Except for being really windy Friday and slightly windy Saturday, last weekend was a glimpse of the weather we have been seeking for a while and are looking for over the coming weeks. Sunday and Monday were excellent fishing days and many boats produced a lot of fish. The forecast for this weekend is pretty blustery and stormy on Friday, but has the weather settling out for good days on Saturday through Monday.
The warm temperatures returned this week and have been very welcome. They are forecast to move to hot for several days in the middle of the coming week. As you put the rods, bait and lunch on your boat, be sure to remember the sunscreen. If you don't remember to use it, you will be sorely reminded (pun intended) for the next several days that you should have.
We've been watching a strong weather system move across the country for the past few days, but it now appears the brunt of it will pass inland. I sure don't want to see the tornadoes this system spawned in Texas, but we could use a good soaking rain. Whatever we get should move through from Thursday night to Friday night and leave us with the remainder of a good weekend for fishing.
I went on my first offshore trip last Sunday off Cape Fear, but it wasn't quite what we had hoped. We caught a few shingle dolphin and missed a few more. We began near the Steeples and found a nice edge, with a four degree temperature break, but there weren't any flying fish and we never saw a tuna.
By early afternoon, we formulated a new plan and moved back inshore a little to catch some bottom fish. This was successful and we boated a good mix of pinkies, beeliners, black sea bass and some big grunts. It sure beat a day of sitting in front of the TV or computer.
The tuna bite was on off Cape Lookout all weekend and continued into the week. The expectations are for it to be hot again this weekend. Several boats reported pulling off the tuna bite on Saturday as they were fishing in the Calcutta Wahoo Challenge. On Sunday, Capt. Brian Harrington and the Run Off crew boated 15 yellowfins and a mixture of wahoo and dolphin. I've been trying to get out with Brian for a while and our schedules haven't matched--maybe this week?
There was a red hot king mackerel bite this week just offshore of Frying Pan Tower. The bite was hot on Saturday, then lukewarm on Sunday, but fired back off on Monday and the good reports continued through the week. A few kings were also caught at the general area of 240 Rock, 210 Rock, West Rock and AR 305 off Cape Lookout, but the offshore bite was so good many of the fishermen traveling this far continued on to the Gulf Stream. There were also a few kings included in the mid-week tuna bite off Hatteras.
As I mentioned earlier, the offshore bottom fishing has been very good. The catches have included grouper, beeliners, black sea bass, red snapper, pinkies (red porgy), porgies, triggerfish, tilefish and a few hog snapper.
There were a few more reports of false albacore and Atlantic bonito this week. The fat Alberts are scattered along the entire coast and mixed with other species offshore. The better reports of bonito have been from Wrightsville Beach to Sneads Ferry.
Fishermen aren't the only thing chasing these bonito. There have been numerous sightings and hookups with bluefin tuna that were feeding on the bonito. The bluefin reports almost always ended with broken lines as the fishermen weren't prepared and had tackle that was too light.
Several very good catches of flounder came from the nearshore artificial reefs this week.
The large swells from the front last weekend stirred up the surf along along much of the coast, but it is settling out well. Unfortunately there hasn't been a lot of surf or pier action this week. The fish should return as the water clears. The surf fishermen had caught a few larger drum by mid-week, but they were mostly finding a few bluefish, sea mullet, black drum, skates and sharks.
The reports from the piers have been slow, but improving. Wally from the Sheraton Pier called to report they had some nice bluefish and some sea mullet in assorted sizes. A few blowfish were also being caught along the beaches. Expectations are high for more flounder, drum and trout and croakers as the water clears. Earlier in the week, the surf temperature at Bogue Inlet Pier was 64 degrees.
Those fishermen working the creeks and marshes continue to catch red drum and speckled trout. They are also catching a few flounder.
The strong sea mullet bit well again in the Morehead City Turning Basin this week. The sizes were mixed but there were some nice ones in most catches. There were also some gray trout and croakers being caught in the Turning Basin and along the edges of the channel out to Beaufort Inlet. Jigging Stingsilvers and speck rigs have been best approach. There were also lots of bluefish in Beaufort Inlet.
Congratulations to Capt. Mike Taylor and the Weldor's Ark crew for winning the Calcutta Wahoo Challenge in Morehead City last weekend. Their winning fish weighed 51 pounds. This is the third win for the Weldor's Ark in this tournament.