The remains of Hurricane Jeanne passed inland yesterday, after threatening us, then taking a left turn and slamming Florida again. This storm had been around for over two weeks as it moved up from Africa, turned towards open water between the Bahamas and Bermuda, before making a complete circle to head back towards the US mainland.
There is something special, but not good, about this hurricane season with the number of storms and their unusual behavior. The most unusual has been Hurricane Ivan, which struck the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast, ran up the east coast, then circled back over 2,000 miles to hit Louisiana and Texas as a tropical storm.
As I am sure it is with you, my thoughts and prayers go out to those folks who have had their lives devastated by these storms.
The current forecast has our weather beginning an upswing today through the weekend and more. Right now, the forecast has the winds back to southerly and light by the weekend. After the weekend, we will see some more fall weather, with cooler temperatures, northerly breezes, and hopefully no hurricanes developing.
Our fishing has shone improvements over the past several weeks and, in spite of the approaching storm, that continued again this past weekend and into the early week.
The spot catches have been good and getting better for a couple of weeks and this weekend was no exception. Several piers had near-capacity crowds and most agree the best part of the run hasn't arrived yet. When the tackle shops report shortages of bloodworms the spots are biting and it's happening already.
Pier fishermen continue to have some good flounder catches also. Other species that are being caught from the piers include Spanish, blues, trout, pompano, red and black drum, sea mullet, gray trout, and speckled trout.
The flounder bite has also been good in both inside and nearshore ocean waters. The ocean fishermen have had to wait for breaks in the weather to get out, but haven't been disappointed when they did. There are pretty good numbers of flounder and a fair number of large ones in the mix.
Gray trout have been showing up at many locations along the coast. The hook at Cape Lookout and Johns Creek off Wrightsville Beach have been two good ocean spots. In the Morehead City area, the high-rise bridges, Harkers Island Bridge, and the Turning Basin have also been producing well. I haven't gotten a report yet, but they should be somewhere on the WOFES also. Some early speckled trout are showing up in the marshes and local honey holes all along the coast.
I've got good news for you king mackerel fishermen too. The numbers of kings being caught from the piers is increasing and they are also moving into many of the favorite fall nearshore spots. Several of these include the Dead Tree Hole, the Morehead City and Southport Ship Channels, AR 315, and AR 425. In some of the spots the water is dirty, but the fish are still there.
As has been the case for a while, the offshore bite has been good when the weather cooperates. There are lots of dolphin, some tuna, wahoo, and billfish.
Congratulations to this past weekend's tournament winners. The Tide Line, with Capt. Dieter Cardwell won the Helping Out Our Kids (HOOK) King Tournament, the Miss Mercy, with Capt. Walter Geise won the Onslow Bay King Mackerel Tournament, and John Andrews and Clint Meyer, fishing with Capt. Fisher Culbreth, won the Cape Fear Red-Trout Tournament
This weekend's tournaments are the US Open King Mackerel Tournament (910-457-5787) at Southport and the Seagull Bait and Tackle Fall Surf Tournament (910-458-7135) at Carolina Beach.
A boating accident during the Hook Tournament last weekend injured one fisherman and cost another his life. While running to the weigh in, Scooter Aman, of Oak Island, and Barry Greer, of Southport, hit a wave badly and were thrown from Aman's boat. The Coast Guard and Oak Island Rescue units responded immediately and found Aman, who they airlifted to the hospital. Greer was not found until his body was recovered early Tuesday morning. Aman has returned home and is recovering. My thoughts and prayers are with the Greer family.
It is the occurrences like above that remind us that while the ocean provides us with many wonderful opportunities, it can be hard and unforgiving of even the smallest misjudgment. Please exercise caution while fishing and enjoying other water sports.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver