We had another few days of those unusual easterly summer winds last week and over the weekend. While they disrupted the fishing for some fishermen, they didn't get quite as bad or change the fishing as much as had been anticipated.
The weather forecast was for a little worse, and the weather became unruly enough the Greater Wilmington King Mackerel Tournament was postponed until July 29 and 30. The National Weather Service issued a Special Tropical Weather Statement for a circular flowing conglomeration of thunderstorms gathered off the N.C. coast and it could have easily been far worse.
There were some folks who wanted to mouth about this decision on several internet chat boards, but the tournament committee made the right decision. Without going into a lot of details, there is far more to holding a tournament than just allowing those folks who are 10 feet tall and bulletproof to compete for a few dollars.
This week we are welcomed back to sweltering hot temperatures, high humidity and the threat of mostly afternoon showers and thunderstorms. The wind is typical summer also--from the south and light in the mornings, building a seabreeze of 10-15 knots in the afternoon.
The inshore red drum bite has been special. They have gotten very aggressive and are hitting both deep and on top. Everyone needs to experience catching reds on topwater plugs. Their mouth is on the bottom of their head and they have to roll upside down to grab a surface bait. The strike is very impressive.
There are also some speckled trout and nice black drum being caught in inshore waters.
There are cobia along the southern and central coasts, but they are becoming a big part of the nearshore catch along the Outer Banks. Good catches were reported from the surf at Cape Point and just off the beaches from Hatteras Inlet to Oregon Inlet.
Fishermen on the piers and in the surf are still seeing a mixed catch. With the exception of the cobias at Cape Point and a few large drum at Ocracoke, Cape point and Oregon Inlet, the surf catch is a combination of gray trout, speckled trout, flounder, black drum, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano and sea mullet. The pier catch was much the same, plus there was a run of kings along the central coast. Good pier king reports came from Topsail to Atlantic Beach. Bogue Inlet Pier at Emerald Isle was the hot spot with 8 kings landed there.
Some tarpon have been spotted from the piers, but none have been landed yet.
There are still enough undersize king mackerel being caught to continue my weekly warning. 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.
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.
A single African pompano was caught at Frying Pan Tower last week. More of his cousins should be arriving soon.
The offshore fishing continues to be excellent. Dolphin are feeding on just about every weedline from 20 miles or so on out. The 90 Foot Drop off Morehead City has been an excellent destination for many smaller boats. Considering the warm water temperatures, there are a surprising number of tuna still being caught, along with some wahoo.
The billfish bite has been hot for several weeks. There are good numbers of blue marlin, a lot of early white marlin and the sailfish bite is quickly moving inshore with the warm water and bait.
Congratulations to the crew of the Tiger Lady for winning the Hatteras Marlin Club Blue Marlin Release Tournament. They released 2 blue marlin and a sailfish.
This weekend's tournaments are the Jolly Mon King Classic (919-575-3474) in Ocean Isle and the Fourth Of July Offshore Tournament (800-422-3610) in Manteo.