Hey, we had some really nice, although exceptionally warm, weather from the beginning of July through the festivities of the 4th. Every year I wonder why the crowds don't cause the beaches to sink. I believe this year I have an answer for that question along Bogue Banks. All the extra people weren't actually on the island at one time; they were running around in their boats trying to get a better view of the Tall Ships in the harbor. It was impressive!
It has been very hot for over a week, but a cooling break is moving in as I am writing this. We don't get many northerly breezes during the summer and most are associated with storms. However, this one isn't supposed to be that bad and the cooling relief is very welcome.
After over a week of slight seas and light winds, we will be getting a bit of a blow Thursday night through Saturday. The winds will be northerly and should kick up some seas offshore and maybe along the easterly facing beaches, but along the south beaches the surf and nearshore water should be about as calm and clear as it gets during the summer.
Friday looks like a blowout day, with Saturday being windy early but subsiding during the afternoon. Sunday and Monday should both have winds of less than 10 knots and all will be a little cooler. Let's hope the fish like it as much as we do.
Once again dolphin were the most talked about fish of the week. There weren't any caught from the piers this week, but they were just about everywhere else in the ocean. There were dolphin reports from many places within sight of the high-rise buildings along the beaches.
Farther offshore there have been good reports of billfish, wahoo and more dolphin. The billfish are sailfish, plus blue and white marlin. There were several reports of catching both blue and white marlin around the fourth and one patriotic fisherman wondered aloud if we might start calling something a red marlin so we could have a patriotic slam. My suggestion would be to include a red snapper, red grouper or red drum to the list and call it an All-American (red, white and blue) Slam.
There were a few reports of cobia again this week. Most were nearshore at Cape Lookout or Cape Hatteras. Once they move back out the inlets, most are incidental catches of live bait king mackerel fishermen.
There is good and bad news on king mackerel. First with the bad news--there aren't many larger kings being caught. There have been a few bigger kings, including one from the Morehead City Turning Basin, but there haven't been many larger ones.
The good news is two-fold. Even though there haven't been many big kings yet, there are a lot of smaller ones. Many limits have been taken over the past week from the rocks at Northwest Places, 23 Mile Rock and the Horseshoe. The other good news for kings is the drought from the Carteret County piers has ended. Josh Essick, of Winston-Salem, landed all but the tail of a 22 pounder last Friday from Bogue Inlet Pier and several smaller ones have been caught since.
Many of the kings are small. Don't confuse them as large Spanish. The minimum size and number limits are different (3 kings / 24 inches fork length and 15 Spanish / 12 inches fork length minimum size.
The easiest difference to spot between kings and Spanish is the black spot all Spanish have on the leading edge of their forward dorsal fin. A king's dorsal fin is all gray.
With the hot weather the Spanish have been biting best early in the morning and again fairly well late in the afternoon. Live peanut menhaden or finger mullet are the hot ticket for the larger Spanish. Just outside the inlets, along the tidelines and over the nearshore artificial reefs have been excellent places to catch them.
With the exception of adding a few kings, pier fishing has slowed during these hot days. There is still a big mix of species, just not very many of any particular one. Overall, the better bite has been at night. Spanish mackerel, flounder and bluefish top the pier catches that also include speckled trout, croakers, drum (red and black), small sharks, and pompano.
Flounder fishing is pretty good in both inside waters and the ocean. Inside the inlets, good spots to try are along the edges of deeper channels and around the bars in the inlets. In the ocean, the nearshore artificial reefs have been holding lots of flounder.
Even with the hot water there has been a surprisingly consistent bite of red drum in the marshes and on the flats. The drum will move into flooded areas of the marsh during high tide chasing shrimp and small crabs, then move back to nearby deeper water as the tide falls. In the sounds, some of the best places to try are around the duck blinds. The shoals around the duck blinds hold small fish, shrimp and crabs the drum like to munch on.
A couple of tournaments are on the schedule this weekend and both are in the Wilmington area. The Cape Fear Blue Marlin Classic (910-686-9778) is at Wrightsville Beach and the East Coast Got-Em-On King Classic (910-512-0542) is at Carolina Beach. Due to the higher winds expected Saturday morning, the East Coast Got-Em-On King Classic has announced its participants will have the choice of fishing either Saturday or Sunday.