We got a little break of calm winds, but they are tuning back up for this weekend. The NOAA Weather forecast has a small craft advisory through Sunday afternoon for Cape Lookout northward and gusty winds for the rest of the coast during that time. There are even some chances of showers. With some of the deluges this week, maybe we are about to get caught back up on our rainfall.
Even with the thunderstorms, out weather has remained basically warm and that's a good thing. Since last week, the surf temperature has climbed to 68 degrees. We're almost at that magic 70 degree mark and lots of fish are arriving every day.
After giving a windy forecast for the weekend, I hate to start with the offshore segment of the report, but it's been good when the weather allows getting out. Wahoo and dolphin remain the major part of the catches. The dolphin fill the numbers and the wahoo give the thrills.
The yellowfin tuna still haven't put in the appearance everyone was hoping for. The bite is reasonable north of Hatteras, but south of Cape Hatteras only a few have been caught and the bite hasn't grown significantly. The main tuna being caught by offshore anglers south of Hatteras is blackfin.
There have also been some growing reports of billfish. Several sailfish releases were reported and a few blue marlin have been caught also. The timing could be good for the Hatteras Village Offshore Open tournament next week and the Swansboro Bluewater Memorial Day Tournament on Memorial Day weekend.
Offshore bottom fishing remains pretty good. There have been good catches of black sea bass, beeliners, grouper and grunts. The big hump-headed spawning sea bass are all about gone, but a few are still being caught.
The warming water is a good sign for king anglers. As the water warms, the schools of baitfish appear in nearshore areas and the kings usually aren't far behind. The kings really aren't on the beach yet, but one 35 pounder was caught at Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island last week. The Rebel Pier King Tournament began the next day and 57 fishermen didn't land a king in three days. Kings have been feeding well and have been hitting a wide variety of baits. Finding them has been the issue.
The bonito bite that was so hot at Divers Rock last week has spread out. There have been bonito caught from Carolina Beach to Ocracoke. They haven't really been anywhere by Divers Rock in their usual numbers, but there have been enough around to fish specifically for them. Small spoons and jigs have been the hot lures for bonito.
With Spanish mackerel being caught from the piers, more boat fishermen are bringing their boats out of the garage to make a trip along the beaches. Clarkspoons in size 0 and 00, in a variety of colors are a local favorite lure for trolling for Spanish. With the new Clark Caster, which consists of a short wire extension for a Clarkspoon that also has a weight (1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 ounce) and a spinner, pier fishermen are experimenting with casting Clarkspoons for Spanish, rather than trolling them. Got-Cha jigs catch Spanish well also.
Pier fishing has been pretty good for a few weeks if you are willing to fish for what is around. There are still good numbers of sea mullet and black drum but the Spanish mackerel and big bluefish are getting all the talk right now. Pompano, red drum, speckled trout, gray trout and more are also being caught from the piers.
I haven't heard of one being caught from the piers, but cobia made their annual appearance this week. There is a report of one cobia weighing 100 pounds and several more in the 50-70 pound range.
The sea mullet bite continues to be good in the Morehead City Turning Basin and along the channel out to Beaufort Inlet. While there isn't a turning basin at Southport, the sea mullet (They call them whiting at Southport.) are spread along the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Many are nice sea mullet too, often weighing upwards of a pound.
The numbers of gray trout in the Morehead City Turning Basin may not be increasing, but the fish are getting larger. With limits of only six fish per day, I'd rather catch larger ones and I expect you would also. The nighttime gray trout bite has been good under the lights of the Atlantic Beach and Radio Island high-rise bridges.
Specks and puppy drum are becoming more active in the creeks and marshes. A few more flounder are finding their way into many catches too. It sounds almost too simple, but one local expert said to fish for the reds on the flats and in the shallows, the speckled trout in the holes and channels and the flounder along the edges between them. He didn't want to be named, but he catches a lot of fish so it might just be good advice.
This week I got to fish a day with pro redfish angler C.A. Richardson. Richardson and partner Ray Van Horne have the TV show Flats Class (www.flatsclass.com) and know a lot about redfish, especially the ones at the top of the slot. He put me on some real hogs, including one that was 35 inches and taught me a lot about approaching fish that have been heavily chased. It was indeed a flats class.
I also got another treat this week, when I spent a morning and part of the afternoon fishing with Eric Bachnik of MirrOlure (www.mirrolure.com). We used a variety of lures from his topwater baits to the new MirrOlure soft baits and really whacked the specks. Outdoors writer Bill Aucoin was with us and even caught a small permit on one of the soft jerkbaits.
Our location as St. Petersburg, Fla. and I had to try catching snook under dock lights one night. I went with Capt. Tyson Wallerstein (email@example.com) and Cookie Brinkman and we had a memorable evening on the water. The snook had a mild case of lockjaw, but we convinced a couple to bite. Mine was the midget at 28 inches and Cookie's was a horse of more than three feet. Snook season was closed, so we snapped a few pictures and released them, but were reminded by Capt. Tyson that we should come back when they are in season and catch one to eat.
As a warning to surf fishermen headed to the Outer Banks, the National Park Service began closing areas of the Cape Hatteras beach on April 14. All access to the point at Cape Hatteras has been closed and other areas are being added. For more information, visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/caha.
The first of the 2009 Redfish Action Challenge tournaments was held at the Anchorage Marina in Atlantic Beach in the windy weather on Saturday. Teams battled the gusting winds with Captains Jeff Cronk and Mike Taylor of Swansboro's Crystal Coast Graphics Team taking up where they left off last year. Cronk and Taylor caught a pair of redfish that weighed 10.52 pounds to top the wind--and the field.
The Reelin' For Research offshore tournament was held in Morehead City over the weekend. The tournament features a "meatfish" format, with fishermen weighing their heaviest tuna, dolphin and wahoo for an aggregate weight. Team Bill Collector won the event with a total weight of 148 pounds.
The Rebel Pier King Tournament was held over the weekend at Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. A 35 pound king was caught there the day before the tournament, but only bluefish cooperated during the tournament. The winner was John Leach of Myrtle Beach, with a 10 pound, 10 ounce bluefish.
The Far Out Shoot Out will begin this weekend at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle. This is a multi-species, aggregate weight offshore tournament. The captains meeting will be held Friday night, with fishing days running from Saturday (May 9), through the next Saturday (May 16). For more information, visit www.oifc.com.
The Greenville Recreation and Parks Department will be presenting a two-night seminar on inshore and offshore saltwater fishing on May 12 and 13 at River Park North. The speakers for the seminars are Capt. Jimmy Price and myself. Jimmy will handle the inshore species, while I get the ocean species. The sessions are sponsored by Sea Striker, Star Rods and Overton's. Participants may attend either or both nights and more information is available by calling 252-329-4562 or 910-279-6760. Registration is $40 for both sessions or $25 for either individual session.
The Morehead City Family Boating and In-Water Boat Show will be next weekend, May 16 and 17 in Downtown Morehead City. There will be boats, tackle, loads of seminars and more. For more information, visit www.downtownmoreheadcity.com.