It warmed up very warm after our small cold front last week, but another is moving our way as I am writing this. It will be chilly Saturday morning, but the daytime temperatures will be back in the mid to high 70's beginning Sunday afternoon.
This time we've got a little mullet blow coming with it. The forecast has the winds Friday morning from the west, but swinging to the north in the afternoon and starting to blow. A small craft advisory is posted for Friday afternoon through Saturday Morning and the northerly winds may blow up to 30 knots. The wind will hold at 15-20 through Sunday and fall back to 10-15, with warming temperatures on Monday.
There have been some scattered good reports of many of the cooler water fish and this may be the front that kicks everything into high gear. The water temperature is still 75 degrees at Bogue Inlet Pier, but weekly fronts should cool it into the high 60's pretty quickly. Get your sweatshirts and windbreakers ready 'cause as the weather and water cools the fishing will get even hotter.
Our inshore fishing is good. Several guides have proclaimed it as the best in recent memory. There are still some areas stained red from all the rainwater runoff after Tropical Storm Ernesto, but most are clearing up well.
The flounder fishermen are doing well along the drops at the edges of many channels, where the falling tide washes bait out of smaller creeks and around the inlets. In addition, many trout and drum fishermen are catching some incidental flounder (Boy, that's a good problem isn't it--catching unplanned flounder) in the channels and flats well up in the marshes. There are still some "shorts", but the majority are keepers.
I was one of the fishermen this week catching some of those unintended flounder. I was fishing a shallow area off the lower Cape Fear River and caught 4 flounder while drum fishing with a glow-color Gulp shrimp. Three were keepers and two were pretty nice, so I invited them home to be the guests of honor for supper. Yum!
The speckled trout and drum fishing is going very good in the marshes and coastal creeks. Several guides have also reported catching a few larger drum in the surf. Once the water cools a few more degrees, this should get even better. Many folks are still using live shrimp and minnows, but plastic grubs and shrimp and some hard baits are also producing.
It is about time for the fall run from Cape Lookout to Cape Hatteras. There will probably also be some nice old drum caught at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and the Bald Head Island State Natural Area. You can buy a permit to drive on the beach at the Fort Fisher State recreation Area, but the access to Bald Head Island State Natural Area is by foot from Fort Fisher or by boat from the lower Cape Fear River or through The Basin and bays from Federal Point at Fort Fisher.
We should see some great drum being caught (and released) this week and weekend as the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Tour holds its championship in Morehead City in Conjunction with the N.C. Seafood Festival. The take-offs and weigh-ins will be from the Morehead City Waterfront each morning and afternoon, Friday through Sunday. A boat show will also accompany the events and be held at the Morehead City N.C. State Ports.
Gray trout have are being caught in the turning basin and along the edges of the Beaufort Inlet Channel. There have also been some good catches of grays around the high-rise bridges between Morehead City and Atlantic Beach or Radio Island. Night time is a good time to catch some larger grays chasing bait in the lights under the bridges.
The large drum in Pamlico Sound bit again this week, but should soon be moving closer to the inlets. I don't know that this front will be the one to do it, but as the water temperature continues to drop the inland bite will taper off and these drum will begin heading towards the ocean. Off Cedar Island, Swan Island, Raccoon Island and the point of Marsh at the end of the Neuse River have all been good locations to hook one of these trophy fish.
The spots continue to tease fishermen throughout the area. There are periodic bites at lots of places, but they haven't locked up the entire area as they often do. Right now the most consistent bite has been in Gallants Channel. There are also spots being caught from the piers and in the stretch between where Bogue Inlet enters the Intracoastal Waterway and the Emerald Isle Bridge. Bloodworms and the Fishbites synthetic bloodworms have been the baits of choice.
There have also been some good pier catches of Spanish mackerel, especially in the mornings. These are larger fall Spanish and are lots of fun on plugging tackle. Other pier catches include pompano, bluefish, flounder, sea mullet, red drum, black drum, croakers, and trout.
There are schools of nice Spanish out around Cape Lookout. They are off the end of the jetty and spread towards the surf at the cape. One of the better locations for the past two weeks has been on Cape Lookout Shoals, near Shark Island in 10 to 20 feet of water.
The fall king mackerel are teasing fishermen also. There are some sporadic nice catches, but the big fall run hasn't started yet. That could change after this blow and full moon. Bait is plentiful, so they should be arriving at any time. Mid-October is when they usually fire up so good off the Cape Lookout jetty and out to the Trawler Buoy and Barge Wreck.
There were excellent reports of kings from off Southport and Oregon Inlet this week, so they are definitely moving and feeding. The Oregon Inlet kings were mostly teenagers, but there were some big fish at Southport. If the front doesn't interfere, there should be a very impressive leader board at the US Open KMT.
There were several excellent weather days this week and the offshore boats found good catches of wahoo and dolphin. A few tuna and sailfish were also caught. The report has the best bite occurring along the edge of the 100 fathom break between the 350 and 550 lines. Some impressive wahoo catches also came from around the 90 Foot Drop out towards the Big Rock. There were also some kings mixed with the wahoo.
The fall offshore bottom fishing is going well and getting better. The headboats, charter boats and private boats are all reporting good catches of grouper, beeliners, black sea bass and grunts.
The only tournament last weekend was the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association Club Challenge from Oak Island. The winning clubs were the Holden Beach Fishing Club (king mackerel) and the Charlotte Offshore Sportfishing Club (flounder). Al Fulford and the King Creecher crew had the largest king at just over 39 pounds, while Fred Davis and Hank Martinez topped the individual flounder category with a flatfish of just over 5 pounds. All proceeds are given to the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association (www.lbara.com) for reef projects.
This weekend the Drum Inlet King Mackerel Tournament (252-225-8741) is scheduled from Beaufort, the US Open King Mackerel Tournament (910-457-6964, www.usopenkmt.com) is scheduled from Southport and the Nags Head Surf Fishing Club Invitational Tournament (252-441-1670) is scheduled from Nags Head.