Our weather keeps giving us longer glimpses into winter, but then warms back into the seventies like it did earlier this week.  It's a forecaster's nightmare as multiple fronts run across the country and the long range forecast changes almost daily.  Now we are looking at getting cooler for the weekend and staying windy for a while.  The forecast has highs in the sixties for the weekend, but barely so and the wind will be gusting from the northeast over the weekend and is forecast to pick up a little more by Tuesday.  It could be a tough week.

With the breezy conditions, Fishing is limited to nearshore and inside unless you have a big boat.  Some of the larger boats have been heading offshore on the nicer days and there have been a couple in the last week, but that isn't in the early long range forecast. 

Bluefins are still the big word in N.C. fishing and Morehead City is the place.  They aren't setting the world on fire, but a few are being caught along and that's a good thing.  I expect the water to cool a little more over the weekend and that could fire these tuna up and bring in some more. 

I've heard some chatter around from folks wanting to head out and chase bluefins on their small boat with marginal equipment and want to go on record saying this isn't a good idea.  These are big strong fish that deserve to be fought well so they can be in good condition to be released after the fight if that is the decision.  This is dangerous fishing too.  It requires strong lines, big reels and heavy rods and sometimes thing break violently. 

If you really want to tangle with a bluefin, it is wise to go with a seasoned crew.  They have the tackle, the permits, the lures and know where the fish were the previous day.  There are several charter boats on the Morehead City Waterfront and Atlantic Beach Causeway that are offering deals on bluefin trips.  The folks at any of the area tackle shops should be able to direct you to several of them.

While much of the Morehead City and Atlantic Beach big fish focus has switched to bluefins, There is good offshore fishing along the entire N.C. Coast.  Wahoo are biting strong and the smaller blackfin tuna from the early fall have been replaced with a bunch of citation size fish.  There are catches of scattered dolphin every week and while you don't always see release flags flying, there are still occasional encounters of the billfish kind.

Offshore bottom fish have been tearing it up.  They are much easier to feel and catch on calm days when baits aren't being jerked off the bottom by the rolling seas.  The bottom catch includes grouper, beeliners, triggerfish, black sea bass, porgys and grunts.  Sometimes a cruising amberjack or cobia tries to steal a bait on the way down or a fish on the way back up, so be prepared.

Whenever anchored and bottom fishing, it is always wise to drift a light line or two back in the current.  The usual bait is a frozen cigar minnow or a small grunt or porgy on a king mackerel style rig.  Light line catches might be just about anything including kings, wahoo, dolphin, amberjack, tuna, sharks and even billfish.  When the light line starts screaming, it's often a pleasant surprise.

King mackerel fishing remains good.  Most of it is done from center consoles, so the sea condition and temperature can eliminate a lot of days.  There are kings on many of the rocks and wrecks from about 80 feet or so on out.  The water cooled a few degrees again this week and they might be moving farther offshore to stay warm and with baitfish.  There have been good king reports from the entire N.C. Coast.  The two big keys for kings are water 67 degrees or warmer and lots of bait.

Nearshore ocean fishing is good also, weather permitting and the stretch from Beaufort Inlet to Cape Lookout is a hotspot.  False albacore schools are roaming the area and are usually ready to rumble.  There are speckled trout scattered along the Cape Lookout Jetty while gray trout are around the hole at the end of the jetty, the WWII submarine net anchors, and several spots along Shackleford Banks and inside the hook at Cape Lookout. 

Some puppy drum are also found in the surf along much of the coast, especially at the capes and around inlets.  There may be some black drum mixed with them and an occasional hungry flounder might move by.    

Inshore fishing is good at times, but can be iffy.  There are some excellent catches, but there are also some strikeouts.  The Morehead City Turning Basin and the channel out to Beaufort Inlet are good spots to try for gray trout and sea mullet and often also hold some hogfish, puffers, croakers or even a hungry late flounder or two.

There are big numbers of small speckled trout in many places and a few large speckled trout in a few places.  Most fishermen are working through a lot of specks to find a limit for dinner.  When you find a school, they will go through several dozen live shrimp very quickly.  They are also hitting soft plastics, especially the scented ones or those with scent added, and suspending hard lures fished slowly.

The red drum bite isn't as hot as anticipated, but has been improving some.  There are drum in many of the shallows and they have been eating pretty much the same baits as speckled trout.  The pups are usually shallower and up on the bars, while the specks hold a little deeper.

Stripers are biting in many of the upper sounds and coastal rivers.  The Neuse River is a hotspot, but stripers are also biting in the Tar/Pamlico, Roanoke, and Cape Fear.  There are occasionally some specks and pups mixed with the stripers, especially around the mouths of creeks.  The best action has been on soft plastics, but a few stripers are also hitting diving hard baits, especially around bridges and other deeper vertical structure. 

Wildlife Resources Offers Boater's Weather Course
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, in conjunction with the Fayetteville Power and Sail Squadron, is offering a boating-related weather workshop on Dec. 8 and 9, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville.  The course, Basic Weather and Forecasting, is designed for boaters who want to learn more about weather and forecasting and how to operate their vessels safely in all weather conditions.

Among the topics that will be covered in the two-night course are:  What causes weather; How weather systems move; Why winds blow; What clouds tell us; How storms and fronts create foul weather; Why fog forms; Where to get the best professional forecasts; How to refine them using your own observations.

Participants will receive a waterproof McGraw Hill Captain's Quick Guide – Onboard Weather Forecasting, which is designed for onboard and field use.  They also will receive a student guide with slide images and notes written especially for the seminar.  There is a $28 registration fee to cover the cost of the materials for the course.  Pre-registration online is required. For additional information about the seminars contact Carpenter at Thomas.carpenter@ncwildlife.org or 910-868-5003, ext. 15.  For more information about the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, or to see a schedule of upcoming events, visit www.ncwildlife.org and click on the "Learning" link.

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Black Sea Bass Trap Prohibition
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement for Regulatory Amendment 16 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 16).

On October 23, 2013, fishery managers implemented an annual prohibition on the use of black sea bass pots from November 1 through April 30 in the South Atlantic.  Regulatory Amendment 16 contains management measures to modify this prohibition in terms of area and time closed.  The regulatory amendment also contains management actions to require specific rope marking for black sea bass pot gear.  The purpose of the proposed actions is to reduce the adverse socioeconomic impacts from the prohibition while continuing to protect whales in the South Atlantic region.

Electronic copies of the draft amendment and environmental impact statement are available on the NOAA Fisheries Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2013/reg_am16/index.html or the e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0165

Comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2013-0165, may be submitted through December 7, 2015.  Comments may be submitted by:
* Electronic Submission - Go to: www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0165 and click on the "Comment Now!" icon, then complete the required fields and enter or attach your comments.
* MAIL: Submit written comments to Rick DeVictor - Southeast Regional Office, NMFS - 263 13th Avenue South - St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

 Fisheries Meetings
December 7 to 10:  Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Meeting, Annapolis, MD., December 7 at O’Callaghan Annapolis Hotel and December 8-10 at the Westin Annapolis, www.mafmc.org

December 7 to 11:  South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, Doubletree by Hilton Oceanfront, Atlantic Beach, www.safmc.net

December 8:  NC Marine Fisheries Commission Shellfish / Crustacean Advisory Committee Meeting, 5:30 P.M., Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office, Morehead City, Contact Trish Murphey or Anne Deaton at 252-808-8091 or 252-808-8063 or at Trish.Murphey@ncdenr.gov or Anne.Deaton@ncdenr.gov.

December 9:  NC Marine Fisheries Commission Southern Regional Advisory Committee Meeting, 5:30 P.M., Department of Environmental Quality Regional Office, Wilmington, Contact Trish Murphey at 252-808-8091 or Trish.Murphey@ncdenr.gov.

December 10:  NC Marine Fisheries Commission Northern Regional Advisory Committee Meeting, 5:30 P.M., Department of Environmental Quality Regional Office, Washington, Contact Katy West or Holly White at 252-946-6481 or 252-473-5734 or at Katy.West@ncdenr.gov or Holly.White@ncdenr.gov.

December 14:  NC Marine Fisheries Commission Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee Meeting, 1:30 P.M., Department of Environmental Quality Regional Office, Washington, Contact Anne Deaton or Katy West at 910-796-7215 or 252-946-6481 or Anne.Deaton@ncdenr.gov or Katy.West@ncdenr.gov.

December 14:  NC Marine Fisheries Commission  Coastal Recreational Fishing License Committee Meeting, 1:30 P.M., N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Central District Office, Morehead City, Contact Wayne Johannessen, 252-808-8004 or Wayne.Johannessen@ncdenr.gov.

December 17:  NC Marine Fisheries Commission Sea Turtle Advisory Committee Meeting, 4:00 P.M., Department of Environmental Quality Regional Office, Washington, Contact Chris Batsavage at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.

Tournaments, Seminars, Boat/Fishing/Outdoor Shows, and Other Events
Tournaments are completed for 2015, but a couple will be held in January 2016 and they will pick back up in earnest in the spring.  There will be events through the winter that will be of interest to fishermen and other sportsmen.

December 5 and 6:  Core Sound Decoy Festival, Harkers Island Elementary School, Harkers Island, www.decoyguild.com.

December 8 and 9:  Basic Weather and Forecasting Seminar, 6:30 to 9:00 P.M., John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, Fayetteville, www.ncwildlife.org/learning.  

Good Fishing
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver


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