I hope you like your weather hot and humidity high, 'cause that's what we've got right now. If you are looking for something else, the Carolina coast is not where you need to be. As one of my neighbors said earlier in the week, "It will cool down eventually--we call it winter." I don't think it's quite that bad, but it sure has been exceptionally warm for a few weeks.
We will have slightly breezy conditions this weekend and maybe that will make it feel a little cooler. Unfortunately it will also make the ocean a little rougher. Around Cape Fear the forecast is for southwesterly winds of 10-15 knots, which is manageable. Unfortunately, north of Cape Lookout, it is a little stronger with southwest winds of 15-20 knots. Monday looks a little nicer at 10-15.
This weak front is backing in after Tropical Storm Beryl vacated the area. If you weren't watching, Tropical Storm Beryl formed off the N.C. coast on Tuesday and blew right on by without any real effect on us. By Friday morning it will be off Connecticut and headed northeast and out to sea. This was a close encounter, but thankfully only a close encounter.
Last weekend, the ocean was a bit rough on Friday and Saturday, but calmed down on Sunday and allowed folks to go fishing. As it has been for over a month now, there were lots of dolphin ready to attack your baits and stretch your string. The dolphin have been biting from just a few miles out the inlets to the Gulf Stream. The nearshore dolphin are mainly smaller fish, but on a calm day almost any ocean worthy boat has a chance to catch some.
The billfish bite continues to be very good also. There are reports of blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish from all along the coast. The hot spot seems to be off Cape Hatteras, but there have also been several days of good action off Cape Lookout and Cape Fear.
During this part of the summer, many fishermen are thinking about king mackerel. The kings had been holding a little offshore, in water around 50-60 feet deep, but they have begun moving towards the beaches and all the bait moving down them.
Once again, the pier fishermen caught the kings well. Since last week's report, they have caught a pair in the 20's, a pair in the high teens and several partial kings from Bogue Inlet Pier, the first king of the year from Sportsman's pier and a pair of high 20's and several teenagers were landed from Ocean Crest Pier. The bait appeared on the beaches several weeks ago and many experts said the kings wouldn't be far behind. It looks like they might have arrived.
The balance of the pier fishing activity is very mixed. There were several reports of tarpon being hooked, but none were landed. There have been enough legal flounder to keep things interesting and this week some slot-size red drum were also caught. The pier catches also include Spanish mackerel, spadefish, bluefish, speckled trout, croakers, small sharks, and pompano.
I only heard of one cobia this week, but it was a 103 pounder caught off Carolina Beach at the 30/30. I thought that was worthy of a mention.
There are Spanish mackerel just outside most inlets and along the beaches. The preferred lure is a 00 size Clarkspoon in silver or gold and the better times are early and late in the day. Several fishermen have enjoyed excellent luck catching larger Spanish by drifting peanut menhaden and finger mullet around the schools they see feeding.
Depending on who you talk to, flounder fishing has been either pretty good or pretty bad. Some of the better flounder spots have been along the edges of deeper channels, around the bars in the inlets and on the nearshore artificial reefs in the ocean.
The red drum have been biting pretty well in the marshes and on the flats around many of the duck blinds in the sounds. The drum are feeding and haven't been too picky about the lures and baits they are eating.
Larger drum are being caught in Pamlico Sound during the late afternoons and evenings. The better areas have been off Swan, Raccoon and Cedar Islands. These drum like big chunks of mullet or menhaden fished on the bottom.
More reports of tarpon are coming from the Pamlico Sound and Neuse River. Generally the better areas are from the Minnesott-Cherry Branch Ferry downriver toward the sound, but several schools of tarpon were reported almost all they way upriver to New Bern.
Congratulations to Capt. Welsh Carson and the crew of the Blue By U. They persevered in the rough seas of last weekend to win the opening round of the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series North Carolina Division. Their winning king weighed just over 27 pounds.
Three tournaments are scheduled for this weekend. The Barta Boys and Girls Billfish Tournament (www.bartaboysandgirlsclubbillfish.com or 252-808-2286) is in Beaufort, the King of the Cape Classic (www.kingofthecapeclassic.com or 910-278-4575) is in Southport and the Dare County Boat Builders Challenge (www.piratescovetournaments.com or 1-800-422-3610) is in Manteo.