Last week certainly did turn out to be a major contrast in weather. We went from very nice to a hurricane and then back to very nice. Hurricane Isabel struck our coast on Thursday and was another major contrast in itself. Except for those folks very close to the center of the storm, the damage was surprisingly low on the west side of the storm and catastrophic to the north and east. Don't get this wrong, there was considerable damage on the west side, especially in down east Carteret County, but the northeast quadrant of the storm ravaged the Atlantic Coast from Drum Inlet to New Jersey.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered incredible losses and are trying to put things back together. As I write this, there are still thousands of people that are without shelter, electricity, and water. Some have only gotten back into their communities over the weekend and some are still trying. One of the worst of the anxieties after a storm like this is not knowing.
The North Carolina Outer Banks were one of the hardest hit spots. There is devastation from Ocracoke northward. Overwash has damaged Highway 12 in several places, and a wide and deep inlet was cut between Hatteras Village and Frisco. The onrushing water leveled the sand dunes and destroyed millions of dollars of businesses and homes all along the barrier islands.
Even in the southern and central part of the state, where the damages were minimal, there were unknown obstructions washed into the water. Caution is advised as you travel any waterway. As far upriver as Edenton, there was severe damage that washed and blew trees, lumber, and sections of decks and buildings into the water. I remember all the stuff that came floating down the rivers after the hurricanes of the late 1990's. Much of it was extremely difficult to see as it was barely above and even just below the surface.
In the southern to middle part of the coast, the excellent weekend weather allowed many folks to head out fishing. There was a mixed to good dolphin and wahoo bite reported from well offshore. However, it seemed that a difference of just a couple of miles often meant the difference between catching and just fishing.
The king mackerel fishermen had another disappointing weekend. I spoke to fishermen who had fished from just off the beaches out to the edge of the Gulf Stream and the king bite was slow everywhere. They are expecting huge improvements now that Hurricane Isabel has passed.
The grouper bite was definitely on. Many boats reported excellent catches of gags and scamps. There were also some red grouper caught by the boats in deeper water. Closer to the beach, the sea bass bite was pretty hectic too.
Around the inlets, from the piers, and in the surf, the bite was the most consistent. Large Spanish mackerel and some feisty bluefish were waiting for the trollers and pluggers. Several piers reported good catches of flounder, but the best reports were of large spots and sea mullet from the piers.
My phone and E-mail have been very busy with numerous questions and announcements of cancellations and postponements caused by Hurricane Isabel. The North Carolina Sportsman Monthly Seminar Series program scheduled for Wednesday night, Sept. 17 at Chatlee Boat and Marine in Sanford has been rescheduled for Tuesday October 21. The Wrightsville Beach King Mackerel Tournament was also postponed until the weekend of October 30 to November 1. See their web site at www.wbkmt.com for more details.
The HOOK (Helping Out Our Kids) King Mackerel Tournament (910-278-6542) will be held this weekend in Oak Island. The Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament (910-326-2392 or www.captainstanman.com) will be held this weekend in Swansboro.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver