Hey everyone---How about a run of really good weather for a change? After the passing of last weekend's front, we have a Bermuda High building into our area. This is that summertime weather that we fishermen live for. Sometimes there isn't even enough morning breeze to keep you cool and the afternoon sea breeze is barely enough. The weather prognosticators say this should build in over the next few days and may even last through the coming weekend. All I can say is-It's about time.
Thankfully the frontal passing of last weekend wasn't quite as bad as forecast. There were some instances of locally severe weather that were pretty destructive, but overall we weathered the system well. Maybe burning out that extra energy Friday night is what allowed Saturday to be nicer than anticipated. Unfortunately the fish must have prepared for the worst as they just didn't bite as well as we had hoped.
The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament wrapped up in Morehead City on Saturday, with Captain Huck Harriss and the Samanna crew enjoying a wire-to-wire win. The Samanna came to the scales on Monday afternoon, with a 541.5 pound blue marlin and then had to sweat out the rest of the week. There were a couple of scares, but the closest was the 489 pounder that the Steel Deal weighed the next day. Several larger fish were hooked during the tournament, but they don't count unless they get to the scales and none of the other boats managed that. Because of the various levels of optional entry, the Steel Deal crew pocketed a larger check ($471,565), but the Samanna crew ($141,775) still had the victory and the ear-to-ear grin that goes with it.
During the 6 days of the Big Rock Tournament, 189 boats tagged and released 104 billfish and landed 5 more. This figures out to a 95.4 % release rate. Of the 5 blue marlin that were boated, they included the top 3 places, one that was a couple of pounds too small to meet the minimum size require by the tournament, and one that the boat declined to weigh. The released billfish included 54 blue marlin, 39 white marlin, and 11 sailfish.
In Wilmington, the 3rd Annual Greater Wilmington King Mackerel Tournament attracted almost 300 boats in pursuit of the largest king mackerel. The only crew that could top Captain Joe Winslow and the Hooligan was themselves. In nasty sea conditions on Friday, Captain Winslow and the Hooligan brought a 33.04 pound king to the scales to take the first day lead. Just behind, were the Carroll brothers, on the Dig It III, at 31.25 pounds. With better weather on Saturday, the Hooligan upped the ante to 36.78 pounds, while the rest of the field struggled. For this feat, they earned a $67,335 payday. That's not bad work when you can get it, especially when king mackerel fishing is as slow as it is right now. Congratulations to all the winning boats and their crews.
Dolphin fishing continues to be the best fishing from about 50 feet of water on out to the Gulf Stream. They are hitting a wide assortment of baits and providing thrills and excellent meals for many anglers. The closest I have heard of one inshore was Friday at the Cape Fear River Sea Buoy. As a special unexpected surprise, there are a few sailfish mixed in with the feeding dolphin. When one of them hits, it makes your reel squeal in agony and you squeal in delight.
Closer to the beaches Spanish mackerel are more than willing to be invited home for dinner. They are hitting an assortment of small spoons and cast lures. Early morning and late afternoons are the best times to target Spanish.
Inside the inlets, flounder and puppy drum are both biting well. The drum are hitting small gold spoons and soft plastics in the marshes and creeks. The flounder prefer live bait or fresh strip bait and are holding around the inlets. Recreational ocean flounder fishing will reopen north of New River Inlet on July 4. The ocean regulations include an 8 fish per day bag limit and a minimum size of 15-1/2inches. Inside the inlets there is no number limit and the minimum size is 13 inches.
For more in-depth coverage on "how to" and "where to" go fishing along the Carolina coast, check out my articles and more in the North Carolina Sportsman Magazine and visit us on the web at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver