Wow, it's the 4th of July Weekend already. Where has this summer gone? The air is usually pretty warm by now and the water is still warming, but this year both are already hot. Even along the beaches the temperatures are dodging the cooling sea breezes and hitting the high 80's and lower 90's almost every day. The humidity is almost at the same levels and it makes the outside conditions hot and muggy.
Once again it looks like a pretty good weekend is shaping up. The forecast is for mostly sunny and hot, with a chance of scattered thunderstorms, especially on Sunday and Monday. Once our weather gets to this point, the threat of thunderstorms is always with us. It happens more often a little inland as the sea breezes create a slight barrier to the clouds getting all the way to the coast, but it does happen.
We had some rain and gusty winds early in the week as the remains of a low passed by just offshore. There were several tropical weather bulletins issued, but it moved on without developing into a tropical storm.
The early forecast has the wind behaving this weekend. There may be a little bit of directional variance, but the weather prognosticators have the wind staying under 15 knots all weekend, with much of the time at less than 10. The conditions should allow folks to fish just about anywhere they would like.
With the July 4th crowds, which typically are the largest of the year, there will be lots of boats in area waters. Please use caution when operating your boat and keep a designated boat driver as well as auto driver when enjoying adult beverages on the water. Everyone should be able to go home on their own next week.
Normally I think of dolphin fishing as happening offshore. Currently that isn't exactly true. Last week I reported a small dolphin being hooked, but not landed, from Bogue Inlet Pier. This week one was landed there. Congratulations to Danny Glover, who recorded the historic catch using a Got-Cha jig.
The dolphin at Bogue Inlet Pier was a very unusual catch, but they have been pretty common and many barely offshore places this week. Many dolphin reports are coming from spots as close as WR 13, The Dredge Wreck and the Shark Hole, with a few others even closer. There is no such thing in fishing as a sure thing, but right now, catching a dolphin while fishing around 14 Buoy and out to the 90 Foot Drop is about as likely to happen as it ever has been or will be.
Some marlin, sailfish, wahoo and dolphin are being caught along the edge of the Gulf Stream from Winyah Scarp to the Point.
There haven't been many inside cobia reports in several weeks. There are still a few around, but they have moved back to the ocean and are hanging out in the shade at many of the artificial reels and shipwrecks. Most are being caught incidentally by live bait king mackerel fishermen.
Speaking of king mackerel, the catches have been improving slowly, but the king fishing just hasn't been great yet. There are some teenagers (13-19 pounds) at many of the rocks, wrecks and artificial reefs in roughly 60 feet of water, but there are also lots of not-quite to barely-legal kings from that area in towards the beach.
Some small kings have been caught by Spanish mackerel fishermen and mis-identified as large Spanish. Don't make this mistake as the size and number limits are different. The limits on kings are 3 per person and a minimum size of 24 inches fork length (tip of nose to middle of fork in tail), while 15 is the limit for Spanish, with a 12 inches fork length minimum size.
The easiest difference to spot between kings and Spanish is the black spot all Spanish have on the leading edge of their forward dorsal fin. A king's dorsal fin is all gray.
Even with the few rough days, the Spanish catches picked up a little last week. Just outside the inlets and along the capes have been excellent places to catch them.
Pier fishing has slowed over the past week, but the catch contains a wide variety of fish. The flounder bite has been slow but steady. Unfortunately, about 1/3 of the catch is below minimum size. Spanish mackerel had been biting well early and late in the day, but have slowed. Mornings are now the best time for them. Bluefish may be the most consistently biting fish of the pier catches and they may decide to feed at any time. Other fish in the pier catches include speckled trout, croakers, drum (red and black), small sharks, and pompano.
There have been some pier kings caught along the southern and lower central N.C. coast, but it hasn't spread to Bogue Banks and the Outer Banks. It is past time for the pier fishermen in these areas to be catching kings also. The water temperatures are flirting with the low 80's and jack crevalle and tarpon could arrive at any time.
In inside waters the red drum are biting surprisingly well for the warm water. Flounder fishing is becoming more consistent and there have been some nice flounder caught along the entire N.C. coast. Look for them around the inlets and along the edges of deeper channels.
Flounder have been biting well in the ocean. The nearshore artificial reefs have been holding lots of flounder. Several places to check are AR 315, AR 320 and AR 342 off Bogue Banks, AR 360, AR 364 and AR 378 off Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches and AR 420, AR 425 and the Jim Caudle Reef off Brunswick County.
Congratulations to the Patrick Bryant and the crew of the Twister for winning the Jolly Mon King Mackerel Classic last weekend.
The only tournament on the schedule this weekend is the Fourth of July Offshore Tournament from Pirates Cove Marina in Manteo. For more information call 1-800-422-3610 or visit www.piratescovetournaments.com.
It isn't quite fishing, but the Tall Ships Tour will be in Beaufort and Morehead City this weekend and they are something to see. Several ships have already arrived and tied up at the State Ports. For more information visit www.pepsiamericassail.com or call 252-728-7471.