While it looked like the weather could get wicked several times last week and weekend, along the coast we were pretty fortunate and avoided most of the severe weather. There were some periods of rain and a few serious thunderstorms, but we managed to escape the tornadoes spinning off of Tropical Storm Bob. The wind blew pretty steadily from the southwest and kept most of the smaller boats in protected waters, but it wasn't enough to ruin the weekend. With the beaches as crowded as they were from the July 4th crowds, it could have been a miserable week but wasn't. We should consider ourselves lucky.
The winds have continued to be rather strong and limited the open water fishing. The early forecast has the wind subsiding some towards the end of the week and next weekend. The humidity is very high and there is a possibility of thunderstorms every afternoon. Summer is here and this should be the prevailing weather forecast for the next month or so.
With the holiday crowds, the waterways were extremely crowded and a very important fact was driven home---again. At the risk of sounding over protective, I must point out that many of the lesser-experienced boaters and especially many of the drivers on personal watercraft do not pay attention to what is happening around them. This sometimes leads to erratic movements that create dangerous situations for themselves and others around them. As you navigate through crowded waters, please pay very close attention to what is happening all around you and watch out for other boaters.
The heat and muggy weather of summer may have slowed down the fishermen and some of the species, but there is something biting almost everywhere. One of the more popular species is flounder and the flounder fishing is improving all along the coast. Earlier in the year, there were fair numbers of flounder, but many were undersize. In the past few weeks, the numbers of short flounder has decreased significantly and it appears that the numbers of flounder has been on the rise. Some real doormats are being caught in a few areas, but the waters around Carolina Beach and Southport have really been giving up some nice flounder.
Puppy drum are the other hot inshore catch right now. They are holding in the marshes, along the bars in the sounds, and around the drop-offs near the inlets. A selection of lures, especially gold spoons and soft plastics, has been working well. The tarpon are already showing in the Pamlico Sound and lower Neuse River and it is time for the big red drum to show in that same general area.
The pier fishing has slowed to mostly a bottom bite, but there are some periods of excellent fishing. Some spots are scattered along the coast with good catches from the Atlantic Beach piers. The Oak Island pier fishermen continue to have some very good days with speckled trout. The blues seem to be able to find a jerk jigger, but the water has been just a little too muddy for much action from Spanish mackerel. If the water clears all the way to the beach, the Spanish bite should pick back up. They just don't like dirty water.
As the water clears Spanish mackerel are biting pretty well just off the beaches. The king mackerel have ventured in some, but the better king bite is from about 40 to 70 feet of water. Dolphin are the prime offshore catch from Hatteras south, with yellowfin tuna biting well between Cape Hatteras and Oregon Inlet. Some wahoo and a few billfish are also being caught.
Congratulations to Dennis Stark and the Sea Bandit crew for winning the Jolly Mon Classic King Mackerel Tournament this past weekend. Their 35.6 pound king topped the 256 boat field. This weekend's king tournament is the East Coast Got-Em 0n Classic, July 11 to 13, from Carolina Beach. The Governor's Cup Billfish Series resumes with the Cap'n Fannies Billfish Tournament, July 9 to 12, from Atlantic Beach. For more information call 910-458-5482 in Carolina Beach or 252-726-4423 in Atlantic Beach.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver