Once again we had a mid-week blow, but this time we got a pretty good shot of cold air with it. Even though the temperatures have dropped, the sun has been out and the water temperature hasn't dropped off much.
There is good news as the temperatures are forecast to begin climbing back into the high 50's and low 60's over the weekend and into next week. I know it is supposed to be winter, but I have been getting outside and enjoying the warmer temperatures and sunshine quite a bit. Some of the fish are liking it too.
The bluefin tuna bite off Southport continued into this week. At first glance the bite looks sporadic and disorganized, but that may not really be the case. Several fishermen say the fish are definitely there, but the smaller numbers of boats don't cover as much water looking for them and on some days they may be in a location where no one was fishing. Bluefin catches have been reported around the Cucumber, Fairway Buoy, Knuckle Buoy, Raritan Wreck, Horseshoe, Frying Pan Tower, Radar Buoy and even one form near Lighthouse Rock.
Those same fishermen say the bluefin are in the area because of the abundance of food. They reported marking lots of suspended bait and seeing a bunch of birds diving, even to the extent of a few "gannet showers" in places.
Fishermen off Cape Lookout say there are a few schools of menhaden in that area and they are growing in both size and number. Their hope is these schools of bait will keep growing and the bluefins and stripers will soon find them.
The striper bite remains strong off the Outer Banks. Surf fishermen are complaining the stripers are staying just outside of their range, but some unusually good winter red drum fishing and a few bluefish blitzes are acting as substitutes. Boaters are doing well with stripers from both Oregon and Hatteras Inlets. Check for the latest locations before you launch as these fish have big appetites and tails and will quickly move away from areas without any baitfish.
I got a little bit of a Cape Lookout striper report this week, but it wasn't great. A few had been caught in the Dead Tree Hole, near the Cape Lookout rock jetty, along Cape Lookout Shoals and up Core Banks towards Drum Inlet and Ocracoke. Capt. Dave Dietzler said there are a few more stripers along Core Banks, but there weren't many people heading up there looking for them.
Once again there weren't a lot of speckled trout reports, probably due mainly to the weather condition, but several fishermen have seen some excellent catches. The speck bite has been better along the beaches and at the Cape Lookout jetty, so it has become very dependent on having decent sea conditions. Capt. Jeff Cronk, of Swansboro, had several good trips over last weekend and early this week, with numerous citation trout--including several over six pounds.
The wind and cold temperatures shouldn't have been enough to run the puppy drum out of the area creeks and marshes. Give them a few days of direct sunlight and they should be moving about some and feeding.
There has been a good drum bite in the surf this week at Ocracoke and Cape Hatteras. Most were smaller to slot size fish, but several larger drum were also landed. Something similar is probably happening at Cape Lookout and along Core Banks, but with the ferries closed and all the vehicles off the island, there aren't many fishermen out fishing for them.
There are two boat shows in North Carolina this weekend. One is primarily a larger boat show and is in Raleigh, with the other in Williamston. The Raleigh Convention Center Boat Show has been relocated to a large warehouse at 900 Aviation Parkway, which is across I-40 (exit 285 on I-40) from RDU Airport. The Eastern Carolina Boat Show will be at the Martin Agri-Expo Center in Williamston.
Next weekend the Greensboro Coliseum complex will host the Greensboro Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo. There will be displays and sales of the latest tackle and boats, plus several area anglers, including myself, will be there presenting seminars.