Well, most of us managed to sidestep Tropical Storm Ernesto, but there are some folks who didn't fare so well. Right along the coast we handled things pretty well, but just a little inland the creeks and rivers began backing up. In many places it looks more like the first few weeks after Hurricane Floyd than we ever though we would see again.
If you don't know, let me just say it ain't pretty. From Pender county, just inland of Wilmington, across Jones and Craven Counties and working to the northeast there is flooding. You might say it isn't major, but if that was your flooded house down that washed out road, it would be major. The rain is slowing and hopefully the water will subside quickly.
Tropical Storm Florence is in the picture now and is forecast to be Hurricane Florence by the time this is printed. Right now it looks like this one will stay well offshore, close to Bermuda, and our only evidence of its passing will be the waves that begin showing Sunday afternoon.
Hey surfers. The waves are coming and the wind will be offshore. Cowabunga dude. Time to visit the green room. It's gonna be rad.
The weekend weather doesn't look too bad. It will be cooler into Friday, then warm through the weekend and drying out. Friday and Saturday the winds will be northeast to north with gusting to 15 to 20 north of Cape Lookout and a little better along the southern coast. Sunday the winds will be northeast 10 to 15 along the entire coast, with the first swell from Florence arriving later in the day. Monday the winds should shift to the north and pick back up to 15 to 20, while the surf continues to build.
There hasn't been a lot of offshore fishing since last week's report, but the few reports have been good. The primary quarry offshore has been wahoo and there are some nice ones being caught. There are still lots of dolphin and one boat landed a big yellowfin tuna. Several reports mentioned sailfish between 14 Buoy and the 90 Foot Drop.
There had been good king mackerel reports throughout the area for several weeks, but many fishermen are concerned the fresh water pouring out all the inlets will force them offshore. This was the first time in a while there wasn't a king caught from one of the piers. Many king fishermen have been heading east of Cape Lookout and doing well. I don't know how easy it will be to get there this weekend for the Atlantic Beach tournament, but there should be some nice kings there,
Spanish mackerel have been biting from just beyond the surf line out to about 45 feet deep. This rainwater runoff will probably move them off of the beaches, but hopefully not too far.
As I said earlier, there wasn't a king caught from the piers this week, but fishermen at most piers have seen a pretty good run of puppy drum from the surf on out to the end of the pier. They were also catching a few flounder. There would probably be more to report from the piers if the weather had been nicer. It really isn't any fun standing out in squalls so strong you can't see both ends of the pier at the same time. The good news is the water temperature has dropped a few degrees.
Speaking of pier fishing, it appears the end is near for Sportsmans Pier. I received reports they sold some of the benches over Labor Day Weekend and told the fishermen they would close for good in late October.
Flounder fishing is the bright spot for this week. They aren't everywhere, but there are enough around you should find some to catch. In inside waters they like to hide on the edge of structure and current, which allows them to spring off the bottom and attack. If it isn't too choppy, some of excellent flounder catches are coming from the nearshore ocean artificial reefs and live bottom areas. The baitfish gather around the shelter of the reefs and the flounder lie just off of them, waiting in ambush.
I spoke with Capt. George Beckwith Wednesday afternoon and he said the large drum fishing in Pamlico Sound was going well. He said they had been rained on a few times, but the drum had been very cooperative.
The rainwater runoff from Tropical Storm Ernesto may signal the end of the tarpon for the year in Pamlico Sound. They prefer warmer water and a few degrees of cooling will often get them started moving back down south. If the water doesn't cool too quickly, there may be another run of them along the east beach of Bald Head Island as they head back down the coast.
Until this summer I can't remember hearing from fishermen who said they switched off to red drum to save a fishing trip. Most of the time it has been when choppy conditions forced a smaller boat back inside the inlets, but several times it was because they couldn't get other fish to bite.
Our red drum management plan appears to be working. Let's hope the fishery managers don't try to amend it too quickly and send us back to the days of 10 years ago, when simply catching a drum was cause for a celebration. This year, especially in the past several weeks, I have heard some of the best reports of red drum in many years.
The speckled trout have been biting pretty well, especially considering how warm the water is right now. They should be even easier to find as our current full-moon high tides and the rainwater runoff combine to flush shrimp from their hiding places up in the shallows of the marsh.
Congratulations to Tat Fearing and the crew of the Jack Pot. They caught a 35 pound king to win the Carteret County Sportfishing Association King Mackerel Tournament last weekend. The tournament was delayed one day to allow the ocean to settle a little more after Tropical Storm Ernesto passed by.
This weekend's tournaments are the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament (www.abkmt.com or 1-800-545-3940) in Atlantic Beach, the Hatteras Village Surf Fishing Tournament (www.hatterasonmymind.com or 252-986-2579) in Hatteras Village, and the Wildlife Bait and Tackle Flounder Tournament (910-457-9903) in Southport.