Welcome back to another windy weekend weather forecast. Unfortunately this is Memorial Day Weekend and the official beginning of the 2006 beach season in N.C. Even with the higher gas prices the coastal communities should be filled to overflowing this weekend. There will be lots of traffic on the roads and waterways. A healthy dose of patience, common sense and courtesy will go a long way towards making this a safe and enjoyable weekend for everyone.
Unfortunately there are some gusty winds forecast for the weekend. Currently the marine weather forecast includes a Small Craft Advisory through Saturday afternoon along the northern half of the coast. The forecast is a little nicer for the waters below Surf City. Hopefully the weather system bringing these winds will stall or dissipate before it arrives.
There were several nice days during this week and many fishermen found ways to be able to take advantage of them. In most cases they found the fish cooperative--hungry and ready to bite. Hopefully the changing weather won't disrupt this.
With all the sunshine and mild nights, the water temperatures have continued to rise. The temperature around Bogue Inlet Pier rose from 70 degrees last week to 73 degrees a couple of days ago. It might even be 74 or 75 by the time this reaches the newsstands.
During the calm weather earlier in the week, many fishermen headed offshore. Most were greeted by hungry fish and returned with full fish boxes and broad smiles. A growing number of dolphin were the highlight of this week's offshore catch. There are still good numbers of yellowfin tuna in the offshore catch, but more dolphin are arriving almost daily. These are mostly gaffer size dolphin, with a few big bulls mixed in.
Most boats are also catching a couple of wahoo per trip and almost always have a story about the big wahoo that bit off a favorite lure. Unfortunately the tuna can often be shy of wire leaders and mono or fluorocarbon leaders just aren't a match for the razor-like teeth of a wahoo.
This week there were some really good reports of king mackerel moving closer to the beaches. The 210 and 240 Rocks, 14 Buoy and Jerry's Reef are being mentioned prominently off Morehead and Swansboro, while the Shark Hole, 390/390 and the Jungle are the hot spots off Southport. It appears the kings have moved inshore by Memorial Day Weekend and the Swansboro Rotary Memorial Day Tournament, but now the weather has to allow safe and comfortable passage to get to them.
Cobia have moved in and are being caught from Little River to Hatteras. Cobia could be the big item for many people this weekend as many have moved into waters that are reachable in a breezy wind.
The piers continue to report pretty 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. The pluggers are catching blues and Spanish pretty well at times.
Those big Hatteras bluefish continue to hit the live baits deployed from the ends of the piers. They aren't kings or cobia, but they fight pretty well and sure beat just watching your bait swim around.
There were some kings caught on some of the southern piers this week. Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island reported multiple catches on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Spanish mackerel numbers are definitely increasing rapidly. The nearshore trollers reported better catches of blues and Spanish mackerel all the way to Hatteras. They said to look for fish breaking the water and birds diving for the scraps.
Some red drum were also reported in the surf. They seem to be staging around the bars at the capes and around the inlets. The hot spot is Cape Hatteras and Hatteras Inlet, but there have also been some caught at Cape Lookout and Cape Fear and most of the inlets along those parts of the coast.
In the inshore waters, trout and drum continue to bite pretty well and more flounder are finding their way into local catches. The trout and drum seem to like many artificials as well as live baits, but the flounder have a preference for mud minnows, mullet minnows and peanut pogies.
There are still some sea mullet, gray trout, croakers and a few flounder in the inlets and the Morehead City Turning Basin. There are some Va. mullet and gray trout in Wallace Channel between Ocracoke and Portsmouth Island. There are some smaller whiting along the edges of the Cape Fear Ship Channel between Southport and Bald Head Island. If you didn't know already, the Va. mullet at Ocracoke, the sea mullet at Morehead City and the whiting at Southport are all the same fish--just with different local names. These may well be good places to hide and fish if the wind gets above 20 knots on Saturday.
Congratulations to Capt. Edgar Styron and the Tyler II crew for winning the Hatteras Village Offshore Open last weekend. They had 3 blue marlin releases.
This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and the Swansboro Rotary Club will host their annual Blue Marlin and King Mackerel Tournaments. Call 252-422-9100 or visit www.swansbororotary.com for more details.
The other tournament this weekend is the Far Out Shoot Out, from Ocean Isle. Call 910-575-3474 or visit www.oifishingcenter.com for more details.