It might have been cool over last week and weekend, but someone turned the heat back on this week. Unfortunately the weatherman says that is going to change Friday night and it might be a while before it warms back up again.
We are looking at another windy weekend with some rain, but nothing like the nor'easter of two weeks ago. There are still many places waiting for their rivers to drop back below flood level from the rains that accompanied that storm. Estimates from the Dare County Outer Banks have just been totaled and are for millions of dollars in wind damage and flooding from ocean overwash.
The rainwater runoff from that storm is keeping the water dirty and very fresh in many areas. I fished several places over Thanksgiving weekend that were very silty and so fresh the water had a red tint. The water is clearing and the fishing is holding pretty well. It should get even better.
The weather forecast has the wind blowing 15 knots or above all weekend, with some stronger stuff on Friday and Monday. Hopefully most folks were able to take advantage of the clear and calm weather earlier in the week and satisfied their fishing Jones. As much as I hate to say it--this might be a good weekend to do some Christmas shopping or knock out a few items on the honey-do list.
While the water keeps trying to cool, it is hanging around the 60 degree mark. I saw it closer to 50 at daybreak back near a ramp well back in a creek and then it was 58 that afternoon when I loaded the boat. The last report I had from Bogue Inlet Pier was on Thanksgiving Day and it had the surf at 62 degrees. I believe this cold front might be the one that drops the water into the 50's and it doesn't get above 60 again until spring.
Once the wind settled out last Sunday afternoon, the week has been especially calm and warm. There wasn't much for an excuse of not fishing here you wanted.
Those fishermen that headed offshore found the bite to be inconsistent. There were still a few wahoo and kings off the Big Rock and some wahoo off Cape Fear, but the bite was not as steady as it had been before the nor'easter. The strongest offshore bite was tuna off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet. There have been some kings mixed in the offshore catch all along the coast.
Bluefin tuna provided the most excitement this week. There were a few hooked off Cape Lookout, but a surprisingly strong bite began Tuesday at the Fairway Buoy, just east of Frying Pan Shoals.
The most surprising bluefin story was the one that showed up in Archers Creek, behind Emerald Isle, on Sunday. This fish was spotted and landed by a pair of fishermen who got caught up in the heat of the moment before they realized they were in a skiff and not their boat with a license to land the tuna. Fisheries officers confiscated the fish and sold it at auction. Fines may be forthcoming but were not immediately levied.
The big question is what was that fish doing in Archers Creek? It may be unrelated but it is interesting to me that while this is on the inland side of Emerald Isle, it is fairly close to where the bluefin beached itself several weeks ago. Does anyone have any thoughts on this they would like to share?
The offshore bottom bite was good again this week. It may be the one thing that wasn't affected by the nor'easter. Fishermen caught gag, scamp and red grouper, plus beeliners, black sea bass, triggerfish and grunts.
The king mackerel were biting this week and some good catches were reported. In Onslow Bay, Christmas Rock (at Frying Pan Shoals) Rock south of 13, Big 10 and Little 10 were popular spots. In Raleigh Bay, East Rock, 1700 Rock, the Atlas Tanker, Chicken Rock and the Smell Wreck were all mentioned. In Long Bay, the Horseshoe, South Forty and Frying Pan Tower were the hotspots. The kings are holding in water of 68 degrees or warmer and around structure that is holding bait.
There were more false albacore caught this week off Morehead City and Wrightsville Beach. Numerous schools were feeding just off the Cape Lookout Jetty and a few snagged some grubs that were intended for trout. A 10 to 15 pound fat Albert is quite a fight on trout tackle. They were scattered from Masonboro Inlet to the Liberty Ship off Wrightsville.
Good catches of red drum and speckled trout continue to be reported from the marshes and Creeks north of Carolina Beach Inlet. The fresh water runoff from the Northeast Cape Fear and Cape Fear Rivers is combining at Wilmington and the Cape Fear River below there is very dirty and dirtying up the adjoining water. There are also some drum and trout in the surf. Look for sloughs along the beach and holes around the inlets.
Even with lots of fresh water moving down the Neuse River, the guides around Oriental are reporting as good a fall for trout as they have seen in many years. The trout are holding out of the main flow of the river behind islands and in the adjoining creeks.
There were a few reports of some flounder, but most were incidental catches. There were also a few flounder in the surf.
Gray trout and sea mullet are being caught in the Morehead City Turning Basin and through Beaufort Inlet to the Dead Tree Hole. They are also off New River Inlet, the Masonboro Inlet Jetties, Johns Creek Rock and at several of the nearshore artificial reefs off Brunswick County. Some nice sea mullet are in the West Cut of the Cape Fear River Inlet at Fort Caswell and scattered through the surf all along the N.C. Coast.
Stingsilvers and Jig Fish are good lures for the gray trout, while speck rigs will usually catch both. Many fishermen prefer a 2-drop bottom rig, with small plastic squid skirts, for sea mullet. The sea mullet like a little piece of fresh shrimp, bloodworm, or one of the synthetic bloodworms for bait. Some sea mullet are also being caught in the surf.
Most of the ocean piers closed for the winter last Sunday. There are still a few open, but all but a couple will close in the next two weeks.
The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament (252-354-6350, www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd) in Emerald Isle will end Saturday. Many trout have already been entered in the six week long tournament and a winner will be announced Saturday evening.