While it appears we have escaped the brunt of Hurricane Frances, a new threat, Hurricane Ivan. looms unpredictably on the southern horizon. Ivan blew up to category 4 late Sunday, but lost some punch Monday morning. If we are very fortunate, it will just fall apart, but right now it appears headed for landfall somewhere along the already battered US coastline. While we do have our own damages and remaining concerns from those first three storms that all found us, my best wishes go out to those folks in Florida who have now been battered by two major storms is just a couple of weeks.

I don't remember a hurricane season that waited so late to get active and them took off with such a vengeance. This is just another of those things that can be blamed on the early summer that so quickly heated to warmer than usual levels. There is just too much energy stored in the unusually warm water of the tropics.

With all the worries about Hurricane Frances, the Labor Day Weekend crowds along the North Carolina Coast were noticeably smaller than usual. With most of the rain holding off until Monday, those folks who made the trip were treated to a weekend that was much nicer than was originally forecast.

We had a large swell running in the ocean, which made most of the smaller inlets rather treacherous and the offshore wind was pushing up a fair chop once you got out of the lee of the land. On Saturday morning, the white water at Lockwood Folly Inlet was over a half mile offshore. Needless to say, the inlet was totally closed out, with huge waves breaking all the way across it. Close to the beach, especially on the south facing beaches, it looked far calmer than it was and the surfers were having a heyday.

The lingering bad news is the remains of Frances are forecast to move inshore then take a northerly turn and run up the Appalachian Mountains. This turn will keep our winds and seas stirred up and in at least a marginally uncomfortable zone into Friday.

Even with the huge swells, you could easily see the schools of mullets and other baitfish moving steadily southward along the beaches. They were being seriously harassed by bluefish and Spanish mackerel, plus being stalked by flounder from underneath. The reports from the piers were surprisingly good considering the conditions. They reported Spanish, blues, trout, pompano, flounder, sea mullet, spots, and even a few early schools of false albacore. If the waves from the passing storms don't get the bottom too stirred up, this action should continue.

Up until, the swell started building late last week, the flounder bite, both inshore and nearshore, was doing well. It continued pretty well inshore over the weekend, but there weren't any reports from the ocean.

The big drum fishing continued to be hot around the edge of Pamlico Sound almost every evening and some days. The best reports have come from around Cedar and Swan Islands.

Few boats have been offshore over the weekend, but prior to that the offshore catch had been pretty diverse most days. There had been a good billfish bite north of the Big Rock.

The South Brunswick Isles King Classic (910-754-6644) was rescheduled for October 22 and 23. The Allison White Marlin Release Tournament (800-422-3610), was cancelled, but they are planning to reschedule the charity auction that accompanies it.

This weekend is the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament (800 545-3940) in Atlantic Beach. Right now it appears the ocean conditions will calm some and make it a fun tournament to fish. The Hatteras Village Surf fishing Tournament (252-986-2579) should also benefit from improving conditions this weekend.

Capt. Jerry Dilsaver


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