Last week I led into this column talking about the difference a week makes. In the previous week, I had a quote from a gentleman who was hoping for some rain like one of the hurricanes, without the damage. Then I continued with how Tropical Storm Edouard had formed off the east coast of Florida over the weekend and appeared to be headed right at us. Well as we all know, Edouard turned around and crashed back into Florida last week.
At the time that Tropical Storm Edouard was stalling and then returning toward Florida, our weather became real nice and looked like an excellent forecast heading into the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament. Then as the weekend drew closer, the weather deteriorated and the tournament was held in building sea conditions on Friday and nasty sea conditions on Saturday. Now we have Subtropical Storm Gustav that may actually have reached us by the time you read this. The forecasts for Gustav vary some, with some showing it as a weak storm passing offshore, while others have it substantially stronger and much closer to brushing the NC Coast. Isn't it amazing the difference a week makes?
Because of the adverse weather, there really isn't much fishing activity to report other than some inshore action and the action from the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament. Some of the larger boats did head offshore, but found the trip uncomfortable and not very productive. A few dolphin, some wahoo, a few king mackerel, and some tuna along the northern coast, were the highlights from the offshore waters. Congratulations are in order for Glenn Avery and the crew of the Big Boy, who caught the big girl of the tournament. Their 48.55 pound king was worth over $1,200 per pound.
At first glance, it appears that the king mackerel bite continued to slowly improve, but that might not actually be the case. There were over 500 tournament boats plying the waters from Hatteras to Wilmington and only 4 kings over 40 pounds were caught. There were roughly another dozen kings over 30 pounds and then the weights fell into the 20's. The big kings were scattered from about 80 feet of water right on in to the beach. The best reports came from those folks who ventured east of Cape Lookout, with the waters between Beaufort Inlet and Cape Lookout producing second best.
While Friday wasn't particularly bad, the sea built some more overnight and the slough across Cape Lookout Shoals was treacherous in the conditions. With the shoaling between Atlantic and Drum Inlet and the complete changing of the inlet, only a few boats were confident enough to use Drum Inlet. Even then, there were several crews that found themselves standing in ankle deep water trying to push their boats off the sandbars.
Reports from the Pamlico Sound say that the weather and rain have not affected the great tarpon and red drum fishing. Smaller drum and trout are being caught around the edges of the sound during the day, while big drum have been fairly numerous during the evening hours.
Puppy drum continue to be the most consistently caught fish in inside waters. They are striking flies, surface baits, soft plastics, chunks of natural baits, and live minnows or shrimp. There are still good numbers of flounder and the speckled trout are getting more active in the cooling water and cooler mornings and evenings. Surface lures, retrieved from the bank out, are drawing savage strikes.
Hopefully after the weather settles back down a bit, the fishing will return to a mode that is closer normal for this time of year.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver