This has been a pretty nice fall week. The winds have breezed up a bit in the afternoons, but haven't been too bad. It's a change since last week and lots of fishermen have been enjoying the fishing.
The tropics are firing up strongly, but we have been lucky so far and there isn't anything pointed at us right now. The Gulf States are looking at another Tropical Depression that hasn't grown to being named yet and maybe won't. Tropical Storm Karen has formed out in the Atlantic, but the current course will take it east of Bermuda later next week. Hopefully it stays with that northeasterly fade and doesn't turn back to the northwest.
Friday looks to be a pretty good day for fishing, but Saturday is forecast to be a bit windier. It will probably be good in the larger boats, but not a good day for a smaller boat to head offshore. The winds will subside again for Sunday and those who can fish on Monday should find it to be even nicer. The highs for Saturday and Sunday are shown as the high 70's with 80 on Monday. I believe I'll try to go fishing in the lighter winds and barely 80 temperature on Monday.
One of last week's reports was that bluefish are everywhere and it hasn't changed. It might even have gotten better and it was already really good. These are nice blues too. Most are around 2 pounds and some may hit 5 pounds. Whether or not you like bluefish on the table, they are lots of fun to catch and usually put on a show on lighter tackle.
The other incredibly good fishing is for large red drum. I have heard good reports from many fishermen, but Tuesday night I worked a seminar in Greenville with Capt. Ray Massengill of Down East Guide Service and he said double digit catches were common. The hot area is from Cedar Island around through West Bay and up the Neuse River.
More gray trout were caught this week. Many times the grays are under the bluefish and you have to cast away from them and slowly bring it back to get a lure down to them. Look for gray trout under the bridges (especially at night), in the turning basin, Dead Tree Hole, just off the Cape Lookout Jetty and in the hook at Cape Lookout.
Be aware the limits for gray trout will change on Monday, October 1. The minimum size will remain at 12 inches, but the bag limit will reduce from 7 to 6.
Wally from the Sheraton Pier in Atlantic Beach called to say the yellow butterflies were indeed a good sign and the spot catches were increasing at the piers. He said many were nicer spots also. It's really still just a little early for the spot run to peak, but it sure is good to see it getting started well. It will continue improve as we move into October and the water cools.
In addition to the spots, the fishing reports from the piers included pompano, lots of bluefish, gray trout, flounder, Spanish mackerel, a few red and black drum and a few speckled trout.
There were also some spots reported this week in Gallants Channel at Beaufort and at the new pier beside the Radio Island Bridge.
Pier king fishermen should remember the Bogue Inlet Pier King Tournament is coming up on October 1-5. If you haven't registered already, you should hurry and do it before all the slots are taken.
I heard more good reports of speckled trout again this week. Most of the trout are smaller, but this week there were some 3 to 4 pounders in the catch. The trout are holding in the holes of the marshes and coastal creeks. As with last week, the hottest reports are coming from the Haystacks behind Morehead City and the marsh creeks just north of Wrightsville Beach. Live shrimp are deadly baits, but minnows, grubs and MirrOlures are producing also.
Puppy drum are biting well and there were more mentions of yearling drum this week. While puppy drum can be several years old, they are generally considered those red drum under about 27 to 30 inches. The yearling drum are all several years old and are generally considered to be those red drum between 30 and 40 inches.
Drum usually aren't real particular and may be found anywhere there is a concentration of baitfish. Typically the old drum bite better in the late afternoon and early evening, but there have been many good morning flurries in the past week. Yearling and pups are always hungry and often feed all day.
A few more keeper flounder were caught this week, but the flounder bite continues to be exceptionally slow. There are a few spots that have been pretty consistent, but overall it has been a slow year for flounder. The better flounder fishing has been in the ocean at the nearshore artificial reefs and rocks and in the deeper inshore water. The wall at the State Port in Morehead City and the slopes of the outer edges of the Morehead city Turning Basin have been two of the better inshore spots.
The excellent wahoo bite continues offshore. I didn't hear of as many sailfish this week, but more dolphin were caught. Two of the hottest areas for wahoo have been in the general area between the 90 Foot Drop and the Big Rock off Cape lookout and the area between the Steeples and the Same Ole off Cape Fear. I heard of a few blackfin and yellowfin tuna being caught in these spots also. That is good news and the tuna bite should improve over the next 6 weeks, but right now it is better from Cape Hatteras to the north.
There was a good run of kings over the weekend and early this week. The largest were caught east of Cape Lookout, but more teenager kings are moving back towards the beaches and inlets, especially off Oak Island. I got a king report from Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island and while they didn't land any kings during the weekend tournament, they caught several the day before and more have been caught this week.
Schools of mullet minnows so long and thick the look more like a line are moving along the beaches right at the outside of the breakers. The mullet minnows are attracting Spanish mackerel, bluefish, drum, flounder and more into the surf to feed on them. Surf and pier fishermen should be paying close attention to the baitfish moving along the beaches and not cast beyond them.
Sam Cernugel and Brandon Sauls led their crews to wins in the Brunswick County CCA Deep Water -- Shallow Water Rodeo that ended last Saturday. Cernugel and the Coon Dog crew caught a king mackerel that weighed 32.45 pounds while Sauls and the Bone Crusher crew topped the Inshore Division with a combined weight of 22.10 pounds for 1 each speckled trout, flounder and red drum. The Bone Crusher catch included the largest flounder and red drum of the tournament.
The crew of the Got to Go topped the Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament with a 44.15 pound king. At the 2007 Long Bay Artificial Reef Association King Mackerel and Flounder Club Challenge, Capt. Tommy Helms and crew claimed individual honors with a 6.40 pound flounder while leading the Ocean Isle Fishing Club to the club honors in that division. In the King Mackerel Divison, Capt. Phil Brock and crew topped the individual charts with a 18.78 pound king and the Charlotte Offshore Fishing Club retained the club trophy.
This weekend's only tournament is the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour Event at Atlantic Beach. Call 270-252-1000 or visit www.flwoutdoors.com for more information.
I'll be in Raleigh Tuesday night at Lake Wheeler Park doing a fishing seminar. I'll be covering king mackerel fishing and one of the captains from Down East guide Service will cover trout, flounder and drum fishing. Call 910-278-4575 or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com for more details.