Last weekend and most of this week haven't been much of a weather treat, but this weekend's weather looks to be improving some. The first improvement is the temperature. After having freeze warnings just about everywhere last weekend, we are back up well into the 60's and looking at highs in the 70's over this weekend.
The wind will be a little less also, but will be switching directions almost daily. After beginning the weekend from the west on Friday, the wind will swing southerly for Saturday and then back to northerly for Sunday. There is something for everyone there, with the winds blowing less than 15 knots except for Saturday afternoon. It could be a really nice fall weekend.
The two fish mentioned in everyone's catches are king mackerel and speckled trout. When the weather allows heading out to 60 feet of water the kings have been there and hungry. When the winds wouldn't allow heading offshore in comfort, there have been speckled trout in the sounds, coastal creeks and surf from Corolla to Calabash.
The fall king mackerel run is in full swing and the fishing is hot, when the weather allows the trip. The kings have moved offshore to depts. of 60 feet and greater. Several spots that are mentioned frequently are the Bad Bottoms, 4-Mile Rock at Drum Inlet, 1700 Rock, East Rock, Northwest Places, Triple Nickel, Southeast Bottoms, Christmas Rock, 23 Miler Rock, the 30/30, the Cucumber, the Horseshoe, 65 Foot Hole, Christina Ledge and the Jungle.
There are daily reports of good speck catches from a variety of locations. The speck bite is going on in creeks off the Albemarle Sound, Pamlico Sound, Neuse River, New River and in many of the coastal creeks and marshes from Oregon Inlet to Little River Inlet.
The next most mentioned fish is red drum. I am not foolish enough to pronounce our red drum population as being back, but it sure is the best it has been in a long time. The fishery managers are reporting the absence of good numbers of a couple of year classes, but drum fishing is a bright spot, both inland and in the surf.
I am still getting some reports of excellent flounder catches. It seems to be a rather spotty thing though. It seems either you are in them or you are not. This week I heard of a bunch of shorts in the surf. The flounder reports are still pretty good from the nearshore artificial reefs.
Speaking of flounder, this week I was invited to visit the flounder hatchery at South Brunswick High School, near Southport. Aquaculture teacher Byron "Barry" Bey and his students have been working with fresh water fish for years and are having good success with flounder. I saw several tanks with probably 1,500 or so juvenile flounder between 5 and 9 inches long. There was also one tank with a pair of big mamas that were in quarantine and waiting to supply their next batch of eggs. It was quite impressive.
There are good numbers of gray trout being caught also. They are inside at the Morehead City Turning Basin and in the ocean at the Dead Tree Hole, off the end of the Cape Lookout Jetty, at the Masonboro Inlet jetties, Johns Creek Rock, the WOFES and many of the nearshore artificial reefs.
There are sea mullet scattered through the surf from Hatteras to Sunset Beach, plus in the Morehead City Turning Basin, and in the Western Cut of the Cape Fear River Inlet. The sea mullet like a little taste of fresh shrimp, bloodworm, or one of the synthetic bloodworms added to the jig.
I didn't hear much from the spot fishermen this week. There are still fair numbers of boats at most of the favorite locations along the coast, but the catches have slowed.
Not many spots were reported from the piers either. The better pier spot catches were from the southern end of the state. This week's pier catches included spots, bluefish, flounder, sea mullet, red drum, black drum, puffers, croakers, gray trout and speckled trout.
There was a little other good news from the piers this week. Mike Stanley said even though the agreement for the town of Emerald Isle to purchase Bogue Inlet Pier had fallen through, both the Stanley family and the town of Emerald Isle were committed to keeping the pier open.
The false albacore returned to Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout this week and even with the northerly winds, the fishermen could get to them. A few fat Alberts also were caught off Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches.
The continuous fronts and their accompanying stiff winds have been a hindrance, but when they could go, the offshore boats found some good catches. As it has been for a while, wahoo were the featured species. Some kings and a few lost dolphin were also caught. There are reports of tuna to the north, off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet, and occasionally one finds its way south and into the local catches.
As I was writing this last week, a 79-inch bluefin tuna beached itself at Emerald Isle. I hate to see one of these fish wasted like this, but hopefully this is a sign the big schools of bluefin will be heading our way shortly.
The fall offshore bottom bite is going strong. The reports include good numbers of gag, scamp and red grouper, plus beeliners, black sea bass, triggerfish and grunts. An occasional hog snapper or spiny lobster really adds to the variety of this catch.
Congratulations to Charly Faassen and the crew of the Reel Pursuit for winning the Fall Brawl King Classic. They caught a 24.75 pound king mackerel to edge out the win by .15 pounds. An informal local tournament, the Swipes Wipes 2 in 1 King Mackerel Tournament was won by Jimmy Butts and the crew of the Jimmy Mack. David Moore claimed the top honors in the Ed Sewell Speckled Trout Tourney with a 5-fish aggregate weight of 23.42 pounds. Congratulations to them also.
The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament (252-354-6350, www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd) continues through December 2 in Emerald Isle and the Friendly City Speckled Trout Tournament (910-326-2400) will be held this weekend in Swansboro.
The Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour Championship is this weekend in Mount Pleasant, S.C. and the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship is next weekend in Fort Pierce, Florida. Many N.C. teams qualified for these events and are competing.
For more in-depth coverage on "how to" and "where to" go fishing along the Carolina coast, check out my articles and more in the N.C. Sportsman Magazine and visit us on the web at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.