There is no doubt the temperature is a little cooler this week and the humidity is far more tolerable also. I don't know about you readers, but I'm ready for it. In fact, I'm ready for both to drop about another 10 degrees and points. We will probably have another heat wave before the cooler fall weather arrives, but hopefully it won't be as hot as that blast furnace at the end of July and the beginning of August.
The light northeast breezes have been nice this week also. The only real negative I've noticed with them is the biting black flies have come out of the wooded sections around the beach and ICW and are attacking fishermen and beachgoers like sea gulls on shrimp boat culls.
There has been a low pressure cell off lower S.C. we have been watching this week as it showed some potential for development. As of this morning, the conditions have changed and the weather experts say it shouldn't strengthen.
Even with it continuing to hang around down there, our forecast doesn't look too bad. The temps should stay cooler, the humidity lower and the winds will continue at less than 15 knots through the weekend. The wind will remain from the northeast into the early weekend, then work through the east to the southeast and finally back around to the southwest by early next week. All the forecasts include a little rain.
The fishing that is accessible to the most people is the inshore and nearshore varieties and they are going well. The primary species here are red drum, speckled trout, flounder and Spanish mackerel and all are around in good numbers, plus a few friends and relatives.
Some of the best flounder are coming from fishermen targeting the nearshore ocean artificial reefs, but there are good numbers of nice flounder in inside waters also.
The nearshore flounder stage around the reefs and feed on the minnows seeking shelter there. The inside flounder are around the mouths of smaller creeks, along the edges of channels and other places where the moving tide will sweep baitfish by them.
Red drum have been biting well all summer in most of the larger salt marsh areas along the NC coast. Several of these include the Bald Head Marshes, Topsail Sound Marshes, Southern Bogue Sound, Newport Marshes, Middle Marsh, North River Marshes, Core Sound Marshes behind Core Banks and most of the marshes around Pamlico Sound. The drum have also been feeding on the shoals and around the duck blinds throughout all the sounds. They will move into shallow water and well up into the marshes as the tide rises and then back to nearby deeper water as the tide falls.
As I mention this, I should point out the military has issued a warning for unexploded ordinance around Wood Island in Bogue Sound. Wood Island is located at approximately 34.41N and 076.57W or between the eastern end of Emerald Isle and the ICW. This is an old bombing range. No ordinance should ever be moved by persons not trained for the job.
One of the highlights of this time of year is the large red drum and tarpon in the Pamlico Sound and lower Neuse River. Over the past week, the drum action has been really good off Cedar Island and up past the entrance to West Bay. The tarpon fishing has been better in the deeper water between the Neuse River entrance and Brant Island Shoals, plus up the Neuse River near the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Ferry. The tarpon are typically a daytime fishery and the big red drum usually bite better during the evenings. Last week the drum often bit during the day.
There has also been an improving tarpon bite from Frying Pan Shoals, at Cape Fear, up to Fort Fisher. The tarpon are cruising the beaches and sloughs through the shoals. A few tarpon have also been seen rolling in the deeper sections of Muddy Slough and around Shellbed Island, between Bald Head Island and Southport.
There have been some occasional good pompano catches in the surf, but that should begin improving just as soon as the water begins to cool. Some of the pier catches have also slowed during the heat of summer. The pier catches have been mostly Spanish, bluefish and flounder, with some pompano, drum, spadefish, sheepshead, small sharks, and a few sea mullet.
The action picked up again this week around the ends of the piers. Several kings and a 107 pound tarpon were landed at Bogue Inlet Pier. Similar action occurred at Ocean Crest Pier, with an 80 pound tarpon. Several other piers had comparable action with kings and even a few more tarpon were hooked, but not landed.
Spanish mackerel continue to be the most reliable nearshore fish. Trollers, pluggers and live bait fishermen have all been catching them regularly. The best times have been very early and very late in the day. Once the sun is high in they sky they seem to get lockjaw. If you experience this, many experts say downsizing your baits will usually entice a few Spanish to feed, even in the heat.
King mackerel are moving around the area also. There have been king reports from the beaches to well offshore. Some large kings have some from east of Cape Lookout in the past few weeks and a few more were caught in the Cape Fear River Ship Channel.
The offshore bite is mostly dolphin and wahoo, except north of the Big Rock. The incredible billfish bite of the last several weeks has moved a little northward, but may have stalled again. The offshore boats are also catching an occasional king and tuna.
Congratulations are in order for several skippers and crews who excelled during last weekend's tournaments. Capt. Mark Deans, with his son Ashton, won the weather shortened Sneads Ferry King Mackerel Tournament with a 30 pounder. The crew of ladies on the Pelican topped the Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament with 8 white marlin releases. They were led by Summer McCarver, who claimed the Top Lady Angler Award by releasing 4 of them herself. During this tournament, 80 teams of ladies released 129 billfish in one day.
The Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament is still fishing as I am writing this. The bite had slowed some early in the week and the Point Runner was leading with 6 white marlin releases. This is the final event in the 2006 N.C. Governor's Cup Series and most participants expect the bite to fire back up for the final 2 days.
There is only one tournament on the schedule this weekend. The Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series will be in Southport-Oak Island for the second tournament in the N.C. Division. The field of 100 boats is filled and the weigh-in will be at South Harbor Village Marina on Saturday afternoon. For more information on the FLW Kingfish tournaments, visit www.flwoutdoors.com or call 270-252-1000.