We have some of the best weather of the spring for about a week now. It has been a bit windy at times, but makeable for the small boats, if they take their time. The larger boats are running daily and even on days that it is bumpy on the way out, it is not a bad ride back in. After the cold snap of last week the sun and heat has gotten us back to about where we should be in both water and air temperatures. The water temperatures are rising and the fishing should continue to improve. There were reports of inshore temperatures at 70 in the last few days and this should make those fish much more active. By next time this week it will be May and the fishing should be good. Remember the closure for ocean-caught flounder from May 1 to May 14. Whether you agree with the reasoning or not, it isn't worth a ticket.
Inshore fishing has been a bit irregular along the NC coast. There are some reports of gray trout and sea mullet (whiting), which should continue to improve as the water warms. The warmer water is moving the red drum out of the small creeks and into some larger waters. Keep a sharp eye out for spotted tails along marsh edges, oyster bars, and grassy flats.
In the central part of the state, the large trout have slowed down. There have been some scattered smaller trout and puppy drum. Farther to the north, around Manteo and Manns Harbor, there have been enough hungry stripers around to keep fishermen smiling. Favorite spots have been around the bridges. Speaking of stripers, the annual run up the Roanoke River is moving into high gear. The next several weeks in the Weldon area, should produce many fishing days that are the stuff a fisherman's dreams are made of. If you head to Weldon, expect long waits in the line for the launching ramp.
Surf and Pier
With the wind blowing from the southwest again, the pier fishing is getting better. To the best of my knowledge, all of the piers are open. Sea mullet (whiting), bluefish, the occasional gray or speckled trout, a few black and red drum, spots, blowfish, sharks, and chinese flounder (skates) are making up the bulk of the catch. A few smaller spanish mackerel have already been caught and more should be arriving almost daily. With the heat of the past week, improvements could come rapidly.
Congratulations to Mickey Gaither of Statesville. On April 14, he went fishing for spots on Long Beach Pier (Oak Island) and caught a 66 pound black drum. His little spinning outfit, 12 pound line, size 6 gold hooks, and fresh shrimp were the right stuff. I saw the hook and it was bent badly. Only a few more minutes and it would have been an unintentional release.
It is time for the spring run of very large kings to hit the piers off Oak Island. In the past this has happened between the third weekend in April and Mother's Day. Two kings over 53 pounds have been caught during this blitz. When it happens, it is fast and furious for a few days. Get ready, it could be 3 days or 10 days but it's time right now.
There have been lots of bluefish and scattered sea mullet around most of the inshore artificial reefs for a few weeks. Gray trout should be showing at any time. Some Atlantic bonito have shown from Brunswick County to Cape Lookout. Learn to tell these tasty critters from false albacore (little tunny) and you are in for a real treat.
The kings have been biting well in water around 100 feet deep. Frying Pan Tower is a hotspot that is a little shallower than this, but its location, at the end of Frying Pan Shoals, generally makes it fish as though it were significantly deeper. Bottom bouncers also did well with sea bass, grunts, and a few grouper. Similar king and bottomfish bites are happening off Morehead City and Hatteras. The kings are mostly small fish except around Frying Pan Tower, where several fish in the mid-20's have been caught. The big kings that were off Hatteras for the past few weeks appear to have moved on.
Tuna are being caught all along the NC Coast. The bluefins are gone for the year and most are yellowfins and blackfins The yellowfins are mostly 20 to 40 pounders but enough over 60 pounds are around to keep things interesting. Several yellowfins around 100 pounds have been caught off Hatteras. More wahoo, some dolphin, and several billfish have been in the recent offshore mix and their numbers should continue to increase.