Sunday was one of those weather days that start a little scary but settle out before they do any real damage. There was a system down in the Gulf of Mexico that made it up to being named Tropical Storm Bertha, but it was weak, not well-defined, and fell back to below Tropical Storm minimum winds early Monday morning. Closer to home, there was a low that appeared to be gaining some rotation between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras, but it spun on out to sea without ever gaining the strength or definition to be given a Tropical Depression number. Maybe once this bit of rough weather passes, the ocean will settle out for a while.
While there have been some pretty good offshore trips in the last week, it has been breezy at times and made fishing a bit difficult. Dolphin are still the mainstay in most offshore catches, with a few wahoo, some scattered tuna, an occasional king mackerel, and some billfish helping fill the balance of the day. The offshore water is so warm that fishermen are looking for the cool side of a temperature break. The marlins and tuna are pretty much holding to the deeper waters near the Gulf Stream, but wahoo, dolphin, and sailfish have moved much closer to the beach. As soon as the water calms down again, look for these catches to be on the upswing.
With the winds coming from the northerly directions, even the smaller boats can fish fairly comfortably along the south facing beaches. There should be good Spanish mackerel fishing just off the beach, as well as some tarpon, jack crevalle, and a few king mackerel. The cooler temperatures and cloudy days should keep the Spanish Mackerel biting later into the day.
The piers are still seeing a few tarpon, some jack crevalle, and an occasional king out near the ends. Closer to the beach, the spots, sea mullet, pompano and some flounder are biting fairly well. The northerly winds will help clear the water and the pluggers should see more activity from the Spanish mackerel and bluefish.
Speaking of tarpon, the Pamlico Sound silver kings are firing up again after the full moon. The bulk of the action has been in the lower Neuse River and in the sound between the Neuse River, Brant Island Shoal, and Cedar Island. In this same area, the large red drum are making their annual appearance. For a fun combination, try the tarpon during the day and the drum at night. The tarpon have also shown up pretty well around Bald Head Island and Cape Fear.
In the marshes, the red drum continue to provide lots of action. There are also some flounder around many creek mouths, channels and inlets. There had been a slow speckled trout bite in the deeper channels that should improve some with this cooler weather.
Several tournaments were held this weekend in less than favorable conditions. Congratulations first to the Sprinkler Man team of Connie Gore and Lynn West. These ladies claimed the win in the 14th Annual long Bay Lady Anglers King Mackerel Tournament, held Saturday at Southport. Mike Landreth led the Hit-N-Run team to the win at the Island Harbor/KenCraft Challenger King Tournament in Emerald Isle. With a 31.75 on Saturday and a 29.50 on Sunday, the Hit-N-Run's 61.25 pound aggregate weight topped everyone. They also had the third largest king. The About Time used a 5.25 pound dolphin to break a 3-way tie between them, the Anita Jean, and the Lumina to claim the win in the 85 boat Ducks Unlimited Billfish Tournament with two releases.
The weather hasn't been real condusive to making the trip, but there have been scattered reports of good catches of African Pompano at Frying Pan Tower. If the weather lays out some, this might be a good weekend to make that trip. There are also some kings in that same general area, along with some dolphin and huge barracudas and amberjacks. Even if you don't find what you are looking for, there should be something there to stretch your string.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver