Well, we cooled a little over the weekend and early week from the sweltering heat of the past few weeks, but the temperatures are slowly creeping up again. Except for the lightning, I didn't mind the clouds and rain last weekend--it helped keep things cool. For those of you who think I should add thunder to my dislikes in a storm, I'm glad to hear thunder. It means the last lightning bolt missed. Ask any survivor of a lightning strike--they didn't hear the thunder from the bolt that struck them!
I really disliked hearing the National Weather Service adding the possibility of more hurricanes this year. We could use a year with low numbers, but the water has been exceptionally hot and that can enhance their formation and strengthening.
We dodged another one this week when Tropical Storm Harvey quickly formed but spun off towards Bermuda and the open Atlantic. Beware; it hasn't even been declared a tropical depression yet, but another tropical wave is organizing off Africa.
This weekend's weather is looking pretty good. The forecast has the winds light, at around 5 to 10 knots from the south and southeast. Of course the forecast includes heat, plus possible showers and thunderstorms.
"The billfish are chewing," is a common quote heard throughout many Crystal Coast marinas. The most common billfish are white marlin, with good numbers of sailfish, and a few blue marlin. Several grand slams were reported over the past week. The billfish bite has been hot above the Big Rock, up around the 700 line. Right now is the best time I can remember to try and record a grand slam off the NC coast.
The sailfish are chasing bait all over and get close to the beach at times. Many have been reported by king mackerel fishermen. There was an inshore bite last Saturday off Carolina Beach and Southport. We were fishing within easy sight of land and had a really big sail on long enough to get excited about it. It was so close when the hooks pulled the stretch of the line popped the rig back into the boat. Those size 6 treble hooks are no match for a sailfish's mouth.
Right now is an excellent time to find a sailfish in range of a smaller boat. I have an article in the August NC Sportsman about catching these fish. In the article I talk about catching them while king mackerel fishing and then add some excellent ideas from Capt. Al Edwards regarding specifically targeting them. I think you will find the information helpful.
Dolphin continue to be caught almost everywhere. Several smaller ones have been caught as close in as the Beaufort Inlet Sea Buoy. Just about any spot in 50 feet of clean water, that is holding bait, could be a good spot to find a few smaller dolphin. On that same ill-fated sailfish encounter last Saturday, we caught several dolphin including one 14 pounder and we never lost sight of the beach.
In spite of the hot water, some king mackerel have moved in close to the beach. For several weeks there has been a pretty good bite around many of the inlets. For those king fishing this weekend, the king bite should be good at Beaufort, Cape Fear River and Carolina Beach Inlets.
Fishermen on the piers are still seeing a mixed catch. It includes a variety of bottom fish, Spanish mackerel and an occasional king mackerel. A pair of kings (31 and 18 pounds) were landed at Bogue Inlet Pier during the rain on Sunday.
Flounder fishing has been steadily improving. Check out the flounders near the inlets and on the nearshore rocks and reefs.
There are speckled trout in the deeper holes with cooler water at many places along the coast. Look for places the trout can hide and some moving current. Live shrimp, fished under popping corks, are a treat the trout can't refuse.
Large red drum and tarpon are in Pamlico Sound. They are primarily in the triangle between the Neuse River Entrance Marker, Brant Island Shoals and Cedar Island. The tarpon are in the deeper water, while the drum are in shallower water around the points and islands. The tarpon prefer feeding during daylight, while the drum favor the late afternoons and evenings.
There are also some tarpon along the east beach of Bald Head Island and in the deeper sloughs behind the island. The trout and drum fishermen see them rolling pretty often.
Congratulations to Capt. John Horton and the crew of the Trophy for winning the Ducks Unlimited Band the Billfish Tournament. They topped a 3-way tie with a 12.8 pound gamefish. Capt. Bryan Edwards and the Reel Krazy claimed the win in the Greater Wilmington King Mackerel Tournament with a 46 pound king.
This weekend's tournaments are the Island Harbor/KenCraft King Tournament(252-354-3106) in Emerald Isle, the Raleigh Saltwater Sportfishing Club King Mackerel Tournament (919-795-3351) in Atlantic Beach and the Long Bay Lady Anglers King Mackerel Tournament (910-278-7524) in Oak Island.
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 N.C. Sportsman Magazine and visit us on the web at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.