With a little sideshow of Mother Nature's own fireworks, we made it through the Fourth of July week. As expected, last week was the busiest of the year at NC beaches. For the most part, the weather cooperated, but along the southern coast some evening thunderstorms showed that Mother Nature can still put on a fireworks display to rival any. After a week of Bermuda High conditions, a cold front that backed onto the NC coast triggered the storms and a wind switch just before the weekend. A similar front is forecast for this weekend also. I know it's early in the week, but the initial thought for this weekend is that the front will be a little stronger and stall somewhere between Morehead City and Wilmington.
In a separate event, at least two beachgoers were struck by lightning Saturday afternoon at Carolina Beach. There was not a storm in the immediate area, when the strikes happened. The individuals were treated on the scene and then transported to New Hanover Medical Center for further evaluation. They are recovering well. This incident prompted reminders that lightning strikes can occur miles away from the storm. Some good advice is to seek shelter immediately at the first sign of a thunderstorm.
Another thunderstorm greeted many of the competitors in the Jolly Mon Classic King Mackerel Tournament, held July 5 and 6 at Shallotte Point, but it didn't slow up the fishing. After a very slow start, it appears that the king mackerel are finally making a good showing. Congratulations to Scott Harris and the crew of the Team McKee Craft. Their 43.55 pound king paced the field, which included several fish in the 30's and the balance of the 30 place field in the 20's.
Similar reports of good king mackerel fishing came from the central NC coast also. There were some large kings caught, along with some good numbers of smaller to medium size fish. The king bite has spread from offshore to the beaches, with the best reports coming from rocks, wrecks, and reefs in the 50 to 75 foot deep range. Hopefully this fishing will continue to improve. This weekend's East Coast Got-Em-On Classic King Mackerel Tournament should be a good barometer of whether or not it will continue. For more information on the East Coast Got-Em-On Tournament call 910-458-6729 or visit www.coastalcarolinas.com/got-em-on.
North of New River Inlet, the Recreational Ocean Flounder Season reopened at 12:01 AM on July 4. There might not have been a lot of fanfare, but there were a lot of happy fishermen. In places, there are still a high number of not-quite-legal size flounder in the mix, but at least the speculation has ended. In other places, the reports are that the keeper-size flounder are the majority of the catch.
As a reminder, the size and number limits for ocean caught flounder are different than for those caught in inside waters. In inside waters the minimum size is 13 inches and there is no limit on the number of flounder you can keep. In ocean waters, the minimum size is 15-1/2 inches and the limit is 8 per person per day. Do not take legal size inshore flounder into the ocean to continue fishing unless you have 8 or less and they are all at least 15-1/2 inches long. Then don't exceed the 8 flounder ocean limit. If you want to fish both areas, fish the ocean first and then come back inside. By law, all fish are considered to have been caught in the waters where you possess them and flounder that were legally caught in inside waters may not be legal in ocean waters. This is an expensive ticket-----Don't make the mistake!!
Drum continue to bite pretty well in inshore areas and some inlets along the entire NC coast. There are stripers at New Bern and at Mann's Harbor. The first of the tarpon are arriving in Pamlico Sound and the lower Cape Fear River. Speckled trout catches are scattered, but several nice catches came from Pamlico Sound, behind Hatteras, last week.
Farther off, the dolphin continue to bite pretty well, just not to the blitz proportion of several weeks ago. There are some wahoo mixed in and even a few scattered reports of wahoo taking a few king mackerel baits. Last week there was good billfish action just north of the Big Rock. Even this late into the summer, the Hatteras and Oregon Inlet fleets are catching some nice large yellowfin tuna.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver