I hope you got your sunshine and warm weather fix in over the past several weeks. Actually it probably won't be that bad. We've been so warm since Christmas that seasonal weather seems cold. The temperatures are supposed to cool off pretty well over the weekend, but warm back into the 60's on Tuesday. There are some chances of rain and thundershowers as this front rolls through, but nothing out of the ordinary is in the current forecast.
The winds will breeze up as the front passes. Today and Friday should be reasonably calm days on the water, but Saturday and Sunday look rather blustery. The winds should begin calming Sunday night and be back below 10 knots for the warmer weather on Tuesday.
Those calming winds and warming temperatures are usually a sign of a slowly rising barometer. Early next week might be a good time to go wet a line.
The conversations regarding the effects of our lingering unusually warm weather continue whenever fishermen gather. Many credit the weather with the continued good trout and puppy drum bite, but say it has seriously delayed the arrival of the bluefin tuna.
There is some good news on the way. By the middle of this week there were some large schools of menhaden assembling just east of Cape Lookout Shoals. Now that dinner has finally been set on the table, maybe the bluefins and stripers will arrive to feast on them!
Most fishermen agree the schools of bait are what attract the stripers and bluefins to the Cape Lookout area during the winter. I didn't hear of a surge in their striper catches this week, but the bluefin activity certainly improved.
The bluefin bite hasn't yet gotten to the frenzy of many past winters, but over the past few mornings, the action has increased significantly. The hottest area has been in the general area between Big 10 Rock and the Knuckle Buoy. With the recent influx of bait east of the Cape Lookout Shoals, the bite may soon move over there. It should begin heating up also.
The striper bite continues to go pretty well from Hatteras Inlet and farther north up the Outer Banks. There hasn't been another record caught this week, but few fishermen would be really surprised if it happened. The Outer Banks winter striper fishery is good and appears to be improving a little about every year.
In the Cape Lookout area I have only heard of a few scattered stripers being caught over the past week. Perhaps the large schools of bait returning to the area will attract them again. While the water around Cape Lookout Shoals produces many striper catches, Capt. Dave Dietzler suggests also looking in the surf and just beyond, along Core Banks towards Drum Inlet and along Shackleford Banks.
With the warmer weather, the speckled trout bite has continued fairly well. Most of the reports are coming from the surf, with lots of good reports from the Cape Lookout Jetty. However, those fishermen, who were willing to put in some time to locate them, have been catching them in many inside locations, especially around Wrightsville Beach and Southport. The trout are getting larger too. Over the past week, many tackle shops have reported weighing in more citation size trout than for the past month or so.
The puppy drum are still in the marshes and biting well. One of the keys for locating them has been to look for shallower areas that are in sunlight all day. As warm as it has been for the past two weeks, you can often catch drum all day, but when the weather cools again that direct sunlight will warm them and get them more active and in a feeding mood.
There are also some drum in the surf, especially around the inlets, Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout. Some larger drum are still around also. This past week, there were several schools of larger drum cruising Diamond and Cape Lookout Shoals. They may also be at Frying Pan Shoals, off Cape Fear, but I haven't gotten a report from there.
Expect a few surprises also. Some grouper fishermen landed a cobia over 50 pounds earlier in the week. They were fishing east of Cape Lookout.
This weekend, the Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo will be at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This show runs from 10:00 AM Friday, through 5:00PM Sunday. The new exhibition hall is open at the state fairgrounds so this show should be larger than ever before. It will feature many booths with the latest in fishing tackle and equipment and numerous lines of fishing boats, plus many free seminars.
Along with many other knowledgeable fishermen, both fresh water and salt water, I will be hosting seminars all three days of the show. My subject will be live bait king mackerel fishing. A list of the seminars and their times is available at www.ncboatshows.com.