The fronts for last weekend were supposed to bring a little more than a short rain shower and some gusty winds, but that's about all they amounted to. The warm front on Friday brought some winds from the south that changed right back to the northwest during the night. The only rain was Thursday afternoon and evening during registration for the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament and all it did was scare a few people and keep them from registering for the tournament.
We are under the influence of a gusty high for the next few days. It will be pushed out by a cold front early Sunday and reverse the winds to the north, but only drop the temperature a few degrees. Don't get me wrong, I like the warm weather, but Wednesday is Halloween and it's still shorts weather at night. Some cooler days, along with cooler water temperatures, are long overdue.
The fishing is good. In fact, it's really probably a little better than it should be with all things considered. I was talking with an inshore guide this afternoon and he said that given the current weather trend, we might be wearing shorts at Thanksgiving and still wondering when the big winter trout will start biting. Think about it, the daytime highs have been in the 80's, with nighttime lows only in the 60's and the water temperature at Bogue Inlet Pier on Wednesday was 78 degrees.
I fished Friday of the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament and caught a lot of kings, but just not the right one. My buddy, who owns the boat, slipped and cracked an ankle, so we didn't fish on Saturday. Congratulations to Walter Simpkins and crew for their winning 50.10 pound king. Walter is the first two-time winner of the tournament.
Monday I was invited to Oregon Inlet Fishing Center to go yellowfin tuna fishing with another friend on the Tuna Fever with Capt. Billy Maxwell and mate Billy Dickerson. They warned us the tuna bite wasn't really happening and then explained the water was 10 degrees hotter than it should be at this time of year. It was a real treat watching them work the green stick to get a few tuna to bite and that fresh yellowfin I had for dinner the next night made the long trip worthwhile. We went 3 for 6 on tuna bites and also caught 17 dolphin.
The king mackerel bite is hot all along the coast. They are being caught from the piers out to about 100 feet of water. If you want to catch a king, it doesn't get much better than this. It doesn't seem to matter if you are using live bait, dead bait or lures, the kings are hungry and biting well.
The drum are chasing mullet minnows in the marshes and will readily hit many lures and baits. They are especially fun to catch on topwater lures. There are also some very large schools roaming the surf zone around many inlets. Some times they are close enough to reach by casting from the beach and some days you need a boat.
There have been some steady catches of large red drum at Cape Lookout, Drum Inlet, Ocracoke Inlet and Cape Hatteras. The best action has been during the late evening and night, but a few have been caught during the day. The best bait for these drum is a big chunk of mullet.
The gray trout bite has been pretty good from the Morehead City Turning Basin out through Beaufort Inlet and along the Beaufort Inlet Channel out a mile or so. There have also been some grays caught at Middle Marsh, in the Dead Tree Hole and off the end of the Cape Lookout Jetty. If you don't mind fishing at night, they are under the lights around the high-rise bridges. The only problem is getting the bait down past the bluefish that are swarming just under the surface at the bridges. There have also been a few gray trout catches reported from Johns Creek Rock, Sheepshead Rock and the WOFES.
There are also some sea mullet in the Morehead City Turning Basin and out Beaufort Inlet and down the beach to the east. In the ocean, the sea mullet have been holding at around 25 feet deep.
The spot run is going pretty strong and seems to be getting a little better. There are growing groups of spot yachts in Gallants Channel at Beaufort, the Emerald Isle Bridge, Banks Channel at Topsail, the Cape Fear River between Southport and Fort Caswell and the Lockwood Folly River at the Intracoastal Waterway.
Wally from the Sheraton Pier at Atlantic Beach called to tell me they are catching lots of big Spanish mackerel and bluefish from the pier. He said there were also some spots, sea mullet, gray trout, black drum and flounder. Bloodworms or the Fishbites artificial bloodworm strips are the preferred baits for the bottomfish while the blues and Spanish like Got-Cha's quickly ripped across the surface.
Speckled trout are biting well at times, but most fishermen are expecting the trout fishing to get better if the water ever cools. 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. The hottest reports continue to come from the Haystacks.
While it seems to be a little better this week, the flounder bite just isn't consistent.
There is a slow bite going on at Beaufort Inlet and along the edges of the deeper water at the turning basin.
Wahoo continue to be the best offshore catch from the Rock pile to the south. Fishermen are also seeing a good number of sailfish, especially for late October, a few tuna (mostly blackfin south of Cape Hatteras), and some dolphin. There was a hot billfish bite off Cape Hatteras on Monday and it should be moving south. Hopefully they don't move past us while the winds are gusty this weekend.
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. There are also some good catches of tilefish in water a little deeper.
The Calcutta Wahoo Challenge was won by the Live Wire with Capt. Junior Johnson and crew with a 47.70 pounder. Ashley Stewart was the angler on the winning fish and also collected Top Lady Angler honors for her effort. Walter Simpkins and his crew on the Sea Drifter became the first repeat winner of the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament with their 50.10 pound king.
The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament (www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd or 252-354-6350) began October 20 at Emerald Isle and continues through December 1. The Cape Lookout Albacore Festival (www.claf.org or 252-646-2032) is in Morehead City this weekend and the Fall Brawl King Classic (www.oifishingcenter.com or 910-575-3474) is in Ocean Isle Beach.