Our red drum management plan must be working as the catches have included every size from rats to large pups. There are also some speckled trout and nice black drum being caught.
I got in a hot bite of big Spanish just off the beach at Oak Island on Saturday. They were hitting pogies over 8 inches long. Most of them were really nice. We didn't weigh any, but one went end-to-end in a 100 quart cooler.
The king mackerel are getting larger, but there are still some undersize ones mixed in with the schools of kings and Spanish.
Do not mistake these small kings for Spanish and keep them. The minimum size for kings is 24 inches and the limit is 3. For Spanish it is 12 inches minimum length and a limit of 15. Mackerel are measured from the tip of the nose to the middle of the fork of the tail.
The easiest way to identify large Spanish and small kings is the fingernail-size black spot at the front edge of the leading dorsal fin. If it has one, it is a Spanish. If not, it is a king.
The Hatteras Marlin Club Blue Marlin Release Tournament (252-986-2454) began Monday at Hatteras. The Greater Wilmington King Mackerel Tournament (910-686-5433) is this weekend.