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05-31-04

I don't know what it is about Memorial Day Weekend, but once again we were bombarded with thunderstorms, waterspouts, tornado warnings, and other weather conditions that weren't exactly good. Thankfully, the wind wasn't particularly strong, except during the storms and right in their immediate area, but the actual weekend weather deviated rather widely from the forecast. I discussed the consistency of these storms occurring on Memorial Day Weekend with numerous fishermen and all agreed they remembered similar occurrences, at some time over the holiday weekend, for the majority of the past 20 years. Is it coincidence or not?

With the exception of a little blow-up Wednesday afternoon and evening, the winds are forecast to be backing off again this week. Starting out a little less and building to somewhere around 10 to 15 knots of southwest afternoon sea breeze seems to be about the ideal fishing wind for this time of year. It keeps the ocean calm enough to be comfortable, provides some breeze to keep you cool and fishing once the sun gets up, and creates just enough disturbance along the ocean shoreline that the surf and pier fishing remains a good prospect.

With the higher winds of last week, many fishermen concentrated more on fishing the inside waters. At various places along the coast, they caught sea mullet, gray trout, red drum, black drum, flounder and bluefish. There have also been some reports of a few larger speckled trout.

There was a slow but steady bottom fishing bite along most of the coast this past weekend, but nothing was really spectacular. Around the inlets, there were a few more and larger flounder in the mix, while bluefish, spots, sea mullet, and a growing number of flounder were caught by the surf fishermen and from the piers. A few cobia also created some pleasant surprises.

The water cleaned up enough that the pluggers began catching some Spanish mackerel and bluefish from the piers again. A few cobia and kings were sighted from the piers, but I didn't receive a report of one being landed. Maybe that will start again this week. This action began several weeks ago at the southern NC coast and has been slowly spreading up the coast. Maybe this will be the week that it happens everywhere.

One of the brightest spots of the weekend was the great catches of African pompano at Frying Pan Tower. Numerous king mackerel boats, from the Swansboro tournament, reported catching many of these hard-fighting and good eating fish. Like much that has happened this year, the pompano have made an early appearance. They usually don't arrive until at least early July.

The larger boats headed offshore and continued to see good mixed catches of dolphin, tuna, wahoo, and a scattering of billfish. Dolphin have become the primary catch, but no one is complaining.

The Swansboro Rotary Memorial Day Blue Marlin and King Mackerel Tournaments were held this weekend. The Miss Teny, with Capt. Ashley Jones, took top honors in the King Mackerel Division with a 32 pound king they caught off Southport on Saturday. The Billfish Division was decided on the timing of several releases. The Outlaw, with Capt. Ken Miller, was declared the winner, with one blue marlin release.

This weekend, the Carteret County Sportfishing Association (CCSA) Cobia Tournament will be held in Beaufort and the Bald Head Island Fishing Rodeo will be held at Bald Head Island. For more information on the CCSA Cobia Tournament call 252-240-2751 and for the Bald Head Island Rodeo call 910-457-3701.

Capt. Jerry Dilsaver

                                      

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