Welcome to the first mullet blow of the fall. I feel for the organizers and anglers in the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament this weekend, but in the long run this blow should be beneficial as it cools the water some and gets the fall fish biting. I have been out in some of the backwaters this week (I was hiding from the northeast winds roaring across the ocean) and it sure has the mullet minnows and other baitfish moving.
Unfortunately, with this northeast wind and heavy southerly seas, we have a small craft advisory posted through Monday. If you go fishing, the well-protected inshore waters should be your primary destination. You can do this in better safety and use less fuel. We should be watching our fuel usage right now and I don't know about all of you, but I also have to conserve my fuel dollars.
September is regarded as the peak of the hurricane season and the hurricane activity has greatly increased in just over a week. Last week as I was writing this, there was only Tropical Depression Lee on the horizon. Since then we have seen Hurricanes Maria and Nate pass by and are watching Tropical Storm Ophelia as it wanders off the southeast coast and threatens to also become a hurricane over the weekend.
The northeast winds have stirred up the catch in the surf and from the piers. The southerly facing beaches have fairly clean water once you get past the breaking waves and out for a mile or so, but the water is dirty and mixed up along the easterly facing beaches.
One huge catch came from Bogue Inlet Pier on Wednesday. After a battle that lasted over an hour and a half, Jesse Lockowitz landed a 175 pound tarpon. Lockowitz's catch should be proclaimed the new state record as it surpasses John Freeman's current record of 164 pounds. Freeman's huge tarpon was caught at the old Indian Beach Pier in 1978.
Other than that, the mixture of fish from the piers and surf includes pompano, sea mullet, spots, flounder, trout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and an occasional king mackerel.
There have been tarpon and large red drum in the lower Pamlico Sound, near the Neuse River and Cedar Island. This blow should move the tarpon back out into the ocean to begin their southerly migration, but the drum should remain for a while.
If the wind settles out soon, you may be able to intercept some of these tarpon as they move down the east beach of Bald Head Island and approach Frying Pan Shoals. They often hang out in the cleaner water right beside the shoals for a couple of weeks before continuing their journey south.
Smaller drum have been biting pretty consistently in the creeks and marshes off the sounds and Intracoastal Waterway.
Flounder fishing has been fairly good, especially in the inlets and the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs. The flounder bite at Snows Cut has also improved over the last few weeks.
There hasn't been a lot of offshore fishing over the past week due to schools starting upstate, vacations ending and that darn north wind. There are some dolphin, wahoo, an occasional tuna and even a few billfish still around.
This weekend is the Atlantic Beach King Mackerel Tournament (252-247-2334). The registration, special events and awards will be in the parking lot at Outer Banks Outfitters and the daily weigh-ins will be at Seawater Marina.
Next weekend the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour will make its final regular season stop in Southport. While I hate it for the folks from the Gulf Coast, the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour Championship Tournament has been relocated from D'Iberville, Mississippi to Morehead City and Atlantic Beach. The dates for that event are October 12 to 15.
The Wal-Mart FLW Championship tournament follows a unique format, which is much like the championship bass tournaments. All 50 of the qualifiers will fish on Thursday and Friday in a single big fish format. After Friday, places 6 through 50 will be determined. The top 5 boats will fish one more day on Saturday and each of them will have a camera on board. All the Wal-Mart FLW tournaments are broadcast on the FLW Outdoors Show on the Fox Sports Network.
The folks from the Gulf Coast continue to need our help to recover from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. Many local churches and civic groups are organizing relief drives to help them out. You can also assist them by donating to the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org or 1-800 HELP NOW (435-7669) or Salvation Army (www.salvationarmy.org or 1-888-363-2769).