As I am writing this, we are a full week into the cleanup after our visit from Hurricane Ophelia. One of the things I keep hearing is people questioning if the damage from this small and weaker storm would have been as great if it had hit directly instead of bumping along the coast? That is a question we will never know the answer to, but many people, especially along the sound side of Bogue Banks, took a beating that was far greater than what we would expect from a category 1 storm.
It will be a while before many folks get back to business as usual, but life is slowly returning to normal in many areas.
While we look at the monster storm, Hurricane Rita, bearing down on Texas and some of Louisiana, our weather has been fantastic. The weekend is shaping up to be pretty good, with winds of less than 15 knots, lots of sunshine and just a little leftover swell from the passing of Hurricane Philippe. A cooling trend is in the forecast for early next week, with the general weather conditions to remain similar. It sounds like our fall fishing weather is about to arrive.
Amazingly enough, many fish started biting again right after Hurricane Ophelia passed. Most of the piers along the NC coast fared well and only sustained minor damage and are open for business. The Sheraton Pier lost several hundred feet at its end and Bogue Inlet Pier had its end damaged from debris knocking out several pilings. With the exception of the Piers at Oak Island, most of the fish are inshore of the end, so it isn't a big problem.
Pier fishermen have been catching a pure smorgasbord this week. There have been speckled trout, red drum, black drum, sea mullet, flounder, pompano, spots, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. The kings fired off early in the week at Ocean Crest and long Beach Piers along Oak Island. While the water is still very dirty in places, a variety of bait is very thick along the ocean beaches from Atlantic beach to Myrtle Beach.
Elsewhere along the coast a few scattered king mackerel have been working their way back towards the beaches this week. Early on, they were out around 80 to 100 feet of water, but have gradually been working their way back in. As thick as the bait is along the beaches, they may be back by the weekend.
Inshore, there haven't been a lot of people taking advantage of the nice weather, but there have been some pretty good reports of flounder, red drum and speckled trout.
Capt. Dave Dietzler said he has been seeing some large pods of shrimp at night in the waters around Morehead City and they are probably what have gotten the inshore fish in a feeding mood.
Offshore there are still some smaller dolphin, an occasional tuna and a few billfish, but the wahoo fishing looks to be really taking off. It usually happens around this time each year and looks to be on target again. Several boats reported catching more than a few wahoo and most were citation size and larger.
Speaking of wahoo, 15-year old Sara Hayward, of Nacodoches, Texas landed a 184 pound wahoo off Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and has three pending world records for her catch. The three records are: All-Tackle, Junior Female and the Women's 50-lb Line Class. A picture is available online at www.northcarolinasportsman.com. This is a huge wahoo and she should be proud.
There are two tournaments this weekend. The Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament (910-326-2392) will be held in Swansboro and the rescheduled South Brunswick Islands King Classic (910-754-6644) will be held in Holden Beach.
The SKA announced this week they were relocating their National Championship Tournament to Ft. Pierce, Florida. I would liked to have seen this moved to N.C., but the last time it was in Ft. Pierce, Bob Black, Richard Denning and I did pretty well. I guess we'll have to go back and try it again.
The Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour announced earlier they would be relocating their final qualifying event to Morehead City and rescheduling it for October 9 to 11. They will follow that with their championship tournament, also in Morehead City, on October 12 to 15.