It won't be cool, but our weather is reverting back to some of its earlier spring windy and wet ways for this weekend. It will be blustery and with good chances for thunderstorms for most of the weekend. In looking for the silver lining, the early forecast has Saturday as the best day.
A front or two will be moving through the area and the final outcome on weather will be if the fronts are moving quickly or slowly. While thunderstorms are in the forecast until Monday, the Friday winds are to be southerly and pretty gusty. One front comes through sometime Friday night, switching the winds to northeasterly and they work back around to southeast to south during the day on Saturday. Currently, Saturday's winds should begin around 10 knots from the north and then work back to the south at about the same rate during the day.
Maybe it's a reason to stay home or go visit mom, but Mother's Day finds the winds breezing up again and with another chance of thunderstorms. Monday, the skies clear, but the winds stay breezy from the west. Why not do both of you a favor and take your mom fishing, not just out to dinner. Maybe you could take her fishing in the slightly better conditions on Saturday and then feed the family on Sunday with your catch. I bet a lot of moms would really appreciate that--especially if we did all the cooking and cleaning.
The water is definitely warming, I got out and waded some last weekend and it wasn't bad. The reports I'm seeing are still showing high 60's, but my legs said low 70's at low tide.
Wally, from the Sheraton Pier in Atlantic Beach called to say the fishing was pretty good. He said everyone who wanted was catching nice chopper bluefish. He said they also were catching sheepshead, smaller bluefish, sea mullet, black drum, sharks, plus red drum, an occasional flounder and they caught a few pompano this week.
For those inshore fishermen, sea mullet are still biting in the Morehead City Turning Basin and gray trout have arrived in Beaufort Inlet. Drifting and jigging with speck rigs tipped with fresh shrimp will catch a little of everything, especially sea mullet and jigging Stingsilvers is a productive way to fill a limit of gray trout.
There are some speckled trout in much of the inside waters. They are showing a preference for the deeper holes in the Newport and North Rivers, plus several of the creeks off the Intracoastal Waterway headed westward. I didn't hear of quite as many large specks this week, but there were still good catches.
Red drum and a few flounder are also biting in inside waters. With the water warming, the pods of drum are getting smaller. The drum are also moving about more often than in the cool water of several weeks ago. The presence of lots of bait on a broad flat is a good sign, but means you must limit your fishing to the last several hours of the rising tide and the first several hours of the rising tide.
When the tide is too low for puppy drum, you can move to the deeper water in the middle of the creek and try for flounder. It is a little early, but they have definitely started showing up. We caught one on a soft plastic grub last weekend.
The pups are also still showing well in the surf. Earlier this week there were some good catches of larger drum in the surf. Around the capes at Cape Lookout and up to Cape Hatteras, plus around the inlets are good locations for red drum in the surf. Lots of large bluefish are also in the surf. The blues are very skinny right now and are feeding ravenously. By fall they will fatten up and weigh over half again what they do now.
I do not have a confirmation of one being landed yet, but several cobia have been seen or hooked and lost near Cape Lookout. This isn't really surprising; they are due to arrive at any time. Certainly it won't be long before the move through Beaufort inlet and into the hook at Cape Lookout.
The water is almost too warm, but I heard of more bonito being caught this week. They are about gone for the spring, but more Spanish mackerel are arriving every day. Just like needing to know the difference between true bonito and false albacore, fishermen need to know the difference between large Spanish mackerel and king mackerel.
This difference is actually pretty simple to tell. All Spanish mackerel have a black edge on the front of their dorsal fin. With kings, the entire dorsal fin is gray. The lateral line on a king takes a sharp dip, while on a Spanish it is a more gradual dip, but the spot on the front of the dorsal fin isn't a judgment call. If that leading edge is black it's a Spanish and if that leading edge is gray it's a king.
I mentioned the run of kings from Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island last weekend and it has continued. They were still biting as of the middle of this week. Hopefully they will continue working their way up the beach in the coming weeks.
The big numbers of spring kings are still holding around 20 miles and farther offshore. Several locations that have been mentioned regularly are 210 Rock 240 Rock, West Rock, Big 10 and several locations just a few miles west of the offshore end of Cape Lookout Shoals. The Atlas Tanker and Chicken Rock are two spots east of Cape Lookout that have also been mentioned.
Off Cape Fear a hot king bite was reported at the Horseshoe. Numerous fishermen reported catching limits in less than an hour. This is about 26 miles from the Cape Fear River Inlet.
Offshore bottom fishing continues to be good. The head boats are having good mixed catches of sea bass, grunts, triggerfish, beeliners and grouper. They have also hooked a couple of cobia. This is a great sign the cobia are moving inshore and feeding.
The Liquid Fire Fishing Team, captained by Mark Henderson of Swansboro, topped the field at the Southern kingfish Association Pro Tournament held last weekend in Jensen Beach, Florida. They led a sweep by Tar Heel fishermen that included first through fourth and sixth places. It was very impressive. Congratulations to all.
The first Cape Lookout Redfish Challenge Tournament was held last weekend in Harkers Island. The fishing was a little tough, but the 31 boat field brought several nice catches to be weighed and released. Team Hooters, with Capt. Andrew Brannan and Rob Koraly, took the top honors with a pair of pups weighing 13.62 pounds. They also claimed the award for the heaviest drum with an impressive 7.10 pounder. For more information, visit www.redfishaction.com.
The Rebel (pier) King Mackerel Tournament was held last weekend at Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island. This is where the king bite has been so hot for the past two weeks and it continued for the tournament. Frank Riego of Raleigh won the tournament with a 21 pound king he caught on Saturday.
Tuesday evening, May 13, the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department, Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants and North Carolina Sportsman Magazine will be hosting a fishing seminar at the Cotswald Ave. Libby Hill Seafood Restaurant in Greensboro. Inshore saltwater fishing and king mackerel fishing will be discussed, with yours truly as the featured speaker. A light seafood buffet will be served between sessions. For more information, call 1-800-538-4355 or visit www.northcarolinasportsman.com.