I don't mind a little unpredictability and cold in the fall weather, but it sure would be nice to get a break from the wind. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that is going to happen this weekend either. I hate to suggest a weekend of "Honey-do's", but this might be a good time.
The weather forecast is calling for a strong cold front to push in from the west and bring some showers and strong southwesterly winds. As of late Thursday, there was a Small Craft Advisory posted for east of Cape Lookout and offshore through Sunday. The winds is supposed to fall out some and go to the northwest on Sunday, then turn more westerly on Monday. Oh yeah, the temperatures are supposed to drop starting Saturday night also. My plan is to work some over the weekend and try to be free if the wind falls out next week.
While the conditions have generally been pretty breezy, there have been a few small breaks if you were ready and able to take advantage of them and there have been some good catches. Last Friday was one of the prettiest days in a while and some of the reports indicate the fish liked it almost as much as the fishermen.
Last Friday was day two of the Calcutta Wahoo Challenge and most of that field fished, plus a bunch of king mackerel fishermen and a few folks who just wanted to head offshore. There were some wahoo landed, plus some blackfin tuna and lots of kings.
Some of the biggest news, though, was several sightings of bluefin tuna. Several of the king mackerel fishermen even reported hookups, but king mackerel gear just isn't a match for even small bluefins. This created quite a buzz along the waterfront and prompted some trips by area fishermen targeting bluefins, but I didn't hear of a commercial size bluefin (minimum 73 inches) being caught. Several recreational size fish (27 to less than 73 inches) were reported.
I had hoped to make a bluefin trip on Wednesday, but when the winds were blowing 19 and gusting to 23 at daylight, we decided we would wait for either better weather, more consistent fishing reports, or both.
There are some yellowfin tuna being caught, but they are from off Cape Hatteras and to the north and it is just too long a run in the conditions we have been having. Hopefully they will decide to move a little farther south and save our fishermen the run. While fuel prices have dropped some, they still aren't anywhere near what could be considered cheap.
The king mackerel bite in Raleigh Bay (east of Cape Lookout to Cape Hatteras) has been hot when the weather allows getting there. Several boats have ignored the comfort factor and gone anyway and returned with limits of big kings. The kings are spread from AR 285, just off Cape Lookout, to the Smell Wreck, off Cape Hatteras. Almost any live bait has been catching well and frozen cigar minnows are catching fairly well also. There are also good concentrations of kings off other parts of N.C., but the kings aren't as large.
The reports are the northeast wind has cleared the water near Cape Lookout and schools of false albacore have moved in close to the beaches and are terrorizing schools of glass minnows. The stiff breezes are making fly casting difficult, but with careful boat positioning and a little effort flies can be cast within their range. The fat alberts also readily hit small flashy lures. The best tactic is to find a school of feeding fish, cast into them and retrieve the lure rapidly.
While the days before the piers close for the winter are dwindling, pier fishermen continue to bring a good mixture of fish up and onto the planks. After slowing a bit last week, spots bit well again for most of this week. Several fishermen caught near coolers full in a day. While we thought this was about done for the year, the water warmed just a few degrees and it took off again. Unfortunately, the cold front that is headed our way now may cause the water temperatures to dip into the 50s again. Other fish being caught from the piers include black drum, red drum, speckled trout, gray trout, flounder, bluefish, blowfish and sea mullet.
Capt. Noah Lynk called me this week and was very excited about the size and number of speckled trout his clients were catching. He said they were regularly keeping limits of nice trout and releasing almost as many. He also said the trout they were keeping were running several pounds. I didn't want to be told no, so I didn't ask exactly where he had been fishing, but he works out of Barbour's Marina on Harkers Island.
Other reports of good specks have come from the Haystacks, Hoop Pole Creek, Newport River, Middle Marsh, North River and the jetty at Cape Lookout. Live shrimp are almost a "sure-thing" bait, but grubs and MirrOlures are producing well also.
I also received several good reports on puppy drum. The drum are scattered from well up the coastal creeks into the surf. Some of the hottest action has been in the surf. The pups also like a variety of grubs and MirrOlures.
There are also still some good mixed catches from the Morehead City Turning Basin out to Beaufort Inlet. Some big pigfish are there right now, plus spots, sea mullet, gray trout and bluefish. A few flounder are being caught near the inlets and along the beaches. The gray trout bite remains good at night under the bridges.
Congratulations are in order for Captains Jeff Cronk and Mike Taylor of the N.C. Charter Fishing Team. Cronk and Taylor, from Swansboro, competed in the Inshore Fishing Association (IFA) Cabela's Redfish Tour Championship held over the weekend in Panama City, Fla. and finished in fourth place. These fishermen won the regular season "Anglers of the Year" titles in the Atlantic (NC/SC/GA) Division of IFA, plus the Redfish Action Challenge (Harkers Island) and Crystal Coast Fishing Association (CCFA) Redfish Series (Swansboro).
North Carolina Sportsman Magazine and the Oak Island Parks and Recreation Department will partner to host a fishing seminar on Thursday, November 20, in Oak Island. The seminar will be at the Oak Island Recreation Center at 3003 E. Oak Island Drive and begins at 7:00 P.M. It will feature Capt Jimmy Price, of Wreck Hunter Guide Fishing, speaking on flounder fishing and Capt. Jerry Dilsaver, of North Carolina Sportsman Magazine, speaking on king mackerel fishing.
Registration for the seminar is $20 in advance and $25 the day of the seminar and at the door. As a special incentive to bring youngsters to the seminar, youngsters between 11 and 15 years old will be admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. This is sponsored by TakeMeFishing.org (www.takemefishing.org). For more information or to register, visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com or call 1-800-538-4355.
The Calcutta Wahoo Challenge was held over the weekend from the Morehead City waterfront. Congratulations to Capt. Chris Russell and the crew of the Piracy, who caught a 79.90 pound wahoo on Saturday to claim the win.
The Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Surf Fishing Tournaments was held over the weekend in Buxton. The F-Team, from Southern Shores built a lead and held on through the final session for the win. The F-Team is L.T. Eure, Larry Lewis, Mark Stevens, Tom Chance, Bill Ernst and Bill Swindell.
The Dale Ward Shootout King Mackerel Tournament was held over the weekend. This is a tournament, in honor of former NC DMF Sportfishing Specialist Dale Ward, is used to raise funds for a scholarship in Ward's name. Teams from the Raleigh Saltwater Sportfishing Club, the New Bern Fishing Club and the Carteret County Sportfishing Association competed with the Raleigh Saltwater Sportfishing Club claiming bragging rights for the year. The big king of the tournament was a 44 pounder caught by Miles Bunn and the crew of the Rod Hog, who were fishing for the Raleigh club.
The Friendly City by the Sea Speckled Trout tournament was held Saturday in Swansboro. The team of Ricky Kellum and Larry Hill won with a 3-fish aggregate weight of 16.60 pounds. Kellum also collected the Largest Trout award with a speck that weighed 6.9 pounds.
Fishermen from N.C. will be traveling to and from Biloxi, Miss. over the next several weeks to compete in the championship tournaments of the FLW Kingfish Tour and Southern Kingfish Association (SKA). The FLW Championship begins today (Friday) and the SKA Championship begins next Friday. For more information, visit www.flwoutdoors.com or www.fishska.com.
With this, tournaments are about through for the year. The 2008 NC Saltwater Fishing Tournament continues for many species through December 31. For more information, visit www.ncdmf.net. The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament at Emerald Isle runs through November 29. For more information visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd or call the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department at 252-354-6350.
The Ocean Isle Fishing Center has announced a week long king mackerel tournament to be held November 29 through December 6. Fishermen may fish any two days of the time period, but fishing days must be declared before fishing. Two sets of scales will be open for participants, with one weigh-in at Town Creek Marina in Beaufort and one weigh-in at Hatteras Landing Marina in Hatteras. For more information, visit www.oifc.com.