Monday afternoon I was speaking with someone and laughing about almost being blown away. During that conversation, one of us remarked that if it had been June 1 or later the weather system causing all the wind would have been named. We were referring to the first day of the 2007 Hurricane Season, but we found out that is a season created by man and this storm wasn't paying attention to the calendar and wasn't about to wait.
Wednesday morning a hurricane hunter plane flew into it and a little while later it became Tropical Storm Andrea. That wasn't something any of us wanted to see. Fortunately this storm is moving away--toward Florida--which is exactly opposite of a hurricane, but at least it's gone.
While the storm soon to be named Andrea was off N.C., it caused lowland flooding, storm surf that over washed Highway 12 on the Outer Banks and blew hard enough most of the N.C. Ferries were shut down for a day or two. There were reports of winds into the low 60's in several locations. By Wednesday it had moved far enough south the winds were moderating and the sun was shining in places.
When I said last week we would see another of those strange weather systems, I wasn't thinking anything like this. Hopefully it will not reverse direction.
There are thunder storms predicted in the weather through Sunday. The percentages aren't high, but these are spring thunderstorms, not those summer thunderstorms that are created by heat and humidity and can pop up almost any time.
Depending on exactly where you are on the coast, this weekend's winds appear pretty manageable. There is one wind spike in the forecast Saturday afternoon for Cape Lookout and northward, but it is only predicted at 15-20 knots and shouldn't be too bad. By the weekend the seas will have subsided some and hopefully the fish will be hungry and biting.
If I could do this Friday morning and still make deadline I would try it, especially this week. I will be fishing then out of Harkers Island with Capt. Noah Lynk and he said he has already found some fish after the storm. He said he caught blues and gray trout Wednesday and believes the water will settle out pretty quickly and more fish will be biting by then. He hasn't led me astray yet, so I should have a beginning report for next week.
Prior to this blow, the tuna bite had been good off Cape Lookout and to the north. Several boats got into them on Saturday, but then the ocean was stirred up until later in the week. Most fishermen are expecting the tuna to be in roughly the same locations and still hungry. The starting spot will be slightly north of the Big Rock.
Some gaffer dolphin were also showing up and most boats have been catching at least one wahoo each trip.
The water temperatures had been rising steadily and the king mackerel have been moving closer to the beaches. Prior to the storm there were good bites reported at Northwest Places, Rock South of 13 and near the E Buoy off Swansboro. Some kings are also mixed in the charter reports from Hatteras and the commercial reports from off Cape Fear.
Last Wednesday, the first pier kings of the year were caught from Ocean Crest Pier at Oak Island. There were 7 on Wednesday, 3 on Thursday and 1 on Friday. Several more were caught over the weekend off Seaview Pier at Topsail Island. The nearshore water has climbed into the 70 degree range, so this isn't a big surprise. Hopefully, the cloudy weather and rain don't cause the water temperature to drop and run the kings offshore.
Offshore bottom fishing has been very good to excellent all spring. In the deeper water the storm winds and waves don't affect the bottom dwellers very badly, except for giving them temporary cases of lockjaw. That should be relaxed by the weekend. Grouper is everyone's favorite target, but there definitely are also other fish in the sea. The other offshore bottom catches have been including beeliners (vermilion snapper), black sea bass, red snapper, pinkies (red porgy), porgies, triggerfish, tilefish and a few hog snapper.
Before the blow the reports of flounder from the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs had been picking up. Live mullet or mud minnows have been the best baits.
My surf fishing buddies tell me the surf zone is still somewhat stirred up, but they were bragging about a serious drum bite at Cape Hatteras just before the wind and seas picked up. They were throwing out numbers like 30 citation drum in a night. That water is messed up right now, but once it cleans up some the bite could be on again. I haven't gotten a report yet, but it's time for a good red drum run at Cape Lookout. They said they are catching nice bluefish all along the coast.
I hope no pier suffered any damage or erosion during this blow. Being a northeaster that became tropical, it moved the wrong direction (north to south) and caused a lot of erosion.
The reports from the piers had generally been of improving catches. There is the usual mixture of bottom fish, such as blues, sea mullet, blowfish and gray trout and the Hatteras blues have arrived. The king mackerel and cobia reports from down south are getting everyone excited. Pluggers near the ends of the piers were beginning to catch good numbers of Spanish mackerel and are hoping they return quickly.
It sounds so simple many folks believe I am being sarcastic, but the best way to catch specks, flounder and red drum are to fish where they are. Some fishermen seem to find at least a few fish every trip and others often return with slim pickings. The trick is to find those places through the marshes and creeks where they congregate. Look for holes, points, bars and creek mouths that create places the fish can rest out of the current while they wait for dinner to be washed by in the current. Live minnows have been producing well, as have a variety of soft plastics.
If you're looking for a sure thing, Beaufort Inlet is loaded with bluefish to two pounds. There are also some sea mullet and gray trout along the edges of the channel from the State Port out to the inlet.
Congratulations to Ethan Brown of Greensboro for winning the Rebel King Tournament at Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island last weekend. It was Brown's first king and the only king caught during the tournament.