Good times are here again! We are having a bit of a blow and some wandering thunderstorms as I write this, but the forecast is for things to settle down into the weekend. There isn't even a weak cold front in the forecast.
It's about time! The temperatures aren't looking to be in the 80's but being in the 70's during the day and not getting cold at night should help our inshore and nearshore waters get back to the warmer temperatures of several weeks ago and bring the fish in.
The forecast has some leftover swell from today's blow on Friday, but falling out to 2-3 foot seas and winds of less than 15 knots through Monday. If you haven't already planned a fishing trip for this weekend, you should get busy. It looks to be a good'un.
The weather conditions of last weekend weren't quite as strong as the forecast and some fishermen quickly changed their plans and headed offshore. The seas were a bit rolly and the winds puffing a little, but the catches were good.
Like many folks who planned in advance by the forecast, I spent some more time inshore. Except for not having any fresh tuna steaks for the grill, it wasn't that bad. The trout, drum and flounder are cooperating fairly well and it doesn't require refinancing the house to buy a couple of gallons of gas to fish a local marsh or creek.
The water temperature was 68 degrees again this week at Bogue Inlet Pier. With the sunshine and warmer nights, it should find its way back above 70 degrees pretty quickly. Some things are already starting to happen and they should only get better.
I had two memorable inshore trips this week. Last Friday, while you were reading this column, I was on the New River with my friend Milt Hardin. Milt returned from a second tour in Iraq in March and is preparing to retire from the Marines, so I feel I have a responsibility to help him adjust to retired civilian life. While none were particularly large, we caught speckled trout, puppy drum and one flounder.
This Wednesday, I was the guest of Capt. Noah Lynk, of Noah's Ark Fishing Charters, for a day of inshore fishing out of Harkers Island. My arm and shoulder are just a little sore this morning and it feels good. We caught lots of slot-size drum, a few trout and one flounder.
I believe these two trips sum up the inshore basics pretty well. There are pretty good number of drum, fair numbers of speckled trout and the flounder are starting to show. Some places to check out are the inlets, Wallace Channel at Ocracoke and the Morehead City Turning Basin for the above plus sea mullets, gray trout and croakers.
Some large bluefish are being caught from the ends of the piers and a few more Spanish mackerel were also caught from the piers this week. If the weather doesn't cool off again, this should signal the arrival of the Spanish for the year.
Otherwise, the piers continue to report fair to good mixed action. Sea mullet are generally the biggest part of the catch, with some gray trout, speckled trout, spots, big blowfish, red drum, black drum, dogfish, a few early pompano and a couple more flounder than last week.
A king was caught this week on one of the North Myrtle Beach piers and a cobia was caught Sunday at Yaupon Pier on Oak Island. It's only a matter of a little time and a few degrees warmer water before things really get going.
There were more reports this week of good catches along the beaches. The trollers reported bluefish, Atlantic bonito and a slowly growing number of Spanish mackerel.
There were more reports of kings moving closer in. The 210 and 240 Rocks, 14 Buoy, 23 Mile Rock, the Horseshoe, 390/390 and the Jungle were mentioned a few times. With the weather and water warming, those fish should be moving right on in.
More boats headed offshore this week and the reports have been good. Highlighting the offshore catch is a tale of a 146 inch long blue marlin caught and released on the Impulse out of Morehead City. That is a huge blue--certainly one they would like to find again during the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
The other offshore reports were of fish that were hungry and ready to attack lures or bait. The catches included yellowfin and blackfin tuna, wahoo, a few kings, and an increasing number of dolphin. As I have been saying, these reports will get better as the weather allows more folks to comfortably make the offshore trip.
Congratulations to Kyle Hughes of Shallotte for winning the Spring Flounder and Trout Challenge. He caught an 8.55 pound trout and a 1.80 pound flounder to top the field. Congratulations also to Roger Kidd for winning the Rebel King Mackerel Pier Fishing Tournament. No kings or cobia were caught, but Kidd prevailed with a 9 pound and 7 ounce bluefish.
The Hatteras Village Offshore Open will be held May 16 to 20 at Hatteras Landing Marina in Hatteras. Call 1-800-676-4939 or visit www.hatterasoffshoreopen.com for more details.