What a great past week we had for fishing. Even the excessive crowds of the July Fourth Weekend couldn't spoil the weather. Sure the temperatures were hot and the crowds over large, but the winds were light and the seas slight and for the most part the fish did bite.
The great weather forecast continues into this week and weekend as well. At this time, the worst wind forecast over the next several days is for 10-15 knots on Thursday. This is a forecast we certainly can deal with easily enough.
There remains that threat of mostly afternoon and evening thunderstorms, but that is a staple during the heat and humidity of our summers. Keep an eye on the sky and when it starts looking like you might get a storm, head in -- or at least away from the approaching clouds.
The National Weather Service has announced Tropical Depression Three in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is not forecast to build into a hurricane. Louisiana and Texas may get some tropical storm winds and rains, but it shouldn't affect us.
Inshore, the red drum bite just keeps getting better. Once you locate a school, they are hitting from the bottom to the surface. They haven't been very picky either, responding to an assortment of grubs, gold spoons and topwater plugs. Anchoring near a drain from a marsh area and fishing the falling tide has been the hot setup.
There are also some speckled trout and nice black drum being caught in inshore waters. In the heat, the specks can get picky, but a live shrimp usually gets their interest. The black drum prefer fresh clams, cutbait or shrimp.
The good cobia bite continues 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. There are also some scattered cobia along the rest of the N.C. coast, but not quite in the numbers of the Outer Banks.
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 elsewhere along the Outer Banks, 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 from Atlantic Beach to Carolina Beach.
Tarpon continue to cruise the piers and excite the fishermen, 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.
The nearshore king bite picked up this week. There was a hot bite along Shackleford Banks and Carolina Beach. This was trying to spread in both directions and should do that this week. Look for kings just off the beach from Little river Inlet to Oregon Inlet.
The offshore fishing continues to be excellent. Dolphin are feeding on just about every weedline from 20 miles or so on out. Once the water starts showing some offshore blue color, the next weedline could be the hot one. A few tuna are 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. There was some excellent early white marlin action off Hatteras over the weekend.
Congratulations to Ricky and Laura Hobbs, on the She's All That for catching a 38.65 pound king to win the Jolly Mon King Classic.
This weekend's tournaments are the Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament (910-686-9778) in Wrightsville Beach, the East Coast Got-Em-On Classic (910-512-0542) in Carolina Beach and the third leg of the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour in Mayport, Fla.