While Easter Weekend didn't have quite the fishing report that many were expecting, it wasn't awful either. The truth is, that it was really rather good. Just those people, who had been hearing about the super yellowfin tuna bite and had come to the coast to take advantage of it, were disappointed not to be stocking their freezers with tuna steaks. Well, plenty of other fish bit pretty well, so it should be hard to be real disappointed.
The weather was warm enough, reaching into the 70's, with mild overnight lows, and the rain mostly held off until Monday. The forecast for this week has the wind staying pretty gusty through Wednesday, then becoming better on Thursday and even nicer on Friday. The long range wind forecast wasn't yet posted as I wrote this, but hopefully it will be a calm weekend also.
With the exception of around Cape Hatteras, it seems the tuna took the weekend off. There were a few tuna caught south of that area, but not anything like it had been for the past few weeks. This should just be a dip in the catches, with the tuna season continuing strong for another month or so.
Replacing the tuna in many offshore catches were lots of king mackerel, some wahoo, and good numbers of smaller dolphin. The forecast was a little off and the ocean was rougher than predicted, but most folks caught some fish and that helped make the long ride in and out easier to handle.
I made a trip myself to the Blackjack Hole on Friday and caught a nice wahoo and several dolphin. The fellows I fished with went back on Saturday and caught two yellowfins. We fished a shrinking warm water upwelling on Friday, that they said had totally disappeared by Saturday.
Smaller king mackerel have been spread along most of the coast for a while now. This weekend the numbers jumped significantly. While they were caught in many places, the bite was strong just east of Frying Pan Tower, off Cape Fear, between 14 Buoy and the Big Rock, off Cape Lookout, and around the wrecks off the end of Diamond Shoals, at Cape Hatteras. One citation king was weighed at Hatteras Harbor Marina, so they aren't all small kings either.
This hot king bite should get better and move inshore over the next few weeks, as the water slowly warms and moves inshore. These early kings are hitting a variety of spoons, lures, and frozen cigar minnows.
False albacore were caught from the NC/SC State Line up to about Drum Inlet. They came close enough to the beach to terrorize the pluggers at several piers, but most were a couple of miles offshore.
The Atlantic bonito made a short appearance off Wrightsville Beach and Ocean Isle late last week, but disappeared over the weekend. They were mixed in with the false albacore. Several experienced charter captains have said that when they return, which could be as early as this week, they should be around in good numbers and with big appetites.
Most of the ocean piers have reported sporadic to good catches of fish. Sea mullet (whiting) continue to be the most reliable catch. They will bite during the daytime, but fishing at night, with fresh shrimp, has been the most productive. The rest of the pier catch includes puffers, bluefish, gray trout, false albacore, and a variety of small sharks.
Other inshore and nearshore reports include some growing gray trout catches, both in the ocean and some inside waters, plus a few speckled trout, and some scattered red drum. This weekend was the first consistent catch of big red drum in the surf at Cape Hatteras. The smaller red drum are getting active and feeding in many of the sounds and marshes.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver