The weather cooled off again over last weekend, but stayed mostly sunny and nice. With this latest cold spell, the water temperature has slipped back into the 60's and gotten the fish excited again. This is probably the last time the inshore and nearshore water temps will see 70 this year, so get ready for the fall fishing to fire up again.
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving and by the end of the weekend many coastal businesses will begin closing or at least seriously limiting their hours. Some of the first to do this are the fishing piers. Some close, but leave their gates open and others require a yearly pass to issue a key for their gates. There are usually some discounts for purchasing your yearly pass early. Yearly pier passes are also a great Christmas present.
The trout bite, both specks and grays, continues to roll right along. With the recent cooling water temperatures we will probably see more speckled trout making their way out of the creeks towards the inlets and surf. Fishing in the surf and around the inlets should get pretty good over the next few weeks.
Live shrimp are an almost foolproof bait and many of the local tackle shops have them. Live mullet minnows are a pretty good substitute, but aren't quite as good. The problem with live shrimp is the pinfish and other bait thieves attack them with abandon. The bait thieves don't attack live mullet minnows quite as readily, but neither do the trout. Many suspending and diving baits, such as Mirrolures and Yo-Zuris, and soft plastics are also catching speckled trout well.
There are also gray trout spread along much of the N.C. coast. The grays usually are caught better in the ocean, but also venture inside some of the larger inlets. There are usually good gray trout bites along the Ferry Channel at Hatteras Inlet, Wallace Channel at Ocracoke Inlet, the Turning Basin at Beaufort Inlet and the pigfish grounds at the Cape Fear River Inlet. Stingsilvers and speck rigs are both catching the grays well. Another hot lure is the Jig Fish series from Seastriker.
Red drum fishing is good and should get better as the water cools a few more degrees. There are many smaller to medium size reds being caught in the marshes and sounds, plus they are catching some big reds in the surf. The better surf catches have come at night.
There are still some spots around, but the bite has been very hit or miss. I believe this recent cold snap may be signaling their end for the year. The spot fishing has been better in the ocean, but there have also been some hot times at several inside spots along the ICW. Many fishermen are very pleased with the new synthetic bloodworm baits from Fish Bites and will tell you they are catching as well, or maybe even better, than the real thing.
The fall pier fishing continues to be pretty good. In addition to the specks and spots, there have been scores of coolers filled with a combination of many different fish. The pier catches include sea mullet, gray trout, pompano, flounder, bluefish, black drum, red drum and sheepshead.
The false albacore bite picked up with the cooler weather last weekend. Maybe they just need that northeast wind to get them going. The better false albacore fishing has been between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout and out towards the Trawler Buoy.
Too bad there isn't a local king tournament this weekend. There have been a lot of big kings caught on the rocks, wrecks, and reefs in Raleigh Bay. The action is fast and furious from Cape Lookout to Cape Hatteras. The king action is also hot along the rest of the state, just with smaller fish. Live menhaden have been tough to find, but there have been plenty of bluefish, gray trout, cigar minnows and such to jig up and use for bait. Many fishermen are also catching limits using frozen cigar minnows and lures.
A few bluefin tuna are also being caught. The false albacore fishermen are reporting seeing more and more of them off Cape Lookout, especially around the Trawler Buoy and 30 Minute Rock. The closed days for commercial fishing (general category) have been set aside for November. General category boats may fish every day and keep 2 bluefins greater than 73 inches per day. Angling category boats may keep 1 bluefin between 47 and 73 inches each day and 1 bluefin greater than 73 inches per year.
Even though the offshore fishing is pretty good, the offshore boats aren't running regularly during the week. The wahoo bite has been very good and some late season sailfish are still being caught. A few dolphin are still around, but not many. The tuna bite improves as you move to the north.
Many area fishing teams are in Ft. Pierce, Florida this weekend competing
in the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship Tournament. The
tournament is Friday and Saturday. The last time this tournament was in Ft.
Pierce Tar Heel fishermen dominated the event. Good Luck to all of them.