Sometimes you just have to wonder what is happening with the weather. We had a really late spring, but things finally got going well and now we're looking at these little cold fronts to slow progress again. Tuesday and Wednesday of this week the temperatures made it to around 70, but after being nice and warm for a couple of weeks it seemed cool. Now we're looking at a similar situation for Sunday and the beginning of next week. Hopefully the water stays warm and it doesn't interrupt the fishing.
The water temperature has remained constant in the surf and more fish are showing up. Last week and this, the report from the instruments at Bogue Inlet Pier is 68 degrees.
Cobia have been the big news for the past week, so I'm going to start with them. In a nutshell, many knowledgeable and experienced cobia fishermen are already calling this the best cobia fishing in the past several years. Catches are being reported all along the N.C. coast, with the 100 pounder from last week at Cape Lookout being the largest so far. The cobia have also moved inside at Beaufort Inlet and are being caught behind Shackleford Banks. I haven't heard of one landed from a pier yet, but there have been several hooked.
Pier fishing for mixed species has been pretty good for a few weeks. Currently the big pier catch has been Hatteras Bluefish. The big boys are eating machines and rarely refuse anything. They have been running from 5 to 13 pounds and there are rumors of some that were larger. With one or two isolated exceptions, the nearshore kings haven't moved into the central N.C. coast yet, but are along the southern end of the state. Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island, had reported a king each of the past two Thursdays, but this week the kings hit there on Tuesday and there were several caught. The largest was 23 pounds.
Other fish being caught from the piers include sea mullet, black drum, red drum, Spanish mackerel, small bluefish, large bluefish, pompano, spots, croakers and a few flounder are getting all the talk right now.
There is some good news for all pier fishermen. In this time when piers are disappearing, one that was closed all last year has reopened.
Yaupon Pier was originally built in 1954 and was the first pier on Oak Island. It was named for the Yaupon Beach community where it was located. In the past few years, the towns of Yaupon Beach and Long Beach combined to form the Town of Oak Island, Long Beach pier was sold and removed, and Yaupon Pier was caught in a bankruptcy and closed. The Town of Oak Island has made arrangements to purchase the pier and is leasing it to the former operator of Long Pier Pier. After being closed for more than a year, it re-opened on Monday (May 11) as Oak Island Pier. Score one for the good guys!
Whatever you call them, sea mullet, Va. mullet or whiting, this tasty panfish is a favorite of many fishermen. This year has already seen a good run and they are still biting well from the piers, in the inlets, in the turning basin and along the channel out to Beaufort Inlet. There are also a few reports of sea mullet from the Dead Tree Hole. Many are nice sea mullet too, often weighing upwards of a pound.
Capt. Dave Dietzler (www.capelookoutcharters.com, 252-240-2850) said the gray trout fishing in the Morehead city port was good during the day and even better at night. He said the trout were stacked under the lights of the bridges and eating a little of everything.
Capt. Noah Lynk (www.noahsarkfishingcharters.com, 252-504-3139) said he was having good luck with cobia and lots of big bluefish both behind Shackleford Banks and at Cape Lookout.
Dietzler and Lynk said the speckled trout bite is warming with the water and the red drum are doing the same. They said the backwater action on both species is good and getting better. Dietzler also had several excellent catches this week of over slot drum on Cape Lookout Shoals.
Spanish mackerel have arrived and are being caught along the N.C. coast from Calabash to Hatteras. In addition to those being caught from the piers, the boat fishermen are crushing the Spanish. There are numbers of Spanish from just outside the breakers to about 50 feet deep and they are around most inlets. Most boat anglers troll for Spanish with a mixture of 00 and 0 size Clarkspoons, 0 size Drone spoons, bird rigs and mackerel tree rigs.
Got-Chas jigs have been the long-time favorite for casting to Spanish, but this year they are being heavily challenged by Clark Casters paired with Clarkspoons. Clark Casters were introduced last year, but were a little late arriving on the scene. They are a short wire extension for a Clarkspoon that also has a weight (3 sizes--1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 ounce) and a spinner. This allows casting the Clarkspoons, not just trolling them. Clark Casters are available in gold and silver.
This week there was a report of big Spanish all the way up the Neuse River to Dawson Creek. This is nearly to New Bern and it has happened before. Back in the 90s, when I was running a tackle shop that was a NCDMF Weigh Station in New Bern, there was one year I weighed a good handful of citation or near-citation Spanish caught in this same area.
Some bonito (Atlantic bonito, not false albacore) were caught at AR 315 this week. The first were caught by fishermen trolling for Spanish, but once the word got out, fishermen began casting for them. Small jigs and spoons work well for bonito.
More kings are showing up and they are moving closer to the beaches. There was one report of several fishermen limiting out on kings, just about a mile off Atlantic Beach. With the piers reporting kings along the southern coast, this is easily believable. The kings aren't picky yet and are hitting spoons, lures, frozen cigar minnows and live bait.
While the bumpy sea makes the ride and fishing a little tough, there are still good reports from the offshore bottom fishermen. Grouper are the primary species and they are catching gags, scamps and reds in about 100 feet of water. The offshore bottom catch also includes beeliners, grunts, black sea bass, amberjack and occasionally a cobia or king.
The offshore fishermen report hordes of gaffer dolphin waiting to gobble your baits. Seriously, everyone is reporting good catches of gaffer mahis, plus a mixture of wahoo and tuna. South of Cape Hatteras the tuna are mainly blackfins, with a few yellowfins mixed in. North of Cape Hatteras the number of yellowfins increases.
Every week there are a few more reports of billfish. The Hatteras Village Offshore Open, which is a Governor's Cup Billfish Series tournament in Hatteras Village, and The GPS Store Far Out Shoot Out, an independent offshore tournament in Ocean Isle, are underway in opposite ends of the state and there should be more billfish reports this weekend. The Swansboro Bluewater and King Mackerel Memorial Day Tournaments are next weekend in Swansboro and fishermen are expecting good catches in both tournaments.
I know this is a fishing report, but the end of the Upper Roanoke River "keeper season" for rockfish and turkey season come at about the same time. I was invited to come to a "Cast and Blast" session at Occoneechee Lodge and I couldn't allow myself to say no. I was invited to Occoneechee Lodge (www.deerhuntingnc.com, 252-583-1799), which is located along the Roanoke River between Roanoke Rapids and Jackson. This is in the heart of turkey country and rockfish water.
I hunted turkey with the owner, Gil Cutchin, and he used superior calling skills to coax in a wary gobbler. After lunch, we drove to Weldon and boarded a boat with Dan Williams for an afternoon of striper fishing. Even though the bite was untypically slow, Dan put us on the fish and we caught a limit of keepers, plus a bunch of shorts. We didn't keep our limit, but stayed one shy, hoping for a really big one before leaving. The big boy never bit, but it was a great time anyway.
Surf fishermen headed to the Outer Banks should check with the National Park Service regarding areas closed to vehicles and pedestrians. All access to the point at Cape Hatteras has been closed and other areas are being added. The park's website is www.nps.gov/caha.
The Far Out Shoot Out began last Saturday at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle and wraps up this Saturday. This is a multi-species, aggregate weight offshore tournament and fishermen are allowed to fish one day of the eight. Participants may register through tonight (May 15). For more information, visit www.oifc.com.
The Hatteras Village Offshore Open is currently underway. Fishing days are Wednesday through Saturday. This is the first Governor's Cup Billfishing Series event for the 2009 season. For more information on the tournament visit www.hatterasoffshoreopen.com and for more information on the N.C. Governor's cup Billfishing Series visit www.ncdmf.net.
The Kure Beach Recreation Commission will be presenting a flounder and king mackerel fishing seminar on May 20 at the Kure Beach Recreation Center. The speakers for the seminars are Capt. Jimmy Price and myself. Jimmy will handle the flounder session, while I get the king mackerel session. The seminar is sponsored by Sea Striker, Star Rods and Island Tackle and Hardware. More information is available by calling 910-279-6760.
The Morehead City Family Boating and In-Water Boat Show is this weekend in Downtown Morehead City. There will be boats, tackle, loads of seminars and more. For more information, visit www.downtownmoreheadcity.com.