That cool weather break over last weekend was really nice. In fact, the way things are warming up again, I would welcome it back. Once again we have returned to our usual summer weather of hot at night, hotter during the day and the possibility of a thunderstorm almost any time. Welcome to the North Carolina coast.
After the few days of northerly winds last weekend things have returned to our normal southerly flow. The winds will be a little blustery Friday, before tapering off some on Saturday and getting pretty nice on Sunday.
Some of the offshore water temperatures cooled over the last week and several locations that had been in the 80's dropped several degrees into the high 70's. The bite slowed just a little during the northerly (and northeasterly) winds over the weekend, but picked right back up once the wind settled back to a southerly flow.
Dolphin continue to be the fish on everyone's mind and on their lines. There were dolphin caught from just a few miles off most beaches out to the Gulf Stream. Most of the nearshore dolphin were smaller, but a few over 10 pounds were in close feeding with them.
Farther offshore there have been good reports of billfish, wahoo and more dolphin. The billfish are sailfish, plus blue and white marlin. The billfish tournaments have been reporting good catches and that continued through this past weekend at the Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament.
The king mackerel are finally showing along the beaches. Fishermen at Bogue Inlet Pier tallied another pair during the last week. The largest was a 24 pounder, caught by Shorty Mann of Swepsonville. There were also reports of kings in the Beaufort Inlet Ship Channel and at Cape Lookout. Along most of the balance of the N.C. coast, the kings were holding off shore a bit in water 55 feet or deeper.
There were a few reports of cobia again this week. Most were around a popular king mackerel spot. I had one clamp down on a ribbonfish I was trolling for kings and fight for several minutes before just opening its mouth and letting go. It then followed the bait to the boat and let us see how big it was--and it was big! Of course, I have never lost a little fish--Have you?
With the hot weather the Spanish have been biting best early in the morning and again fairly well late in the afternoon. They are feeding on small glass minnows and prefer smaller lures right now. Try Clarkspoons in 00 size in both silver and gold. Some days one or the other is noticeably better.
If you prefer to anchor or drift and target larger Spanish, live peanut menhaden or finger mullet are the hot ticket for them. The tide lines, just outside the inlets, have been holding good numbers of larger Spanish.
With the exception of adding a few kings, pier fishing has slowed during these hot days. There is still a big mix of species, just not very many of any particular one. Most years by this time the pier fishermen have caught several jack crevalles and hooked a few tarpon. For the bottom fish, the better bite has been at night. The pier catches also include Spanish mackerel, flounder, spadefish, bluefish, speckled trout, croakers, drum (red and black), small sharks, and pompano.
Flounder fishing has been pretty good in both inside waters and the ocean. The key has been finding a location with bait and water that moves with the tide. The better inside spots have been along the edges of deeper channels and around the bars in the inlets. In the ocean, the nearshore artificial reefs and a few spots of nearshore natural hardbottom have been holding lots of flounder.
Even with the hot water there has been a surprisingly consistent bite of red drum in the marshes and on the flats. The drum are hungry and will sample almost any lure that resembles shrimp, mullet minnows or small crabs.
A few larger drum are being caught in Pamlico Sound. The better areas have been off Swan, Raccoon and Cedar Islands. The best drum bite in this area is usually from just before dark to roughly midnight.
There are also some tarpon moving into the same general areas as the drum. The tarpon will bite during the light (and heat) of the day.
Congratulations to Capt. Adrian Holler and the crew of the Sea Striker for winning the Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament last weekend. They caught (and released) two white marlin and one blue marlin.
Congratulations also to Capt. Hal Wells and the crew of the Remedy. They caught a 52 pound king mackerel to win the East Coast Got-Em-On Classic King Mackerel Tournament.
The only tournament scheduled for this weekend is the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series event in Southport. For more information visit www.flwoutdoors.com or call 270-252-1000.
The King of the Cape Classic will be held in Southport on July 21 and 22. This tournament raises money for the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association (www.lbara.com) and Brunswick County Special Olympics. For the past several years they have exceeded their 150 boat minimum field and added places and increased the prize payouts above the posted amounts. For more details visit www.kingofthecapeclassic.com.