Other than the obsessive humidity, nearly unbearable heat and pop out of nowhere thunderstorms, our weather has been very good for the past few weeks. We even somehow managed to get Tropical Storm Irene to turn off into the ocean and miss us. The swells from the passing storm were barely enough to get the surfers excited and certainly didn't deter fishing in the least.
Even better, there currently isn't anything in the tropics that appears ready to form into the next storm. We aren't halfway through hurricane season yet and are already through the "I" names. Let's hope they continue to find a visit here unappealing.
The weekend's weather looks pretty good. There is even a slight cooling trend in the forecast--if you can call the lower 80's cool. There isn't much wind in the forecast either, but we should see a little from the north and west, before this system moves by. It may breeze up a little early next week, but should not get too bad to go fishing.
Large red drum and tarpon are in Pamlico Sound. The tarpon are biting in the daytime across much of the lower sound and up into the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. One of the more consistent spots is the deeper water of the triangle between the Neuse River Entrance Marker, Brant Island Shoals and Cedar Island.
The drum hold in shallower water around the many points and islands. Off Cedar, Swan and Raccoon Islands and in the entrance to West Bay are good spots to find the larger drum. The drum usually feed better in the late afternoon and evenings.
While speaking of drum, there has been a good puppy drum bite along most of the coast. Numerous good locations are along the edges of the sounds and in the creeks that connect to the sounds and waterway. The drum feed on the shoals where the ducks feed in winter, so don't overlook casting a bait in the shadows of the many duck blinds.
Flounder fishing has been good, especially in the many inlets. Drifting with live mud minnows or mullet minnows is the hot ticket, but bait strips will get a few to bite.
A few more speckled trout were caught this week. Soft plastics will produce and live shrimp are almost like cheating. Some of the better spots have been in the creeks off the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers around Pamlico Sound, the Newport and North Rivers around Morehead City, The White Oak and New Rivers around Swansboro and Sneads Ferry, and the Cape Fear and Elizabeth Rivers around Southport.
Fishermen on the piers are seeing a variety that includes pompano, sea mullet, spots, flounder, trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and an occasional king mackerel.
There are king mackerel holding close to the beach. For several weeks there has been a pretty good bite around the inlets. This week there have been some large kings at the Cape Fear River Channel and east of Cape Lookout Shoals.
Dolphin continue to be caught almost everywhere. The key seems to be clean water, some bait and enough structure to concentrate the bait.
Our great summer billfish bite continues. White marlin are still the most frequent catch, followed by sailfish and then blue marlin. The billfish bite has been best above the Big Rock, up around the 700 line, but there have also been catches to the south.
As long as there is warm water and plenty of bait, the sailfish should stay close to the beaches. Most of the nearshore sailfish catches have been reported by king mackerel fishermen, who were all pleasantly surprised.
Congratulations to Lonnie Jones and the crew of the Carolina Bandit for catching a 48 pounder to win the Sneads Ferry King Mackerel Tournament. Cathie Sykes, fishing on the Victory Lap, was the Top Lady Angler in the Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies only Billfish Tournament, while the Calcutta, with Capt. Butch Monds, claimed the Top Boat honors. As I write this, the Stream Weaver, with Capt. Ben Smith, is leading the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament.
This weekend's tournament is the Topsail Offshore Fishing Club King Mackerel Tournament (919-828-3045) in Surf City.