Hey, for a pleasant change the sea conditions started laying out late Friday and improved through Monday. The calming crossed the coast from north to south, but by noon Sunday it was almost "flat calm" all the way to South Carolina. Unfortunately, by the time this hits the newsstands, the winds will be blowing again. Hopefully they will lay out again for the upcoming weekend.
The cooler weather did seem to make some of the fish more active. It certainly dropped the water temperature a couple of degrees. Tuesday, I fished just off the beach and had water temps in the lower 80's. Then on Sunday, as I crossed these same waters they were down to 79 degrees. Another indicator of the increased activity is the schools of bait moving down the beaches. For you fishermen who are light lining for Spanish or flounder fishing, there were school after school of finger mullet running down the beach both days.
Since I mentioned the nearshore bait in the ocean, I should also mention the good flounder bite that is going on off Oak Island. Yaupon Reef (AR 425) and McGlammery Reef (AR 420) have both been holding lots of nice flounder. While there have been some shorts and barely legal fish, the average has probably been at least several pounds. Remember, in the ocean the minimum size for flounder is 15-1/2 inches and the limit is 8 per person.
In those same locations, the Spanish mackerel are also feeding like crazy. While flounder fishing and watching them swim around and under the boat for over an hour, we dug a small piece of light wire out of the tackle bag, added a small treble hook, and light lined a finger mullet out behind the boat. In a manner of minutes, the light rod was bent over and the reel screaming. This was repeated numerous times during the day. A charter boat circled just off the reef, having similar results until they limited out and departed.
Farther offshore, the cooling water seems to have rejuvenated the dolphin bite also. There were numerous reports of dolphin limits late last week and Monday. Maybe the king mackerel will move into this cooling water also. There are some kings scattered all along the NC coast, but the consistency just isn't there yet.
I tried my luck for the African pompano on Sunday, but struck out. I can't tell if it was the weather, timing, or whatever. There are still some being caught along, but Sunday, Frying Pan Tower, and the nearby wrecks that I tried were not the place.
Back in the marshes, the higher tides of the new moon moved some red drum well up into the grass. With high tides near the middle of the day, they were easy to spot and cast to. Weedless lures work best here and the Johnson Silver Minnow spoon in gold is an all-time favorite. It wobbles rather than spins and will work through some pretty thick stuff. You may also want to switch to one of the super braid lines in this situation, as there are way too many things in the grass than will shred small mono.
Speckled trout are also showing early and late in the day. As long as we have cool mornings this should continue. Soft plastics are very versatile and easy to use, but the excitement of a hog trout slamming a topwater plug is something else. Typically just cast it towards the structure or shore and twitch it back towards deeper water. An occasional pause sets it up to be hammered as soon as it moves again.
Ladyfish are showing up all along the coast. Nighttime is best around bridges and well-lighted piers. Surface running lures or near the surface lures and flies are hot baits. Cast out to near the edges of the light and get ready. These fish are hot and wild. They don't get referred to as being like miniature tarpon for nothing. They will put your trout and/or bass tackle to the test.
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 North Carolina Sportsman Magazine and visit us on the web at www.northcarolinasportsman.com.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver