Last week I was excited because we had been having a nice stretch of cool weather and there wasn't a named storm or numbered tropical depression on the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean weather chart. This held true until late Thursday when the Tropical wave off Hispaniola and Puerto Rico became Tropical Storm Kyle. However, as I write this we are being pounded by rain and winds I believe are actually stronger than they were during Tropical Storm Hanna. These are from a strong low with pronounced rotation but no name.
This low pressure area just sort of sprung up this week, but it doesn't have some characteristic the National Hurricane Center requires of a tropical weather system, so they haven't named or numbered it. It's just pounding us with winds that are well into the range of "tropical storm force" and lots of rain. While the southerly facing beaches are doing pretty well, east facing beaches are also being bombarded with big swells. The overwash on Hatteras Island was so bad that Highway 12 was closed during high tide on Wednesday and yesterday.
Our hopes are now that this low pressure system will move out of the area sometime Friday. Once it does, we are forecast to have a few days of sunshine and 5 to 15 knot winds that are basically from the south. The daytime highs should climb back into the mid 80s, but that could change again early next week as another mild low moves through.
Surprisingly enough, the fish have been biting through most of this. At least the ones we can get to, that is. The open ocean fish may be biting, but we just don't know right now. They were biting when this front set down on us last week and all we can do is hope they are still hungry when the ocean calms down a bit.
Lat week I reported the potential new state record tarpon that Malcolm Condie, of Broad Creek, had caught off Sea View Pier in Topsail. I'm happy to report it should be recognized as the new state record at any time. The paperwork has been processed, the picture reviewed and Condie has been interviewed. Congratulations appear to be in order.
After all this, I had a knock on my door Saturday afternoon and opened it to greet a fisherman who said he had something he wanted to show me. Opening up a small cooler, he pulled out a small fish that appeared at first glance to be a mullet, but on closer examination turned into a baby tarpon. The little fellow was perfectly formed, just in miniature dimensions. It was 7 3/8 inches total length. He said he had caught 5 while cast netting for mullet and when he realized what they were and tried to release them, this one didn't make it.
Early Monday morning, I e-mailed a picture and this information to Dr. Louis Daniel, Director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, and asked him to explain it. Daniel said seeing juvenile tarpon in our waters was unusual, but not unheard of and it wasn't because they were spawning here. He said they spawn offshore in the southern Atlantic and Caribbean. However, they have a very long larval stage and are occasionally caught up in currents and carried northward.
Daniel said other fish that have similar spawning habits and their juveniles occasionally show in our waters include, permit, bonefish, snook, and jewfish (Goliath grouper). Unfortunately, few if any survive through our colder winters. The first known adult permit caught in N.C. was caught near Frying Pan Tower in July. Another smaller one was caught just inside Beaufort Inlet at behind Shackleford Banks.
I didn't think much more about this until mid-week, when someone e-mailed me and suggested I go to the Tradewinds Bait & Tackle website and check their fishing report for Tuesday. When I did this, there was a picture of Bobbi Cusumano of Herndon, Va., with a small bonefish she had caught at Ocracoke that day.
I wonder if there is any correlation between our drought and these fish showing up in our waters. The Gulf Stream always flows northward and it will carry whatever gets caught up in it. Once the eddies and rips begin to break up the Gulf Stream, whatever has been carried with it will generally tend to be pushed toward land by our summer winds that are predominantly from the south. However, in the times of drought, there is less outflow from the inlets and it is much easier for the wind to push something through them to the inside waters. Ponder on this a while and I think you'll agree.
Pier fishing is one thing that has remained pretty consistent this week. The best king run I heard about was at Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island. The bite began mid-week last week, was still going on mid-week of this week and one day they caught 13 kings. One fisherman limited out that day.
Wally from the Sheraton Pier called and said the Spanish mackerel and bluefish bit that looked like it was starting last week had gotten even better. He said they were also catching some early false albacore. Closer in to the beach there was a mixture of bottom feeders, including sea mullet, pompano, drum and a few trout.
Inside the inlets, the fishing is a little better also, but staying in sheltered water has been a must. Shrimp pieces on double-drop bottom rigs are catching croakers and pigfish in the turning basin. There are also some flounder along the State Port wall and the shelf at the edge of the ship channel and turning basin. Many are shorts, but enough keepers are there to keep your attention.
Farther back in the creeks the speckled trout and red drum had been biting well before this blow. Many of the creeks had baitfish in them, but when you saw baitfish showering, it was time to stop and fish. The Haystacks is a well-known place in the Morehead City area, with the Newport River and Core Creek being even more protected
Captains Jeff Cronk and Mike Taylor of the Swansboro-based N.C. Charter Fishing Team won the final event in the Redfish Action Challenge Series from Harkers Island on Saturday. By winning the tournament they scored just enough points to claim the series title also.
Cronk and Taylor said there had been several huge schools of drum in the surf along Bear Island prior to this weather. They moved back inside Bogue Inlet and found a big school of upper slot reds to catch their tournament winners.
A coastal kayak angling workshop will be held Saturday, Sept. 27, from 10:00A.M. to 12:00 P.M., at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST) in Morehead City. The event is sponsored by North Carolina Sea Grant and is free. For more information contact Brian Efland at 252-222-6314.
National Fishing and Hunting Day is September 27 and it will be celebrated across N.C. at the Wildlife Resources Commission Outdoor Education Centers. National Hunting and Fishing Day, formalized by Congress in 1971, was created to celebrate the conservation achievements of hunters and anglers that benefit all who appreciate wildlife and the outdoors.
All four of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's education centers will host and participate in National Hunting and Fishing Day events:
* John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville will hold a wildlife expo for youth. For more information, call Kris Smith at (910) 868-5003.
* Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education in Raleigh will also hold a wildlife expo. For more information, call Beth Gunn at (919) 707-0205.
* Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla will be a part of a Ducks Unlimited Greenwings youth event at Mackay Island Wildlife Refuge. For more information, call Sharon Meade at (252) 453-0221 ext. 8.
* Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education near Brevard will hold a fly-fishing seminar, demonstrations and falconry exhibit. For more information, call Emilie Johnson at (828) 877-4423.
For more information on N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission wildlife and fishing education centers, hunter education programs and what it takes to become a North Carolina sportsman, go to www.ncwildlife.org. For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day, visit www.nhfday.org.
The DIFF (Davis Island Fishing Foundation) Surf Fishing Tournament will be held September 25 to 27 at Cape Lookout National Seashore. For more information, visit www.diffclub.com or call 336-751-5135.
This weekend the Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament will be held in Swansboro. For more information, visit www.obokmt.us or call 910-326-2392.