The long run of northerly winds, since the end of September had some impact on the fishing along the North Carolina Coast. At first it was nice to have the consistent winds that kept much of the coastal water clear, but now it has helped the water temperatures drop to just a little below normal for this time of year. This is not all bad, but if the fall fishing ends a little early you shouldn't be too disappointed.
Good inshore fishing continues. Red drum are being caught along the entire coast. In places like the Newport River, they are thick enough that you can fish them with fly tackle. The conservation efforts of the past few years are paying off as several year classes are heavily included in most catches. The drum have been responding well to natural bait, live bait, hard lures, spoons, clousers, copperheads, and a variety of soft plastics. Remember that red drum under 18 inches and over 27 inches are for the fun of catching and photo opportunities only. If you must have a drum for dinner, you may keep 1 per day, between 18 and 27 inches total length.
Flounder are still around but the numbers are not as great as a few weeks ago. Mullet minnows and mud minnows will work well in most situations, while a larger mullet, croaker, menhaden, or even a pinfish is the ticket for attracting the attention of one of the big boys.
Speckled trout are getting more aggressive with the cooling water temperatures. They are still around the marshes but should be moving to deeper holes as the water temperatures fall below 70. Mirrolures, Yo-Zuri's, and soft plastics should all be effective. Several fishermen have commented that the Berkley Inshore 4 inch curltail grub in the "electric chicken" color has been very hot.
Striper are biting in the waters around Manns Harbor, Manteo, and Oregon Inlet. They are not thick yet but will continue getting better as the water cools. Many locals say to use any color bucktail and worm or grub combination as long as it is green. White, yellow, and chartreuse usually will also work.
SURF & PIER
In the southern and central coast, there are still a fair number of spots right now. This is probably about over but may continue for another week or two. A 2 or 3 drop bottom rig and shrimp or bloodworms is the ticket. When the bite is hot, either bait works well. When the bite slows, bloodworms are the food of choice.
Bluefish are still around and falling for jerk jiggers. Shiny lures and a slower retrieve are the ticket for the bluefish.
Some puppy drum are moving through the surf right now. A nice chunk of fresh natural bait will get their attention. If they appear finicky, switch to a fish finder rig so the fish can pick it up and move without feeling the resistance of the sinker. Some larger drum are being caught at Cape Point at Cape Hatteras, The south side of Ocracoke Inlet, and at Drum Inlet
Flounder are also moving in the surf. Live mud or mullet minnows are your best bait.
A mixture of sea mullet (whiting) and gray trout are occasionally working up around the ends of the piers and into the range of surf casters. The sea mullet have an excellent sense of smell and will often turn their noses up at anything other than the freshest shrimp. The gray trout are sight feeders that prefer a jigged bait like a speck rig or a Stingsilver.
Stripers are just starting to show up in the surf from Nags Head to the south. On Wednesday, November 1, there were a few caught in the surf at Avon. Only a few more degrees cooler water and they will be biting well.
Kings, spanish, and blues are the main trolling catches. The kings and spanish are about gone from these waters for the year. There is still a good amount of bait and that is what is holding them. As soon as the bait leaves or the water drops a few degrees the mackerel will be history for another year. While the kings will hit larger spoons, swimming plugs and live baits will usually produce better. For the spanish and blues 2/0, 0, and 1 size Clarkspoons and Drone spoons are excellent choices. troll them fast for spanish and slower for blues.
False Albacore are showing up in ever increasing numbers. These little cousins of the tunas are great sport on light spinning or baitcasting tackle and fly gear. There are some along the whole coast, but the waters around Cape Lookout will hold the greatest concentration. Small lures or flies moved fast will get the best results.
The bottom bouncers should soon be catching sea mullet (whiting) in good numbers. There have been a few in many locations, like the Dead Tree Hole and off the Cape Lookout Jetty already. Speck rigs tipped with fresh shrimp should catch them well.
Gray trout are showing up at many of the nearshore rocks and wrecks. Vertically jigging Stingsilvers or real hair speck rigs is the way to catch gray trout. The limit is 10 per day with a minimum size of 14 inches.
On Thursday, November 2, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Section added a new tug boat to the existing structure at AR 315 off Atlantic Beach.
More wahoo have been being caught over the past few weeks. They are moving along the inshore edge of the Gulf Stream and its eddies. A few are even farther inshore, chasing bait with the king mackerel.
With the cooling water temperatures the kings have moved back out to 50 to 100 feet of water. There is a good concentration all along the coast, with some really big ones off Hatteras.
In the past week there have been several encounters with early arriving bluefin tunas. The incidents have occurred off Ocracoke and Hatteras. The tunas are hitting live baits that are intended for king mackerel. Several have gotten close enough to identify and estimate their size at 300 to 500 pounds.
The fall tuna fishing has not yet fired up off the central and southern coast. There are a few yellowfins being caught but no concentration has been found. The best tuna fishing right now is north of the Big Rock, especially at the Point. There are good size yellowfins and should soon be some big eyes.