The weather for the past several weeks has been a study in contrasts. We have had gusty winds, perfectly calm, and now it has been raining for a couple of days. The good news is that as of this morning, the forecast for the upcoming Fourth of July Weekend looks pretty good. They are saying less than 10 knots through sometime Sunday and then just increasing to 10 to 15 knots. The direction is pretty consistent at coming from the west and southwest.

Both the heat and the humidity are well above the comfort zone. This is a serious combination and outdoor excursions should be planned with it in mind. Keeping yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of proper fluids, such as water and sports drinks is a must. Heat prostration or stroke is a definite possibility.

Secondly, these conditions are breeding grounds for severe thunderstorms. When you are on the water, the wind, which can often be gusting to gale force, and the lightning are the biggest dangers. It is wise to keep an eye on the sky and try to avoid any building heavy clouds. The rain is more of a threat on the roads. It usually comes quickly and heavily, causing cars to hydroplane and creating accidents.

While I am discussing safety, I would be remiss if I didn't warn everyone that this week, weekend, and next week will be the time of the heaviest congestion on the water all year. Doing things correctly isn't always enough-Sometimes you have to be very defensive minded and always expect the other boaters to do something foolish.

This past weekend I had the same boat cut wildly in front of me twice, without looking either time. They did it once and I got their attention and passed them. Then they blew through a No-Wake area and cut in front of me again as I caught them the second time. While the first time obviously didn't serve as a wake-up call, I think the second time did. They were still sitting motionless in the water, as I got out of sight.

There is good news for flounder fishermen. In spite of past over harvesting, there is a good group of flounder this year. Flounder fishermen are reporting more and larger flounder. Along the NC coast, the inlets are good places to find flounder and there are hot local places, such as Blair Channel (Ocracoke), The Drain (Harkers Island), The Turning Basin, (Morehead City), Snows Cut (Carolina Beach), the old Quarantine Station, (Southport), and more that consistently give up some nice flatfish. The nearshore artificial reefs and hardbottom areas in the ocean are also good places to catch flounder.

There have been some good reports of speckled trout, especially from the edges of Pamlico Sound and to the north. Red drum and black drum are being caught in inside waters. The marshes around Morehead City and the creeks off the lower Cape Fear River have been good spots for reds.

The piers are reporting mixed catches, including an assortment of bottom fish, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, kings, and a scattering of tarpon.

The offshore catch continues to include lots of dolphin, plus some wahoo and tuna. The dolphin are spread along the entire coast, while the tuna fishing is better from Hatteras north.

There are mixed-size kings along the whole coast, plus a few wandering cobia.

Congratulations to Chris Jones and the crew of the Smooth Transition. They battled some heavy seas on Saturday to catch a 44.42 pound king and win the Greater Wilmington King Mackerel Tournament.

This weekend's tournament is the Jolly Mon King Classic from Ocean Isle Beach. Call 910-575-FISH or visit www.oifishingcenter.com for more information.

Capt. Jerry Dilsaver


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