Just as we started back with this report, the wind turned to the southwest and has proceeded to blow at least 15 knots every day since. It has made small boat fishing in the ocean a little sporty the past week, but there were some times early and late in the day that were reasonable. Those afternoon and evening thunderstorms were something else also. Friday evening the shear at the front of the storms was particularly nasty and did some real damage as they roared through. Thankfully we didn't have the tornadoes spawn from them like out in the Midwest. We had a tornado warning again Saturday night, but fortunately no reports of actually having one.
The good news is that the temperatures are staying up to almost unseasonable highs and the water is continuing to warm up. This warm trend looks to continue for a while. The winds also look to continue with their southerly flow, but maybe to moderate some by the weekend. Several knowledgeable fishermen have said that as soon as the southwesterly wind pattern moderates some, the ocean beaches will load back up with Spanish mackerel and the king mackerel should move on up the coast.
The inshore fishing has been tested during the past week and it has passed well. The reports include some really good flounder catches, willing puppy drum, and enough speckled trout to realize that all of them didn't get killed during the late January freeze.
In addition there are still some black drum in the holes under many docks, and the sea mullet and gray trout are biting well in the Morehead City Turning Basin and the surrounding area.
Another good gray trout bite is going on at Wallace Channel, between Ocracoke and Portsmouth Islands. The gray trout regulations were revised earlier in the year. The current gray trout regulations established a minimum size of 12 inches and a daily limit of 7 per person.
In the surf zone, from the inlets and along the ocean beaches, there continues to be a really good mixture of fish. At times the bluefish have been truly ravenous. There are schooling blues of a pound or two near the breakers and some Hatteras blues, of 10 pounds plus, being caught at the end of the piers. Sea mullet are still biting well also, but appear to have switched to a very early, very late, and nighttime feeding pattern. There are also bonito, false albacore, gray trout, speckled trout, flounder, red drum, black drum, pompano, spots, croakers, blowfish, and more. The Spanish mackerel bite has slowed some with the dirty water but it will rebound once the water clears back up.
The king and cobia bite has slowed on the southern coast piers. They are blaming it on the southerly winds making the nearshore waters muddy. Some catches this week at Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches, which are easterly facing beaches and partially blocked from a southwest wind, help bear this out. The cobia bite is picking up behind Shackleford Banks. This is a great opportunity to catch a big fish in a small boat. There are also some big cobia off Oak Island and at Hatteras.
While the offshore fishing remains pretty consistent, the ride to and from the Gulf Stream was nasty enough to have been mostly big boats for the past week. The catch continues to be well rounded and includes yellowfin tuna, various size dolphin, wahoo, some scattered kings, and a few billfish. The 2003 Governor's Cup Billfishing Conservation Series kicked off over the weekend with the Hatteras Village Open. After going fishless on Thursday, the Sea Hag released 2 blue marlin on Friday to claim the lead, and then released a sailfish on Saturday to secure the win. Congratulations.