Except for Thursday, the ocean conditions last week really weren't very good. Currently, we look to be in the middle of one of our typical NC December blows, but it may fall out by the weekend. The forecast for Friday is down to 10 to 15 knots and is the lightest wind since the previous Thursday. During these winter blows, the wind blows for days at a time and then falls out completely overnight. This gives a fantastic fishing day for those who are free to take advantage of it.
One thing we all need to keep in perspective is that we need to be safe while fishing. The water is getting colder and survival times in cold water are significantly less than when it is warm.
The bluefin tuna season finally opened last Wednesday, after being closed since before Thanksgiving. There were many commercial boats, part-time commercial boats and out-of-town commercial boats vying for the bluefins. This segment of the commercial season will close on December 20, while the recreational season remains open. The commercial season should reopen in January, but no dates have been announced. Recreational boats had been tag and release fishing during the closure.
Wrapped up in all the bluefin hullabaloo were two unfortunate folks who lost their lives. One, which made all the TV news programs and newspapers across the state, was a commercial fisherman from New Jersey who, for whatever reason, was fishing alone and became tangled in the line running to his landing dart and was pulled overboard by a tuna. The other was an angler, who suffered a major heart attack while reeling one in. Godspeed to both and my condolences to your families.
The current ocean conditions have muddied up the surf. There were some nice fish being caught from the surf and the few piers which are still open or have made access provisions. Unless the water cools dramatically, expect there to be some trout, drum and whiting biting when the surf calms and the water clears.
All along the coast there are some red drum scattered throughout the sounds, rivers and in the adjacent creeks and marshes. The sizes have been mixed, but many are 22 inches and longer.
I got out in these pups one afternoon last week and had a great time. I was the guest of Capt. Stuart Caulder (Gold Leader Charters of Wrightsville Beach) and he put us on the fish. We caught them on lures, grubs, and spinnerbaits. Yes, you did read that correctly-spinnerbaits.
The drum had also been pretty thick in the surf and around the inlets. Where driving is permitted on the beaches you can spot the sloughs at low tide and sometimes even see a red tint in the water around a large school. If you are in an area that doesn't allow beach driving, try motoring slowly along the beaches and looking from your boat.
Speckled trout are holding in many inside waters. This is definitely good, as it may be a while before the ocean calms enough to allow small boats safe passage to the favorite ocean spots.
There is some inshore and inlet action from gray trout. Once the ocean calms they should return to the nearshore rocks, wrecks and reefs.
False albacore are still around. The bluefin fishermen were often annoyed to have a 12 pound fat Alberts crash on their horse ballyhoo bluefin baits.
There weren't many reports on kings last week. I'm pretty sure they are still around, but between the rougher conditions and open bluefin season, not many fishermen were chasing kings.
The offshore action has been good whenever the weather allowed the trip. Yellowfin tuna are hot off the Outer Banks and wahoo remain the top catch elsewhere.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver