While the days have warmed back up since the cold front of last week, the water cooled off and the fish really started biting. This looks like a nice fall weekend and a good time to go fishing. If the fish keep biting like they have for the past week, it will be more like catching than merely fishing.
I believe last week's cold snap was what got the fishing going. The water temps had cooled to the mid 60's and the fish got really active. With the past few warm sunny days the water has warmed back to near 70 in a few places, but the fish felt that first chill and they are moving and feeding.
This looks like a good weekend to catch some fish. The weather will be mostly sunny and the winds less than 10 knots. Bring plenty of bait and some extra coolers.
Maybe this lull is actually the end of the tropical weather season. It has been the busiest year on record and has already gone through the alphabet, plus added Alpha and Beta. There isn't a serious weather system on the map right now, so maybe we can escape the year without adding a tropical storm or hurricane Gamma.
The fish everyone is talking about right now is speckled trout. It seems like they are everywhere from the marshes and creeks to the ocean. The speckled trout bite has been exceptionally good from the piers and in the surf. Several of the pier operators have reported their leader boards changing almost daily.
One unique spot to catch speckled trout is around the stop nets at Bogue Banks. These are nets designed not to catch fish, but to delay their movement along the beach. Every so often a net crew comes out and circles the area next to the stop net with a seine and hauls it back to the beach. Don't get mad when they do this. It is their stop net and you wouldn't be catching fish there without it. At times, the stops nets along Bogue Banks can be fantastic places to fish.
The trout are hitting a variety of soft plastic grubs and hard plastic stick baits. One sure-fire bait is live shrimp and many of the tackle shops in the area have them.
The spot bite seems to be hot and cold and sometimes varies on the same day. For the past few days they have been pretty consistent, with the better action coming around high tide. There are some large spots at times, but this isn't the run of the big yellowbelly spots. They were reported in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and should be arriving at any time.
The piers have been some of the better locations for spot fishing, but there have been some good days inshore also. Many smaller local channels and the Intracoastal Waterway are popular locations to catch spots. The Intracoastal Waterway near the Emerald Isle Bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway where the Lockwood Folly Inlet Channel intersects are very popular locations that tend to get overcrowded.
When you are fishing for spots at these locations, you must remember it is illegal to anchor so you block a navigable channel. The larger boats are constrained to operating in the deeper water of the channel and large rigs, especially tugs and barges, have limited maneuverability and require long distances to slow and stop. You should anchor along the edge of the channel and cast over into it.
The fall fishing continues to be good from the piers. In addition to the specks and spots, there have been many coolers full of mixed catches. These catches have included speckled trout, sea mullet, gray trout, pompano, flounder, bluefish, black drum, red drum, Spanish mackerel and some sheepshead.
With the cooling water temperatures the inshore red drum are getting very active and biting well. There was a good catch of big reds in the surf at Portsmouth Island, Ocracoke and Hatteras this week. Several king mackerel fishermen have reported catching big red drum while slow trolling artificial reefs off Morehead City and Southport.
The king bite has been good also. There are lots of mid-teen kings around the rocks, wrecks and reefs in 50 to 70 feet of water. It hasn't really turned on just yet, but the first of the big fall kings showed at Hatteras this week.
The false albacore that didn't bite during last weekend's Cape Lookout Albacore Festival got hungry by Tuesday. There were hungry Alberts reported from around AR 315 up to Cape Lookout.
Some early bluefins have arrived. Several false albacore and king mackerel fishermen have reported having tackle destroyed from mystery fish. A couple have been landed, but the big schools shouldn't arrive until the water temps drop another few degrees.
While it was windy during the middle of the week, the offshore boats have been able to run pretty regularly. The wahoo bite has been very good and some late season sailfish are creating a few surprises daily. There aren't many dolphin still around, but those still here are generally nice ones. The tuna bite is hot off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet.
Congratulations to Bennett Kittrell for winning the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival and to Tommy Via for winning the fly fishing division.
Congratulations also to Allen Kinney for winning the Wrightsville Beach King Mackerel Tournament.
The tournament this weekend is the rescheduled Drum Inlet King Mackerel Tournament (252-225-8741) from Beaufort.