What a difference a week makes. Last week as I was writing this we were being pounded by an unnamed storm and Tropical Storm/Hurricane Kyle was forming for its run up the Atlantic to Maine and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. Since then, we have seen Subtropical Storm Laura form and burn out and are now in the middle of the strongest cold front yet this fall.
This morning the temperature on my back deck was 49 degrees. I was definitely chilly when I went out in shorts and a t-shirt to feed my dogs. The weather forecasters are saying we will move back into the mid 50's for lows beginning Saturday and into the low 60's on Sunday, but it has been a wakeup call. The daytime highs will be in the high 70's, so get prepared to enjoy some nice fall weather.
Even better, this cold spell has come without extremely strong winds and the weather is staying clear. The winds gusted to 15-20 knots Thursday, but forecasts have them at 10 knots or less through Saturday afternoon and then only increasing to 10-15 knots through Monday. Needless to say, with the temperatures staying cool, these are northerly winds. However, the forecast is very nice, so make some plans to get out and enjoy it.
With the weather changes of the past couple of weeks, the water temperature has dropped to the mid-70's. That will probably slide a degree or two over the weekend, but it has had a positive effect on the fish so far. The fish are biting.
One of the first places we see fishing get hot or slow is from the piers and it has heated up this week. We have seen some kings come back to the piers, with a couple of nice catches at Bogue Inlet Pier and a hot run at Ocean Crest Pier in Long Beach. Lee Throckmorton, of Emerald Isle had the top catch from Bogue Inlet Pier with a 24 pounder in the middle of the week. This run is starting just right for the Bogue Inlet Pier King Tournament, which will begin Monday, October 6, and run through Friday, October 10. For more details visit the pier's website at www.bogueinletpier.com or call 252-354-2919.
The hot king run from Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island bears mentioning. It began Tuesday with over a dozen kings and kept going Wednesday with 27 more. Several anglers caught their 3-fish limits and several caught citation size kings. This bite has been trying to go off for a while and it could explode like this at any time.
Continuing with kings, the bite began picking up at the Dead Tree Hole off Shackleford Banks, the Rock Barge off Cape Lookout Yaupon Reef off Oak Island and the Cape Fear Ship Channel off Southport. I believe the coordinates for the Rock Barge, which is a barge that sank on its way to Cape Lookout with a load of Rocks for the jetty, are on most charts, but different folks have different locations for the Dead Tree Hole.
The Dead Tree Hole is an area, moreso than a spot. I locate the general vicinity by heading out the Beaufort Inlet Channel to buoys number 7 and 8, then turning toward the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and running down the beach until the Beaufort water tower is directly over my left shoulder. Once in the vicinity, I look for pods of bait to begin fishing.
The king bite should also be improving at the popular spots east of Cape Lookout and Cape Fear.
My reporting of Malcolm Condie's new state record tarpon catch (it was approved as the record early this week) and the small tarpon the fellow caught while castnetting mullets have stirred some interest in these fish. This week I was told of catching a pair of 18-20 inchers in the Pamlico River near Indian Island and one in the White Oak River just upriver from Swansboro.
While this seems to indicate breeding activity in local waters, the fishery biologists assure me it is not. They say offshore ocean currents, primarily the Gulf Stream, bring larval stage tarpon to off the NC coast and when the currents encounter upwellings and other disruptions the predominantly southerly summer breezes carry them to the inlets. Once in the inlets they transform in their juvenile form and begin to grow. Unfortunately they are too small to migrate back south for the winter and few, if any, survive our colder winter water.
As the ocean water continues to clear from our recent, but much needed, abundant rainfall, several fish in the surf zone and just beyond are biting in increasing intensity. The piers also report a mixture of Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pompano, flounder, red drum, black drum, sea mullet, and spots.
Surf anglers are reporting catching more red drum. There are several spots along Shackleford Banks where fishermen anchor boats on the mainland side and hike across to fish. Sometimes they bring the boats around to just outside the surf and cast back in. The surf fishing is also improving from Cape Lookout along Core Banks to Ocracoke. All three Drum Inlets and Ocracoke Inlet have been hotspots.
The Spanish are biting well along Bogue Banks, Shackleford Banks and at Cape Lookout. Limits may be caught at any location, but the Spanish have been larger at Cape Lookout. The hot spot has been where the bottom drops sharply to 30 and 40 feet deep, between the jetty and the cape. Clarkspoons, in size 0 and 1, have been the hot lure.
Offshore the wahoo bite is trying to pick back up where it was before the storms. Good wahoo reports are coming from as close as the 90 Foot Drop. The Triple Terraces and Swansboro Hole areas are also being mentioned frequently. A few of the last of the dolphin and sailfish are also being caught in these areas.
With the water clearing back in the creeks, the drum and trout bite is rebounding strong. The Haystacks, Newport River, North River and Core Creek are all being mentioned. On the other end of Bogue Banks, the marsh areas around Bogue Inlet have been holding a lot of drum and a few trout. The general feeling is that many upper and over slot drum are moving to the surf around the inlets.
Occasional flounder are being caught by drum and trout fishermen, but the best flounder fishing has been along the walls of the State Port and along the edges of the channels in the inlets.
EJW Outdoors in Morehead City is sponsoring a pair of events that should be of interest to area outdoorsmen. The Big King Classic and Big Buck Classic have already begun, but fishermen and hunters may enter at any time. The Big King Classic runs through December 31 and recognizes large kings in fishermen, lady and junior angler categories. The big buck Classic runs through January 1 and recognizes outstanding deer taken by gun, bow and muzzleloader hunters during the eastern deer season. Both events conclude with awards banquets at the Crystal Coast Civic Center. For more information, visit www.ejwoutdoors.com or call 252- 247-4725.
The Onslow Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament was originally scheduled for last weekend, but was postponed until this weekend. It will be held in Swansboro, with registration and the captains meeting relocated to the Piggly Wiggly parking lot. For more information, visit www.obokmt.us or call 910-326-2392.
The Redfish Action Challenge will be hosting an open red drum tournament in Wrightsville Beach this weekend. Final registration will be Friday afternoon, with fishing on Saturday. For more information, visit www.redfishaction.com or call 252-342-3074.
The US Open King Mackerel Tournament will be in Southport this weekend. Final registration is Thursday afternoon, with fishing on Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit www.usopenkmt.com or call 910-457-5787.