This looks like a good weekend coming up. The forecast is for mostly sunny, with a chance of scattered thunderstorms, but that is pretty much always the forecast once our weather gets this hot and humid. It looks like the wind might cooperate also and stay under 15 knots, with much of the time at less than 10.
Tropical Storm/Depression Alberto passed last week and flooded many inland areas. Some places, such as Crabtree Mall in Raleigh were hit hard again. There were reports of up to three feet of water in some businesses. I really hate it for those folks.
While we escaped most of the storm itself, the runoff water from those heavy rains across the Piedmont are making their way down the rivers now. There are places in the Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers that look far more like coffee than a river. Hopefully it will clear out in a few more days.
The offshore fishing continues to be good. More dolphin are arriving almost daily and they are following bait pods really close to the beaches. Many reports are coming in of dolphin as close as WR 13, Christmas Rock, the Dredge Wreck, the Shark Hole and the Jungle.
The most unusual report was of a small dolphin hooked, but not landed, on a Got-Cha jig from Bogue Inlet Pier. Several old-timers said they remembered it happening in the past, but they were sure it had been at least 25 years.
The reports on cobia are slowing, but there are still a few around. The king mackerel fishermen are catching them and there have been a few around the inlets all along the state.
The 116.5 pound cobia caught by Billy Ray Lucas, of Wilson on June 11 was officially recognized as the new state record on June 20. Lucas was fishing with Capt. Troy Crane on the Marauder, near Salvo. The catch was also submitted to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) as a potential 50 pound class line record.
Another cobia report had a fish in the low 90's caught by a surf fisherman at Cape Hatteras.
Good Spanish mackerel catches continue to be reported all along the coast. Some of the better catches have been around Cape Lookout and out the shoals to where the West Slough Buoy used to be. The hot setup has been 0 and 00 size Clarkspoons, behind small planers or trolling sinkers.
Some small king mackerel have been caught in this same area. Be careful not to put a (or several) small kings in your cooler as Spanish. The kings have a limit of 3 per person and a minimum size of 24 inches fork length (tip of nose to middle of fork in tail), while the limit on Spanish is 15, with a minimum size of 12 inches fork length.
There are several differences in these fish, but the easiest to see is the black spot all Spanish have on the leading edge of their forward dorsal fin. A king's dorsal fin is all gray.
The pier fishing has slowed some as the water continues to warm, but the pier fishermen continue to see a fair mixed catch.
Early and late in the day, the Spanish mackerel bite has been good on Got-Cha jigs with gold hooks. Bluefish will sometimes bite during the heat of the day. The flounder bite has picked up a little and only about 1/3 of the catch is too short to keep. The flounder limits are 14 inches tail length (tip of nose to tip of tail) and 8 fish per person. Other fish being caught from the piers include speckled trout, croakers, drum (red and black), small sharks, and pompano.
A few kings were landed at the southern piers again last week, but the Bogue Banks pier fishermen are still looking for the first Crystal Coast king of the year. The water temperature is approaching 80 and more bait is arriving almost daily. The wait could soon be over.
The flounder catch is the fastest improving fishing all along the state. There have been some nice flounder caught almost everywhere. The hotspot has been around Snows Cut, Carolina Beach and in the lower Cape Fear River. I have already heard of several fish on the heavy side of 10 pounds.
The nearshore ocean flounder bite is pretty hot right now. The nearshore artificial reefs have been holding lots of flounder and so have some of the rock outcroppings out just beyond the ends of the piers.
The red drum bite is going strong. They are hitting numerous soft artificial baits and natural baits, dead or alive. They are also hitting topwater lures well. It is something special to see a big red roll up and over to slam a surface lure. Most of the marsh areas with flats and nearby channels or sloughs are holding some drum.
Congratulations to the Chainlink crew for winning the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. They hooked up early Saturday morning and didn't boat their blue marlin until over an hour and a half after the "Lines out" call. Their 7.5 hour battle was worth approximately $100,000 per hour.
The Hatteras Blue Marlin Club Release Tournament (252-986-2454) is fishing now and the Jolly Mon King Classic (910-575-3474, www.oifishingcenter.com) will be held this weekend.