Our warm winter gave up a little beginning last weekend and we had sleet on Monday morning. Now, after crawling back up to seasonable temperatures during the latter week, we are looking at another drop over the weekend and into early next week. It puzzles me the weather could be so nice for so long and now, when it typically begins getting better, hits us with the worst weather of the winter to date.
There weren't a lot of folks fishing this week and there weren't a lot of reports. Some of the reports are promising, even really good, but others are more typical for the winter. Perhaps a few weeks of real winter weather will have us appreciating the spring weather more when it arrives to stay.
The weekend and early next week are forecast to be at least uncomfortably windy. There is a break in the wind forecast for Friday night and Saturday morning, but as we all know, winter weather can speed up, slow down or quickly change altogether. The wind looks to be building into the 20's after the lull and holding for a few days.
I didn't hear any bluefin tuna reports this week. I don't think they are totally gone, I just believe no one is seriously fishing for them. There probably are a few scattered along the entire coast. There certainly hasn't been a real concentration anywhere this year.
I didn't hear of any offshore trips this week, but there have been some fish caught over the past few weeks. The offshore catches have been a mixture of wahoo, school yellowfin tuna, a few blackfin tuna, plus even a couple of dolphin and kings.
The weather has been making it difficult to plan and get there, but there has been a pretty consistent king mackerel bite 30 to 40 miles offshore. There are some kings off Hatteras, offshore of 14 Buoy at Cape Lookout and over around the Papoose and Naeco, but the best concentration has been down south, closer to Frying Pan Light Tower.
The only stripers I heard of this week are from Hatteras north and in the rivers. There have been pretty good reports of stripers from the Neuse River around New Bern. Most of these have been smaller fish, ranging from shorts to barely legal fish, but they have been willing biters and there are enough larger ones mixed in to keep your attention. There has also been a very consistent inshore bite around Manns Harbor.
It isn't on fire and the crowd has definitely dwindled, but the speckled trout bite continues to plug along at the Cape Lookout jetty, the jetties at Cape Hatteras and the jetties at Masonboro Inlet. Is there a common thread there? Mud minnows, MirrOlures and soft plastics are all producing a few fish.
There are also some puppy drum being caught in the surf along much of the coast this week. Some days they are so close to shore it is easier to fish from the beach. There are also scattered pods of red drum in most creeks and marshes.
The reports from inland have the shad fishing picking up in the Neuse River and many creeks along it. If you drive through Kinston, the parking lot at the Neuse River boat ramp beside Highway 70 is full of trucks without trailers. That is usually a good sign the shad are biting under the Highway 70 Bridge.
I have just returned from a sailfishing trip to Guatemala, with Capt. Mike Webb of Pelagic Sportfishing in Atlantic Beach. Capt. Webb's charter service there is from a 26 foot panga and you get up close and personal with those big Pacific sailfish. The fishing started off incredible and slowly eased back to merely being good. The 85 degree sunshine was a good break from winter also. If you see me and have a few hours to spare, ask me about my mid-winter sunburn.
The only N.C. boat show this weekend is the Central Carolina Boat Show, at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex in Greensboro. Next weekend is the Dixie Deer Classic at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh and the Eastern Carolina Boat Show at Overton's in Greenville.
The North Carolina Sportsman Magazine 2006 Fishing Schools Series begins this Saturday in North Myrtle Beach. The other events will be in Holly Springs (Raleigh area) on March 11 and in Greenville on March 18. Call 1-800-538-4355 or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com for more information.