While the weather this week has been generally nice, except for a few scattered and sometimes strong showers, it has been breezy. It isn't enough to be a mullet blow in velocity, but the wind has basically been from the northeast at 15 knots or more for about a week. Unfortunately it isn't forecast to calm down much until Sunday and Monday, so we have a few more days to go.
Thankfully we have several beaches and inlets that face the south and they have a lee from these winds. You can't go very far offshore without it getting pretty bumpy, but as long as you stay reasonably close to the beach there isn't room for the wind to push up a chop. That should stay true for the next few days, but there is a 4-7 foot swell running in addition to the chop, if you venture very far off the beach.
The tropical systems that were looking so strong last week have blown themselves out and currently there isn't a weather system that appears to be headed our way. The winds we are having may be some of the outer feeders for a northeaster system off Florida, but the experts aren't ready to make a call on its intensification just yet.
This week's report may seem like a bit of a broken record, but, since the fishing has been basically pretty good for a couple of weeks, that isn't so bad. This is fall along the N.C. coast and October began this week. The fishing is supposed to be good and getting better.
One of the reports from the past several weeks has been that bluefish are as close to a sure thing as anything ever is in fishing. There are bluefish around every inlet and they are spread up and down the beaches, plus scattered through the inshore waters. Most of the inside blues are averaging a pound or so, but there are some larger ones. The ocean blues are larger, with 5 pounders being caught regular enough to not raise eyebrows.
This week's new report is king mackerel along the beaches. There are lots of kings along the beaches and some are really big. I heard of one in the 40's from the Dead Tree Hole area and several in the 30's from the beach and nearshore reefs off Southport.
I have been working some Tuesday evening seminars with Capt. Ray Massengill of Down East guide Service for the past few weeks and he arrives with a better story every week. This week he was telling of catching red drum from just under slot size to over 50 inches in less than 2 feet of water where the Pamlico Sound swell, stirred up by the northeast winds, was breaking and churning the bait up off the bottom as it broke crossing a sandy point.
The large red drum fishing in Pamlico Sound and the lower Neuse River has been good for a while and should stay that way until the water cools a few more degrees. When they move they will be headed to the inlets and should be in the surf for a while. For the past few days there have been several caught each night at the Ocracoke points and Cape Point at Buxton.
When they couldn't venture farther due to the windy and choppy conditions, more fishermen turned to the nearshore and inshore holes looking for gray trout. They were rewarded too. Good gray trout catches have come from the Morehead City Turning Basin, under the high-rise bridges (especially at night), Dead Tree Hole, just off the Cape Lookout Jetty and in the deep water inside the hook at Cape Lookout.
Wally from the Sheraton Pier called to say they were catching lots of bluefish and the spot catches were increasing a little. He said they were also catching pompano, gray trout, flounder, Spanish mackerel, a few red and black drum and a few speckled trout.
For the boatless fishermen who prefer inside waters, there was a pretty consistent spot bite on the beach beside the drawbridge across Gallants Channel and at the new pier beside the Radio Island high-rise bridge.
As I was writing this, there hadn't yet been a king landed in the Bogue Inlet Pier King Tournament. This tournament continues through Friday and there are some good reports of kings being caught at some of the southern piers, so there is time for a last minute bite to get everyone smiling.
Much like with the bluefish and gray trout, there were more reports of good catches of speckled trout again this week. Part of the reason is more fishermen were inshore and fishing for them. There are a lot of smaller, but legal, specks, but there are some braggin' size ones mixed in. As with last week, the hottest reports are coming from the Haystacks behind Morehead City, but there are also some secret holes that are producing well. Live shrimp are as close to foolproof baits as it gets. Minnows, grubs and MirrOlures are producing also.
Puppy drum continue to bite well in the marshes, plus the pups and some yearling drum have moved into the surf. They are often near the inlets, but can be in almost any slough along the beach. Some schools have already been large enough to make a reddish tint in the water.
While the flounder bite is improving, it has been a slow year for flatfish. Those caught inshore are often on the slope where shallow water drops into a channel or slough and baitfish pass with the tide. Inlets are usually one of the better spots. The nearshore ocean artificial reefs have been some of the most consistent spots so far this year.
Remember the size limits are 14-1/2 inches for ocean flounder and 14 inches for flounder caught inside the inlets. Don't catch a few inside and then head out unless they are all 14-1/2 inches or longer. Marine Patrol offices have to assume you caught the fish in whatever water you are in when you are checked. The possession limit is 8 flounder.
For those with boats big enough to make the trip or on charters, the wahoo bite continues to be strong. There are also still some sailfish and a few tuna (mostly blackfin south of Cape Hatteras). There are also some good pods of dolphin still roaming inshore of the Gulf Stream.
The kings have moved close to the beaches and the bite is improving almost daily. Good numbers and even some large individuals are coming from the area between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout and the Cape Fear River Inlet to Shallotte Inlet.
Capt. Mark Pincus and the crew of the Reelin came up from Hilton Head, S.C. to top last weekend's Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour event in Atlantic Beach. Their large fish weighed 36 pounds, 2 ounces and their winning aggregate (2-fish) weight was 64 pounds, 6 ounces.
This weekend's tournaments are the US Open (www.usopenkmt.com or 910-457-5787) in Southport and the Nags Head Surf Fishing Club Tournament (252-441-1670) in Nags Head.
Several area fishermen qualified for the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series Championship, which is being held in Orange Beach, Alabama through this weekend.
I have one more of the N.C. Sportsman Fall Fishing Seminars next week in Salisbury at the Salisbury Civic Center. 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.