Darn it's hot! I'd really go off on the exceptionally hot weather we are having, but I hope I have some younger readers so I'll stay contained. I'm not worried about losing a few points for bad words like the NASCAR guys do, but a $25,000 fine would pretty much wreck my year. Still it's hot--it's real hot and everyone knows so we can delete the expletives.
Seriously folks, the combination of high heat and humidity have been choking this week and notices regarding the excessive heat and the need to stay hydrated have been posted in many places. This is serious business and is a good time to remind everyone of the potential dangers of sun and heat. Shade is a beginning and multiple doses of sunscreen another step in preventing sunburn and it associated problems. Hydration is another thing--and water--lots of it--is the key to preventing dehydration issues. Sports drinks are more flavorful and easier to get folks to drink, but water is the best. Soft drinks and adult beverages feel and taste good going down, but are poor means of staying hydrated.
There are forecasts of some slight relief from the severe heat wave arriving this weekend. It won't get cool or anything like that, but the forecast has a mild cool front that will turn the winds more to the north, drop the temperature a few degrees and lower the humidity. The upper 80's are still plenty warm, but will be a little relief from this week.
Prior to the cool front arriving, we should see some gusty southwesterly winds on Friday. They will begin at around 15-20 knots, and then gust up to around 25 in the late afternoon before the front arrives. Saturday is forecast to have lighter northerly winds of around 5-10 knots that will increase slightly to 10-15 later in the day and hold for Sunday.
I got to put in an inshore trip over the weekend and was very pleasantly surprised with the catch. We were fishing water that varied from 83 to almost 85 degrees. While I usually prefer a falling tide for most inshore fishing, we targeted the rising tide and the influx of slightly cooler water--and it was a good decision. We fished a small creek that runs through a marsh island within sight of the inlet and caught numerous specks, five flounder, some bluefish, an assortment of bait thieves and one overslot red drum. It was a good day at any time and an excellent day for the heat of early August.
I spoke with Capt. George Beckwith of Down East Guide Service earlier this week and he said the tarpon and large red drum were both biting well in the Pamlico Sound and lower Neuse River. He said there was also some very good speckled trout, flounder and puppy drum fishing along the edges of the sound and in the creeks and rivers that flow into it. Typically the tarpon bite is best in the early morning and the large drum bite best from the late afternoon into the evening.
Even with the heat, the good billfish bite continues. Sailfish have been caught from within sight of the beach and numbers of white marlin are working the eddies and rips along the Gulf Stream. There also some blue marlin catches and misses reported almost daily.
Several fishermen said the dolphin bite had slowed some with the heat, but there are still some pretty good catches being reported. A few wander in even closer, but the better action begins at about 60 feet deep and continues out to the Gulf Stream. Most of the dolphin are smaller, but every time you relax, the next one is a good gaffer and really tests your resolve and equipment.
Some good wahoo reports are coming from the general areas of the Atlas Tanker and 14 Buoy. Many of these are hitting live baits intended for king mackerel and give the king mackerel fishermen a stout workout on lighter king tackle.
Speaking of king mackerel, that bite continues to be strong. The kings appear to have arrived east of Cape Lookout a little early and a few large ones are being caught pretty consistently. Don't forget other locations. There are good numbers of small to medium size kings at many spots. Kings are also being caught from the piers.
The reports on Spanish mackerel catches have been varying greatly. The better catches have been generally larger Spanish and many of the successful fishermen have been using live baits rather than trolling lures. Finger mullet and 4-5 inch menhaden have been the preferred baits.
If you see Spanish chasing bait and jumping and don't have live baits, downsize your lures and put them way behind your boat with no trolling weights or planers. Small bucktails, speck rigs and 000 size spoons will sometimes get those Spanish to bite when they ignore all else.
I haven't heard of numerous pier catches this week, but believe it is caused as much by the heat keeping fishermen indoors as the bite slowing. I didn't hear of a pier-caught tarpon this week, but the king numbers keep growing. More keeper flounder were caught also and that should continue to improve. Other fish being caught from the piers include Spanish mackerel, pompano, red drum, black drum and bluefish.
The inshore flounder catches were a little better this week, but there were still a lot of shorts. One fisherman remarked, "The size limit on flounder is 14 inches, but it better be over 14 and a quarter before you put it on ice or you are looking at a ticket if you get caught." Unfortunately, it sounded like the voice of experience.
Some of the better places to catch a flounder have been around bridge pilings, along the edges of the bars in the inlets, along oyster bars, at creek mouths in the marshes and at the nearshore reefs. Every week I see pictures of several nice flounder that were caught along the wall at the Morehead City State Port and AR 315.
As I reported earlier, even the tepid water temperatures haven't stalled the speckled trout fishing. Several fishermen remarked this was a direct carryover from the past several mild winters. If that is so, I hope the winters continue to be mild. I like catching summertime specks. Holes in creek mouths and around oyster bars are great places to find trout. The Haystacks in the Newport River and the thoroughfare in the North River are mentioned often when asking for trout locations.
Puppy drum catches are being reported from well back in the creeks to the surf. They appear to be spread through most marsh and creek systems. I like looking for oyster bars near the mouths of the finger creeks that run up into the marsh. A lot of bait moves through the small creeks and drum often wait in ambush just outside them.
Steven Ford and the crew of the Sic-Em won the Raleigh Saltwater Sportfishing Club King Mackerel Tournament with a 41.8 pound king. The rumor places that fish at East Rock, east of Cape Lookout. The crew of the Sandra Jean topped the field at the Island Harbor KenCraft Boats King Mackerel Tournament with their 30.55 pound king. For the ladies, Kathryn Schoenick, fishing with Capt. Terry Schoenick on the 'Bout Time, topped the 65 boat field at the Long Bay Lady Anglers King Mackerel Tournament with their 28.86 pound king.
The tournaments for this weekend are the Sneads Ferry Rotary Club King Mackerel Tournament (www.sneadsferrykmt.com or 910-327-3953) in Sneads Ferry and the Alice Kelly Ladies Only Memorial Billfish Tournament (www.piratescovetournaments.com or 252-473-1015) in Manteo. The Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament (www.piratescovetournaments.com or 252-473-1015), which is the final event in the 2007 Governor's Cup Billfishing Series, will hold final registration on Monday and begin fishing on Tuesday.