What a difference a week makes! In last week's report I was singing the praises of the weather and then questioning if Hurricane Fabian might be going to affect our weather. That's history now, isn't it? Hurricane Fabian affected our weather, Tropical Storm/Tropical Depression Henri, which didn't form and get named until late last week, is currently affecting it, and now Hurricane Isabel is moving just a little west of the track followed by Hurricane Fabian. The good news here is it is still over a week away and may turn in any direction, while the bad news is, with its initial westward track, a northward turn, similar to the one taken by Hurricane Fabian, will bring it much closer to us.
The strange weather of this summer continues with the sudden barrage of tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes. Suddenly the hot humid rainy weather of July and early August seems to be an acceptable alternative. As I am writing this, Tropical Depression/Tropical Storm Henri has slowed off our coast. On Wednesday and Thursday, it is forecast to be east of Cape Hatteras and moving offshore.
The NC coastal weather forecast is for northerly to northeasterly winds of up to 30 knots north of Surf City through Wednesday night, then subsiding to 15-20 knots by Friday. South of Surf City the forecast is a little better, with northerly to northeasterly winds of 20 knots through Wednesday evening, before dropping to 10 to 15 knots for Thursday and Friday. It may well be another week that is better for surfers than for fishermen.
While our fishing had been improving for several weeks, the recent run of winds, cooler weather, and severe barometric changes has set it back some. The inshore fish appear to have weathered the changes better and some good catches were reported over the weekend and early this week.
Puppy drum are the mainstay of the inshore fish right now and they have been biting fairly steadily along most of the coast. The big drum bite fired back up in Pamlico Sound last week and once the winds subside, it should get going again.
There were some excellent reports of flounder fishing over the weekend. The numbers weren't quite as good as hoped, but there were some larger fish almost everywhere.
One good thing with the current wind is that it is offshore along the southerly facing beaches. On the days when the storm swell has been large, the water has cleared far more quickly than if the wind were from any other direction. Spanish mackerel have been biting well from the piers out to several miles offshore. There have been some larger fish hitting live baits and lots of 2 to 4 pounders hitting plugs. There have also been some large flounder caught from the ocean piers. A frisky live mullet minnow has been being the best bait.
I can't tell you much about the king mackerel fishing right now. It was going pretty well until last Thursday and then it just stopped. The biggest evidence is that 290 boats in the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament only managed to catch 33 fish during the 2-day tournament. There were 24 kings caught on Friday and 9 kings caught on Saturday. The fishermen were spread from Ocracoke to Ocean Isle. Hopefully this is a weather related situation and after the current batch of storms passes it will get straightened out.
The offshore fishing has been pretty much not happening with the current weather also. When the weather settles, the expectations are for wahoo, dolphin, billfish, and some tuna to be biting.
This weekend, the Mercury Redbone Fishing Trail comes to Wrightsville Beach Marina for the first North Carolina Red*Trout Celebrity Fishing Tournament (1-800-822-9941). Rick Ruoff, "The Fly Guy" on ESPN2, heads the list of celebrity anglers at the event, which raises funds to fight CF. The Hatteras Village Surf Tournament (252-986-2579) will be held September 11 to 13, in Hatteras Village.
Congratulations to Miles Bunn and the crew of the Rod Hog for winning the weather-plagued Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament, last weekend. Their winning king weighed 29.15 pounds. Congratulations also to the crew of the Droppin Back for winning the Alison White Marlin Release Tournament in Manteo.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver