Continuing in a weather pattern that has held for a while, over the last week we had a fair bit of chop on the east facing beaches and once you got offshore, but, on the south facing beaches, the nearshore waters were pretty decent for the first few miles. Friday, the sea was stiff enough that a tournament was postponed, but the weather did moderate enough to get it in on Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, that northern wind has breezed back up in the last few days and has been a bit bumpy. Continuing along the bad weather front, another weather system is supposed to roll through in the next day or two and could leave us with another sloppy weekend.
Some good news is that the cooler temperatures have gotten the water temperatures to drop some. We are pretty rapidly approaching water temperatures that are near normal. Early in the week, Bogue Inlet Pier reported the water at 69 degrees, while Capt. Dave Deitzler marked it at 67 degrees in the creeks and 70 in Beaufort Inlet. As the water cools, the fishing should heat up even more.
When the boats can get offshore, the wahoo bite continues to be really good. There aren't as many as a few weeks ago, but there are still some late season sailfish being caught. More and more yellowfin tuna are being caught, while blackfin tuna surprise the fishermen a little closer to the beach. There are still some excellent catches of dolphin also. The Gulf Stream trip is shortest from Hatteras, but even they would prefer a little less wind. Less wind would certainly make offshore fishing easier and many fishermen think it would make it better also.
While this past weekend didn't show it too well, king mackerel fishing continues to be red hot. For the past few weeks the kings have been around in numbers and with good appetites. There have been good reports from Oregon Inlet to the NC/SC State Line. With the cooling water, the larger concentrations of kings have moved just a little farther off the beach, but there are still some around the inlets and nearshore structure also. I have had two calls this morning from different ends of the state about king mackerel. One said that the bite was exceptionally strong a few miles off Ocracoke, and the other said that yesterday's bite at the Shark Hole, off Southport, was the best they had seen in several years.
Congratulations to Al Morris and the crew of the Sea Drag'n. They claimed the win in the weekend's Coral Bay Open King Mackerel Tournament, with a 31.86 pound king. To claim the win, they overcame far less than perfect conditions, scattered fish, and a host of Southern Kingfish Association pros that were in town and fished the event. On the other end of the state, Darrell Garrett and the crew of the Sea Happy brought a 38.50 pounder to the scales to top the HOOK King Mackerel Tournament.
The spots have to be running. Every pier I passed over the weekend was full of fishermen and the inside favorite spot holes were lined wall to wall. Pier fishing all along the NC coast has been really good for the past week or so and should get better for another couple of weeks. In addition to the spots, there are sea mullet, gray trout, speckled trout, flounder, red drum, black drum, bluefish, plus a few Spanish mackerel, and king mackerel. Several pier and tackle shop owners are very optimistic and say that the big schools of the large yellow-belly spots are still to come.
Red drum continue to bite well from the marshes into the nearshore ocean. Speckled trout are getting more aggressive with the cooling water and the bite is picking up. More sea mullet and gray trout are showing up each day. They are biting along the edges of both the Morehead City and Southport ship channels, plus numerous ocean locations.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver