The return of summer last week didn't last very long. Just as I was re-adapting to it, the wind switched back to the north and the temperatures took a nosedive. I would have appreciated at least a short fall season to help me adjust. The water had even warmed back up a couple of degrees in a few places, with temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's reported along much of the coast. Those will probably drop significantly with this latest blast of cold air.
The forecast for this week really isn't good. The winds of last weekend will have mellowed by the time this is printed, but they are forecast to begin cranking up again late Wednesday. There is also a threat of rain in the weekend forecast. I can stand a little rain, a little cold, and a little wind, but to get them all at once is just a little too much. Maybe things will settle out some for next week.
The inshore catch continues to include a host of species. While it appeared that the spot bite had slowed, there were good reports again in many areas at the end of the week and Saturday. The speckled trout bite has improved in the last week, in spite of the changing weather. There are also some gray trout, bluefish, croakers, sea mullet, red drum, and a few flounder still biting in the inside waters along the coast. The striper bite at Manns Harbor is continuing to improve and a few are being caught around Oregon Inlet.
There are some red drum spread from the marshes to the nearshore ocean rocks and artificial reefs. In the marsh the schools are scattered, but bite well when you locate them. Some large red drum are also being caught in the surf. The most consistent bite has been from Cape Point to Avon Pier at Hatteras.
The ocean piers had another pretty good week. While there were a few large crowds, the spot bite has slowed significantly. Good catches of sea mullet were reported last week. The pier catch also included a few flounder, both gray and speckled trout, bluefish, black drum, false albacore, and pompano.
The fall king mackerel bite has been hot when the weather allowed making the trip. The kings appear to be holding over bait, from about 50 to 80 feet deep. The false albacore numbers and catches are growing around Cape Lookout.
While the winds and seas have limited the days that could be fished, the offshore bite remains hot. There are tuna north of Cape Hatteras and wahoo from the Big Rock south. Several days last week there were excellent dolphin catches. A few kings are also being caught offshore.
Congratulations to Capt. Jimmy Dupree and the crew of the OBX Girl for winning the Toys For Tots King Mackerel Tournament this past weekend. Their winning king weighed 45 pounds.
The US Anglers Association (USAA) 2003 Championship King Mackerel Tournament begins on Wednesday at Southport-Oak Island. This is a year-ending tournament, whose participants must qualify in divisional competition throughout the year. There are two classes. One is for boats of 23 feet and shorter and another for boats 24 feet and longer.
The USAA Championship Tournament begins with a Pig Pickin' and Captain's Meeting on Wednesday and concludes with an Awards Banquet on Saturday. Fishing days are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with boats allowed to fish two of the three days. Weigh-ins will be held each afternoon at South Harbor Village Marina.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver