After we got through last weekend, the weather started to cool down again. It looks to be cool until at least next week, but is threatening some high 60's or maybe even low 70's around the middle of the week.
Along with the cold came a bunch of wind. As I am writing this, a low pressure cell is forming just off the coast and the wind is building into a gale.
The low should pass and the wind fall out by Friday night. Saturday's wind looks to be the lightest since last Saturday. Hopefully the swell leftover from Friday's gale isn't too large or falls out quickly.
Look for a variety of winds this weekend also. With the low moving by they will come from all directions, hence the erratic warming and cooling, and at a wide range of intensity. When the winds are more southerly, the temperatures will rise, while they drop with northerly
Earlier in the day, I was checking out the National Weather Service and see that Tropical Depression Epsilon has been downgraded from a hurricane and is forecast to fizzle out by the weekend. I can hardly believe it is December 8 and I am still viewing hurricane activity. While it certainly isn't something to celebrate, this has been a record season for storms, with Epsilon being the 26th named one. We went completely through our alphabet and used 5 letters from the Greek alphabet.
A couple of bluefin tuna were caught over the weekend off Cape Lookout and a fair bite of them turned on Wednesday. There was even a good handful large enough for the commercial market. A couple were caught between the Trawler Buoy and the Knuckle, west of the shoals and others around D-wreck and Drum Inlet on the east side. I hope this is the arrival of one of the larger schools as we have been waiting for them for several weeks already.
Weather has seriously handicapped the king fishing. There are still some kings almost everywhere, but they are a fair ways offshore. The key is to find water temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's. The better action has been around the rocks, wrecks, and reefs between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras and around Frying Pan Tower. Again—finding the warmer water is the main key.
The winds were stiff most of last week, but a few fishermen are catching fat alberts in the lee of Cape Lookout. The water there clears on a north or northeast wind and the false albacore bite improves. The best action is still off Cape Lookout, out towards the Trawler Buoy.
Many of the ocean piers are closed, but there are still some occasional good catches coming from them. The best action is with speckled trout, gray trout, sea mullet and red drum. It would be wise to call in advance to be sure your favorite pier is still open. Some allow free access after closing and some lock up, but give keys to season pass holders.
The speckled trout bite is going off right now. There are still a fair amount of undersize specks being caught, but some really nice ones are in the mix also. The water temperatures are dropping and several Carolina speck specialists say the bite will be getting even better.
As it is, there are still specks holding in many inshore places. There is also a pretty good bite happening in the surf. As the water continues to cool, more specks should be arriving in the surf and that bite getting better also. Soon it will be the time of year when the Cape Lookout Jetty earns its reputation as the winter speck hotspot.
The speckled trout still prefer live shrimp to any other bait. If you can't find them to catch yourself, many tackle shops are stocking them. Live mullet minnows are a reasonable second choice, with hard and soft plastics next in line.
Our red drum fishing continues to be pretty good also. There are lots of smaller and medium size drum spread from the marshes to the surf. The surf fishermen, especially along the Outer Banks, have been catching a few larger drum.
The southern spot for larger red drum is the area between Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and Cape Fear. Vehicles aren't allowed here, so the best access is by boat through the creeks behind Bald Head Island and then walking across the dunes.
There are some improving striper catches from the Virginia state line down to roughly Cape Hatteras. Capt. Dave Dietzler also reported hearing of a few striper catches from the surf along Core and Shackleford Banks. He and I are looking for a weather window next week, to give them a try on Cape Lookout Shoals.
The offshore boats aren't running regularly, but are finding some fish when the weather allows the trip. The wahoo bite has been good and a few tuna are being caught from roughly the Big Rock to the south. From Hatteras to the north, there is a good yellowfin tuna bite, with a few bigeyes mixed in.