While the crowds have been seriously tapering off since schools started again, Labor Day Weekend is generally regarded as the end of the high tourist season. While summer usually seems so short, this one has felt a little longer. The intense heat and lack of rain has made time pass slowly for some of us and crawl to a standstill for others. Hopefully, the weather will relax some during the fall, without going overboard to cold and wet weather. The most telling remark of the season was one I overheard a few days ago. The gentlemen seriously stated, "If we could have the rains of a storm like Hurricane Floyd, without the winds and all the damage, I'd start praying for it tonight!"
The lack of rain has accounted for many of the things we usually associate with it and even a few more. Except for those few farmers with adequate irrigation means, the farm crops are literally burning up in the fields. Many inland lakes and ponds are so low that their use has been prohibited and, in many cases, impossible anyway. Various stages of water use bans are in effect all over. Some really disturbing news came last week, when one of the plants in the Acme-Delco/Riegelwood area reported that they may have to shut down as the water they were drawing from the Cape Fear River was too high in salinity levels for them to use. This plant is located between Wilmington and Fayetteville.
Many corporate developments, property owner associations, and even individuals have turned to private well water to water lawns, flower beds, and shrubs. While this may sound good at first, this practice continues to strain underground water supplies that many rural families rely on for all their water needs. With reports of wells going dry in some areas, I'd call this a real concern. While I was first put off by the remark about rains like Hurricane Floyd, I certainly wouldn't want to wish anyone any harm, but I would gladly put up with several weeks of rainy weather to get headed back towards a more normal weather pattern.
Our coastal fishing continues to be good in some areas and not so good in others. When fishing inshore, there are days that it is real easy to see how well the Red Drum Management Plan is working. If we don't get too happy and relax the regulations, coastal NC will soon become a prime travel destination for dedicated red drum fishermen. From Pups to old drum, they are biting well right now.
Flounder fishing continues to be pretty good also, with a good ratio of keepers inside the inlets and a higher percentage of shorts in the ocean. If the flounder respond to stricter management policies as well as the drum, they will be in excellent shape in a few years.
Spanish mackerel are all along the coast, but can be a little frustrating during the heat of the day. Two things will help you catch more. One is to go to smaller lures and lighter terminal gear and the other is to switch to live bait. Many citation size Spanish are being caught on light lined finger mullet almost daily. A surprising number are eating large pogies, that were intended for King Mackerel.
Dolphin still headline the offshore fishing, while the kings are finally showing in many of their favorite nearshore haunts. Once again they bit from Ocracoke to Georgetown. Several larger kings came from around Drum Inlet. The king bite at the Cape Fear River tried to get going, but the grass was so thick you needed a lawnmower to keep your lines and baits clean. Maybe that will happen this weekend.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver