Well, our shot of cool weather last weekend and earlier this week wasn't all that bad. There were a couple of cool nights, but we had some sun every day and the water didn't cool off. Now the temperatures are climbing again and we are looking at another sunny weekend.
It looks like we will see some more wind this weekend. It isn't a gale warning, but the winds will be gusty through today and then falling out some into Saturday and Sunday. The winds are forecast to be lighter Saturday, but with a 5-6 foot swell left over from Friday's blow. Sunday the winds are a little stronger, but with less swell. Then the wind is supposed to get back up to around 20 on Monday. This is the forecast for the Outer Banks through Morehead City. It is just a little better for the southern N.C. coast.
There is a front moving across the middle of the country and it is supposed to stall and dissipate before it gets here. If it stalls early, we could have much better weather than the forecast. I believe I'll think positive and hope for the best. I'm busy Saturday, but hope to go fishing Sunday. The winds will determine if I head offshore or stay close.
A few boats got offshore this week and found the tuna and wahoo were still there. Some of the best reports came from off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet, plus down around the Swansboro Hole. The fishermen were reporting the tuna were just inside the first band of water in the 70's. This is blended water, with a bluish-green color, not the dark blue water of the Gulf Stream.
This is just a little early for the offshore fishing to get real good, but if the fish stay around and we keep getting good weather windows, we should be getting out and catching them.
The other exceptional fishing of the past week was for red drum. Many fishermen reported smaller schools of them scattered along Bogue and Shackleford Banks, but a real hotspot was Bogue Inlet. There were several reports of catching (and releasing) drum until your arms got too tired to fish. Some of the reports mentioned numbers over 100 and schools of drum well into the hundreds. There were several times the fish were right up in the breakers and more easily reached by wading the surf, than from a boat.
The numbers were similar, but slightly less for several days along the Outer Banks. The hot spot was at Cape Point at Buxton.
There are also fair numbers of puppy drum in many of the creeks and marshes from Pamlico Sound to the south. I got out for a few hours one afternoon and managed to catch a couple myself. Many fishermen are reporting seeing small pods of drum and casting to them. Good spots to look are along the oyster bars and edges of the grass, near deeper water.
One of the drum I caught this week had recently barely escaped becoming dinner for a dolphin. Its dorsal fin had a chunk missing and the wound was fresh. At first I thought it might be a net injury, but there weren't any net marks on the fish and other fish in the area were acting really spooky.
The speckled trout bite continues to plug along for most of the coast. One of the most consistent spots all winter has been the Cape Lookout jetty. Several fishermen have reported the water temperature rising into the high 50's in several places and the fish getting more active. The hot baits for both the drum and specks have been MirrOlures and Berkley Gulp grubs and shrimp.
While the season ticket holder have keys to the gates and are using them to get on the piers and catch drum and trout, the piers aren't open yet. At least two of them won't reopen this year. The heavy equipment is already at work dismantling the Triple S Pier in Atlantic Beach and Long Beach Pier in Oak Island. Another rumor says Sportsmans Pier is not selling season passes and may only be open for part of the season.
Several fishermen reported hot king bites last weekend. This has been pretty consistent all winter once you reached 65 to 67 degree water and some structure that was holding bait. The general areas have been the rocks, reefs and wrecks offshore of 14 Buoy and around Frying Pan Light Tower. Frozen cigar minnows were the bait of choice.
Good striper and shad reports continue to come from the Neuse River around New Bern, with good shad reports continuing upstream in the Neuse to Kinston and in the Pamlico-Tar River around Washington and Greenville. Stripers are moving in the Roanoke and have been reported from Manns Harbor to Jamesville.
The North Carolina Sportsman Magazine 2006 Fishing Schools Series will be in Holly Springs (Raleigh area) this Saturday, March 11. There will also be another of these events next weekend in Greenville on Saturday, March 18. Call 1-800-538-4355 or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com for more information.