It may have been a little warmer last week, but the wind was still hanging around. The initial forecast was for the wind to fall out some, but it didn't last past Thursday. By Friday it was puffing pretty seriously again. This has basically continued, with Tuesday and Wednesday looking to be the best days this week and even they don't look to be totally calm.

The cold weather has affected us other than with the wind. The inland and ocean water temperatures have fallen from slightly above normal, a few weeks ago, to several degrees below normal. Captain Dave Deitzler reports it as 45 in his creek, 49 at the inlet, and 52 at Cape Lookout. Needless to say, the nearshore and surf fishing has slowed considerably.

Offshore, the fishing continues to be a little slow. The weather hasn't been the best for heading offshore anyway and most of the boats that would be comfortable for the trip have been fishing close in for bluefins. The offshore mixture includes some wahoo, a few dolphin, some yellowfin and blackfin tuna, and some scattered king mackerel.

Surf fishing has been slow and most of the piers are closed. The bright spot has been the stripers along the northern Outer banks to Ocracoke. There have also been a few speckled trout, red drum, and black drum scattered along the entire coast. If we have several days in a row of warmer sunny weather, it could stir up a little activity in the nearshore water.

Inshore, there are a few red drum and speckled trout. They aren't very active and the better fishermen suggest waiting until the afternoons, when the sun has shown on the water for a few hours. While live shrimp and green curltail grubs have been catching the trout well for a month or so, the colder water temperatures have seen the catches pick up some with Mirrolures. There are also some nice black drum in Davis Canal at Oak Island.

The wind blew much of last week and when it turned from the northeast it pushed some bait and bluefins back to the west side of Cape Lookout. There have been bluefins scattered from Hatteras to Morehead City. The crowds fishing for them should get smaller, as the General Category (commercial) quota was anticipated to be filled by Sunday and the General Category (commercial season) for the bluefins closed Sunday Night, December 15. Charter boats, head boats, and recreational fishermen with the proper Angling Category permits may continue to catch one bluefin per day between 47 and 72 inches and one per year over 73 inches. Visit www.nmfspermits.com for more information.

There have been continuing good reports of large ocean stripers all the way from the NC/Virginia State Line down to Ocracoke. Many fishermen prefer live eels, but plastic eels behind bucktails and deep-diving swimming plugs have both been producing well. Most of the stripers have been around 20-25 pounds, with a few fish pushing 40.

This will be the last "Fishing Forecast" report for the year. If something spectacular happens, I will post it on the "News Flash" page, but the fishing is really about set for the next few months. There will be some bluefins, some stripers, the occasional hot day for specks or reds, and the occasional good offshore trip. Really, it is not quite enough to keep the report going all winter.

We will start again sometime in the spring, once the fish start biting. During that lull, check out my articles and "High Tides and Tall Tales" column in North Carolina Sportsman Magazine and my "On The Line" column in each Friday's Carteret County News-Times Newspaper.

Also, clear your schedule to attend one of the North Carolina Sportsman 2003 Fishing Schools. There will be sessions on many freshwater, inshore saltwater, offshore saltwater, and related subjects. The dates are March 15, Charlotte; March 22, Greenville (NC); and April 5, Raleigh. For more information, pick up a copy of North Carolina Sportsman Magazine or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com.

I would like to wish all of you a very merry, happy, and safe Christmas Holiday season and my best wishes for a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year. If you've been good, maybe you will get that new rod and reel and even some good weather to try it out.

Good Fishing
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver


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