You can tell we are finally getting to the fall. There have been a few cooler mornings and then there was the small front this week and the next one that is supposed to come through beginning Monday. From the mullets I have already seen streaming out the inlets, this may be the one that kick our fall fishing into high gear.
If our good luck with hurricanes continues to hold as the water cools, we might get by well for the year. Hurricanes Gordon and Helene have turned off and don't pose a threat to us, even though we will see some swells from Helene this weekend.
Our weather doesn't look to be too bad for the weekend. At Cape Lookout the Friday wind is forecast to be east at 10 knots with 4 feet of swell. Saturday the wind should go to the south at 5-10 knots, with a little larger swell and then it will breeze up a little, to around 15 knots, for Sunday and Monday. It is forecast to be just a little stronger at Cape Fear. The bottom line is it looks to be pretty fishy.
The boats got offshore this week and found some hungry fish waiting. There were wahoo scattered from the 90 foot drop out to the Big Rock. Most were smaller fish (Isn't it a bit strange to call 20-40 pound fish small?), but there were a few nice ones mixed in. There were also a few sailfish in this area.
Folks who looked for them found dolphin scattered just about everywhere. Once the wind slacks off a bit and the weed lines re-form, we should have at least one more hurrah with dolphin.
The offshore bottom fishing is going well right now. I was at the dock one day last weekend when Capt. Mike Webb returned with an excellent catch of grouper, beeliners and grunts. He said there were a lot of smaller, but legal, sea bass, but they decided not to keep any with their other good catch.
I managed to hang around and look and sound poor enough to leave with a couple of grouper fillets. They sure were good. Thank you Capt. Mike.
There had been good king mackerel reports throughout the area for several weeks, but they disappeared last weekend. The combined entry of two tournaments only managed to land about 50. Many fishermen are wondering if that was due to the recent influx of fresh water from the rain associated with Tropical Storm Ernesto and the several little rainy lows that have passed in the past few weeks. The water looked pretty good, but there wasn't an abundance of bait.
I was out at the Dead Tree Hole Sunday morning and the bait was coming back. There was a color line moving down the beach and the birds were having a heyday. There were pelicans and several kinds of seagulls. Several times schools of menhaden came up and were popping. The king mackerel bite could go off there at any time.
I was in the ocean Wednesday off Southport and the water is still red from all the rainwater runoff. There was plenty of bait and it was easy to catch. We had some mullets that would scare 3 pounds.
Spanish mackerel have been biting most days. There are the smaller ones that hit Clarkspoons and Got-Cha jigs and also some larger ones that prefer live bait. They have been being caught by the boaters and from the piers.
The spots continue to bite at the piers. They aren't huge, but bite well when they move by. At Sportsman's Pier they have usually been biting better at night. Other pier catches include pompano, bluefish, flounder, red drum, black drum, croakers, and trout.
The inshore fishing continues to be very good. There are flounder along the edges of many channels, plus drum and speckled trout in the marshes. There have also been a few gray trout around the bridges and in the turning basin.
The large drum in Pamlico Sound are still biting. This is an exceptional fishery and as close as you can come to guaranteed catching (and releasing) a citation size red drum. They usually start feeding in the late afternoon and continue into the night.
The Gregory Poole Strike It Rich King Mackerel Tournament and the final Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series tournament of the N.C. Division were held last weekend from Beaufort and Atlantic Beach. Congratulations are in order for Matt Gay and the Southern Bale crew, who caught a 36 pound king to claim the $50,000 prize in the winner-take-all Strike It Rich tournament and to Randall and George Edens on the Team East Coast Sports for catching a 42 pound king to win the $30,000 first prize in the FLW tournament.
While the Edens caught their fish on a menhaden, the Southern Bale king was caught using a small dolphin as bait. The story is that both winning kings were caught at 1700 Rock. I bet a lot of the FLW boats will be making the run to there from Southport this week.
This weekend there will again be two king mackerel tournaments. The Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament (www.obokmt.us or 910-326-2392) will be in Swansboro, while the final 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour event (www.flwoutdoors.com or 270-252-1000) will be in Southport-Oak Island.