The cold front last weekend was nice and welcome, but it didn't last very long. I was working inland and woke Friday morning to 38 degrees, but by the time I got back to Atlantic Beach around noon, it was in the high 60's and I fished until dark in shirtsleeves. The breeze was northerly early Saturday morning and still had a little bite, but it turned into a near-perfect fall fishing day--or maybe I should call it a fall catching day. Everyone I spoke with was talking about how good the fish was and is!
We are looking at a couple of little fronts moving through today and tomorrow, but with no real weather concerns except the possibility (please) of a little rain. We are looking at a little more wind than we would want for the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament, but the forecast is getting better every day and right now the wind forecast is down to pretty good except for later in the day Friday and early Saturday. Once the winds, which will only get to around 15-20, subside late Saturday morning, the rest of the weekend, through Monday, looks really good.
The fishing is good and should get even better over the next few weeks. Our weather and the water are unusually warm, but the fish are hungry. Early in the week, Bogue Inlet Pier reported the surf temperature at 77 degrees. As good as the fishing is now, it will probably bust through the roof when the water cools to the low 70's and high 60's.
I fished back in a couple of creeks Friday afternoon and was really impressed with all the bait I saw. We found some fish also, but they had a natural buffet spread in the water and weren't always the most interested in our lures. Still it was fun.
Saturday morning I was the guest of Capt. Michael Wells, Tom Baldwin and Bruce Andrews on the Miss Ann. They wanted to catch a few Spanish for dinner, some to brine for next year's marlin baits and then to maybe catch a few kings. Well folks, it was a gorgeous day on the water, with some fine folks, and the fish cooperated too. We caught Spanish until we were tired, then moved a couple of miles and added a few kings to the catch. The Spanish were in 15 to 30 feet of water off Fort Macon and the kings were just a little deeper and about a mile east of the Beaufort Inlet Channel.
There were lots of other boats enjoying the day and the fishing also. It was obvious something was happening from the turning basin out through the inlet. We saw lots of folks catching blues, gray trout, sea mullet, flounder and some of the largest lizard fish I have ever seen. We even had some of the mongo lizard fish hit our Clarkspoons.
The king mackerel bite was hot! They weren't all large fish and finding a winner for this weekend's tournament might pose a problem, but there were and are lots of them still along the beaches for almost the entire N.C. coast. The fishermen at the piers are at it again and have landed several nice kings this week.
While there are good numbers of red drum in the marshes and coastal creeks, there are some very large schools roaming the surf. These surf drum can be challenging as they require getting close enough to the breakers to cast to them. Be careful of breaking waves if you try this.
There are also still some large red drum in Pamlico Sound, but they are beginning to move towards the inlets. For the past several weeks, there have been nightly reports of a few being caught at the south point of Ocracoke and at Cape Point at Buxton. Certainly they are also at Cape Lookout, but I'm not getting reports from there.
I mentioned gray trout earlier and they are being caught. Several of the more popular spots are the Morehead City Turning Basin, Middle Marsh, Dead Tree Hole and off the end of the Cape Lookout Jetty in the Atlantic beach area and Sheepshead Rock, High Rock, the WOFES and the artificial reefs in the Cape Fear area. They are also in many of the deeper holes in the sounds and around the bridges, especially under the lights at night.
Speaking of under the bridges, the spot fishermen are really gathering near the drawbridge at Gallants Channel and the high-rise bridge at Emerald Isle. I don't think the big run is here yet, but it could begin at any time. The spot yacht concentration is also growing in the lower Cape Fear River across from Southport and where the Lockwood Folly River crosses the ICW between Oak Island and Holden Beach.
The piers are reporting lots of bluefish and Spanish, with mixed catches of spots, sea mullet, gray trout and speckled trout. There is also the beginning of a fall king run from the piers. For the spots and most of the other bottomfish, bloodworms or the Fishbites artificial bloodworm strips are the preferred baits. The blues and Spanish like Got-Cha's closer to the offshore end of the piers.
Speckled trout and puppy drum continue to bite well, while the flounder bite is questionable. The flounder fishing just has not been up to expectations this year. We have been hearing about the problems with flounder for a while and this year they are definitely hitting home.
The specks are pretty aggressive for the warmer water and haven't been as finicky as they sometimes can be. They are hitting live bait, many soft plastics and MirrOlures. There are good reports from all over and a few more large trout are beginning to show.
I mentioned the drum earlier and remind all that while the pups continue to bite well in the marshes, many of them and some yearling drum have moved into the surf. Look for them in the deeper sloughs, typically between the beach and the first bar.
Offshore, the wahoo bite continues to be strong. Fishermen are also seeing dolphin, a good number of sailfish for mid-October and tuna (mostly blackfin south of Cape Hatteras).
Offshore bottom fishing is really good right now. Black sea bass, beeliners and grunts are biting well from about 50 feet of water on out. The grouper are really aggressive too. Some good catches of reds and gags have been coming in regularly.
The CCA-NC Inside & Out Tournament was held in Morehead City and Beaufort last weekend. This was a multiple species tournament and featured lots of winners. The Inside Overall Title was won by Capt. Jeff Cronk and his crew on the Fishin4Life. They caught 84.225 inches of speckled trout, red drum and flounder and also topped the Red Drum Division. The Chasin' Tail Outdoors team won the Pro Red Drum Division with an 8 pounder, while the Specktacular topped the Trout Division with a 4.65 pound speck and the Juggerknot capped the Flounder Division with a very impressive 7.1 pound flatfish.
The outside fishermen were led by the Bonella Time with a 20 pound king, the Smooth Operator IV, with a 29 pound wahoo, and the Builders Choice laid claim to both the Tuna and Dolphin Divisions.
The Rumble in the Jungle tournament was held last weekend at Little River, S.C. While many of the boats, including the winning Ocean Isle Fishing Center crew, headed north to find their fish, many boats also had good catches closer to home. This was also the final event in the 2007 SKA Pro Tour and the Mining My Bidness team from Little River fished to the south and found the fish they needed to win the SKA Angler of the Year Award. Congratulations!
This weekend we have the Calcutta Wahoo Challenge (www.calcuttawahoo.com or 252-222-3321) from the Morehead City Waterfront and the postponed Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament (www.abkmt.com or 252-247-2334) from Atlantic Station and McCurdy's Restaurant in Atlantic Beach. The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament (www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd or 252-354-6350) begins Saturday at Emerald Isle and continues through December 1.