Over the past week, we have made up a little ground on the drought situation along the NC Coast. I have been outside every day, though unfortunately not always fishing, and I have been rained on every day. As I am writing this, our coast is under the influence of two different weather systems. A low pressure trough is holding on over the central and northern NC coast, while a Bermuda High is trying to ridge its way up and over the southern coast. The dividing line on the forecast is Surf City. It is projected to be a little rougher and windier to the north and somewhat nicer to the south. Of course, that could change overnight---just like it did last week!
Over the past week there was more effort at the inshore fishing and the results showed it. Flounder are being caught along the entire coast. Currently it is inside waters only north of New River Inlet, with the ocean waters also being open to the south. At 12:01 AM on July 4 that will change and the ocean waters, along the entire state, will be open for flounder once more. Another ocean water recreational flounder closure is scheduled for late November.
Behind the Outer Banks, fishermen are reporting some good catches of speckled trout and gray trout, along with the flounder. Farther down the coast, the trout catch is pretty slim. There have been some good catches along the edges of the Pamlico Sound, its feeder creeks, and in the ocean off Oak Island. Both Long Beach Pier and Ocean Crest Pier have had pretty consistent early morning catches of speckled trout, but the bite stops as soon as the sun comes up good. The standard catches off the ocean piers include spots, sea mullet, Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, flounder (some legal and some not), and other bottom feeders, plus an occasional cobia, king mackerel, or jack crevalle.
In the marshes, red drum are getting more active every day. They are scouring the flats during high tide looking for easy meals. This week, the full moon high tides have given them access well up into areas full of sandfiddlers, shrimp, and small minnows. Fishing this area requires a weedless lure. The Johnson Silver Minnow spoon in gold is one favorite and several jig heads come in a weedless configuration or are easily modified with a piece of leader wire or rubber band.
While it has been pretty rough, the ocean fishing has been pretty good for several species. Inshore the Spanish mackerel have been biting well. Even with the liberal 15 fish limit, many Spanish mackerel trips are over in just a few hours. Farther offshore, dolphin are the mainstay of the catch.
Even though there are still good numbers offshore, dolphin have moved well inshore along the entire coast. Excellent dolphin catches have been reported from just off the Hatteras and Ocracoke Sea Buoys, Northwest Places and 13 Buoy off Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, AR 362 off Topsail, 10 Mile Rocks and AR 382 off Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches, and the Horseshoe and 15 Mile Rock off the Brunswick County beaches. Finally, the kings are moving back in and becoming more prevalent in the catches from these same areas. The king bite is still a bit sporadic, but seems to be concentrated in 50 to 70 feet of water, with some increasing action along the beaches and around the inlets.
Congratulations to Captain Dean Spatholt and the Fish Meister crew for their win in last weekend's Raleigh Salt Water Sportfishing Club King Mackerel Tournament. They battled some very rough seas, east of Cape Lookout, to catch the 51.95 pounder.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver