Summer must be here. The rapid fire fronts and thunder storms of last week and weekend are a prime indicator. The water has pure gotten hot over the last week or so. Several very good fishermen have commented that it almost seems like we leaped from spring-like weather and water temps to the doldrums of summer. While this does disrupt some types of fishing, it helps others. I guess we have to take the good with the bad and know when to switch species and tactics.
The warmer water is moving the red drum out of the small creeks and into some larger waters. Keep a sharp eye out for spotted tails along marsh edges, oyster bars, and grassy flats. On the full moon high tides, they will also move up into the flooded marsh grass, searching for the crabs, shrimp, and minnows that usually hide there.
In the central part of the state, the large speckled trout have slowed down. There have been some scattered smaller trout and puppy drum. Farther to the north, around Manteo and Manns Harbor, there have been enough hungry stripers around to keep fishermen smiling. Favorite spots have been around the bridges. This is catch and release fishing only---don't keep one. To the south, flounder and speckled trout fishing is getting better. Last weekend I saw several catches of large trout and a 10 pound flounder. This was in the Southport area.
Cobia fishing is going like gangbusters. They are in the nearshore ocean, inlets, and just inside the inlets. Some excellent catches have been reported all along the coast. There are both good numbers of cobia and some very large fish. A picture of part of one excellent catch is below. Not shown is a 50 pounder, two 40 pounders, and several smaller fish.
Surf and Pier
When the wind blows from the southwest, the pier fishing appears to be better. Sea mullet (whiting), bluefish, the occasional gray or speckled trout, a few black and red drum, spots, blowfish, sharks, and chinese flounder (skates) are making up the bulk of the catch. Piers all along the southern and central NC Coast are reporting good catches of 2-4 pound spanish. The best time is usually early morning or late afternoon.
Over last month there have been a handful of kings caught on the piers from Emerald Isle to the south. This action should continue to improve and the kings move up the coast. Some cobia are also being caught from the piers.
The water has now warmed to the point that the large red drum are gone from the point at Buxton. Smaller puppies and a mixture of other stuff is still being caught.
There have been lots of bluefish and spanish mackerel along most of the NC coast. The warming water has finally run off the Atlantic Bonito. Spanish mackerel and bluefish are hitting a variety of trolled spoons and casting lures. A few king mackerel have finally been caught at some of the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs. Some of the sea buoys have also had a few good days. As more bait shows up, this fishing should really take off.
Bottom bouncers have been doing well with sea bass, grunts, snapper and a few grouper. There are still some concentrations of small to medium size kings in these depths. Anchoring or drifting, with a light line out the back could add a king or dolphin to your bottomfish catch.
While there are still some yellowfin tuna being caught along the coast, dolphin are starting to really outnumber them in most catches. There are a pretty good number of gaffer dolphin too, not just the peanuts from early spring. A wahoo or two are also present in many catches. Billfish encounters are on the rise and are putting some reel excitement in many offshore ventures. These numbers should continue to increase for another several weeks.
There is no word yet on the two blackfin tuna catches that have been submitted to the NCDMF as a potential state record. The certification process involves pictures, positive identification, certified scale verification, and more paperwork, which is not yet complete on either. One is a 36 pound fish that was caught on the Musicman charterboat, out of Carolina Beach. The other is a 37 pound fish that was caught on the Harper's Folly charterboat, out of Hatteras. As soon as one of them is certified, I will post it here.