Every time I think a weather trend might be developing, the weather takes an unexpected turn and reverses itself. This weekend will be another example. After threatening to get cold all week, we finally started cooling off on Thursday, but are looking at southwest winds and warmer temperatures again on Saturday and Sunday.
I've said it a bunch before and probably will many times again, but welcome to coastal North Carolina. If you don't like the weather we're having right now, just wait a little while--it'll change.
Once again the weekend weather looks odd. Strong northwest winds and cooler temperatures are forecast for Friday with the wind switching to the southwest and bringing warmer temps for Saturday and Sunday, before going back to the north and cooling off again from Monday on. You better get out both your snuggies and t-shirts.
The southwest wind has two negatives. First, it muddies much of our water. There are southerly facing beach at Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke, Cape Lookout to Swansboro and From Cape Fear to the S.C. State Line. The southwest wind is blowing onshore and muddying up the surf and nearshore ocean. Second, it holds the cooler water above Cape Hatteras and prevents it from moving into the areas south of there with the schools of winter menhaden and the bluefin tuna and stripers that follow.
There are a lot of undersize speckled trout being caught right now. While I usually don't like to keep specks even close to the minimum size, I have been forced to several times in order to have a trout dinner.
The water temperatures haven't yet dropped to usual winter levels and many specks are still holding in numerous inshore places. As the water continues to cool, they should begin moving from the creeks towards the inlets and surf.
When you are competing for speckled trout's attention, live shrimp are usually the best bait. Shrimp are getting scarce in local creeks, but many tackle shops are stocking them. Live mullet minnows are a reasonable second choice, with lures and soft plastics coming in third. When I switch to artificial baits, MirroLures and curl-tail grubs are my favorites.
I didn't hear much this week about gray trout along the Morehead City Ship Channel and in the Turning Basin. Have they moved or was it just a slow time?
I am hearing pretty good reports on the grays at the Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry Channel, Ocracoke Inlet, Dead Tree Hole, off the end of the Cape Lookout Jetty, Johns Creek Rock, the WOFES, AR 425 and near the ends of many of the piers. Vertical jigging with Stingsilvers, Jig Fish and speck rigs are catching the grays well.
Our red drum fishing continues to roll along very strong. There are lots of smaller and medium size drum spread from the marshes to the surf. Some larger drum have been caught in the surf at Hatteras, Ocracoke, Drum Inlet, Cape Lookout, Masonboro Island and between Fort Fisher and Bald Head.
The spots are about gone, but congratulations are in order for Lonnie Johnson of Hubert. On Thanksgiving Day, he landed a 1 pound and 1 ounce spot at Bogue Inlet Pier. That's a huge spot!
Several of the ocean piers closed last Sunday and more will close this weekend. There are still some good catches coming from the piers, but they are sporadic. It would be wise to call in advance to be sure your favorite pier is still open.
A few stripers are being caught along the northern Outer Banks, between the Va. Line and Cape Hatteras.
The strong winds have seriously limited the fishing for fat alberts. When the wind blows from the northeast for a couple of days the water begins to clear and the false albacore bite picks up. Then it gets too strong or goes back to an onshore direction and the water muddies up and slows the action. They are still around and the best action has been off Cape Lookout and out towards the Trawler Buoy.
Weather has limited the king fishing, but the bite continues to be hot when you can get there. Look for water temperatures in the high 60's and structure that is holding bait. The larger kings are In Raleigh Bay between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Live bait is best, but it has become pretty scarce. Fortunately the fish are hungry and haven't been too particular.
A few bluefin tuna are being caught, but they really haven't arrived yet. A large school of menhaden has been reported above Cape Hatteras and maybe once it gets around there and down our way the larger bluefins will follow. It might also bring the first stripers of the year.
The offshore boats aren't running regularly, but are finding fish when a weather window allows the trip. The wahoo bite has been good and a few tuna are being caught from the big Rock to the south. The tuna bite has been hot from Hatteras to the north, with lots of yellowfin and some bigeye tuna well over 100 pounds off Oregon Inlet.