Before I talk about the weather forecast for this weekend, let me say it was really missed last weekend. Sure there was a storm Sunday, but the howling winds and high seas predicted for Friday and Saturday never materialized. Many fishermen, especially those who braved the forecast to fish in the US Open and Drum Inlet King Mackerel Tournaments said, with the exception of a nasty squall on Friday (which stayed along the beach and missed most of the fishermen), Friday and Saturday were two of the best days on the water so far this fall.
With that out of the way, there is another slight mullet blow forecast for this Friday, with the conditions improving throughout the weekend. Fridays winds are projected at 15 to 25 knots from the northwest, depending on which part of the coast you are at, and then falling out Saturday and becoming southwest to variable at less than 10 knots on Sunday. The weather will be cooler again, with highs in the upper 60's to 70 and then warming with the southwest winds back into the mid-70's by Monday. Overall, it looks like a nice fall weekend.
Our water temperature is still hanging in at 75 degrees at Bogue Inlet Pier. This is noticeably warmer than usual for this time of year, but it should cool into the high 60's at any time.
Last week I said our inshore fishing is good and that several guides had proclaimed it as the best in recent memory. That was backed up by comments from many of the visiting pros from last weekend's Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Tour Championship in Morehead City. These fishermen, who travel all over the country chasing red drum, said our fishery compares to those in Florida and even in Louisiana. They said they were very happy to find the numbers of aggressive drum waiting for them.
In addition to the inshore drum, several guides have reported catching them in the surf. There is an almost continuous stream of finger mullet moving down the beaches, so this shouldn't be much of a surprise. Some larger drum are also showing in the surf at Cape Lookout, Drum Inlet, Portsmouth Island and Ocracoke Inlet.
Flounder fishing is still going strong. The flounder should be moving towards the inlet, but they aren't. Perhaps the warmer than usual water has slowed this migration. Whatever it is--no one is complaining.
The flounder are biting well along edges of deeper channels and around the mouths of smaller creeks, where baitfish and shrimp wash out with the tides. There are also good numbers of flounder being caught at the nearshore artificial reefs.
Our speckled trout fishing has been good for a while and is getting better. Many guides have commented on the number of trout this early in the fall and how aggressive they are in the warm water. The trout are in the coastal marshes all along the state and are beginning to gather at the Cape Lookout Jetty.
Gray trout are being caught in the Morehead City Turning Basin, along the edges of the Beaufort Inlet Channel and under the Atlantic Beach and Radio Island Bridges. During the evenings they gather around the bridges to chase the baitfish attracted by the lights. They should also be showing up at the Masonboro Inlet Jetties, Johns Creek Rock and the WOFES, but I haven't gotten any reports yet.
Another run of yellowbelly spots came through parts of the coast this week. They continue to be sporadic, but patience is usually rewarded with a good catch. It is a matter of time and tide working together. Right now an evening high tide is usually best, but it should become a 24/7 bite at any time. The spots are moving through the Intracoastal Waterway and usually are most prominent at or near where the many inlet channels intersect with the waterway.
There have also been some good pier catches of spots from the piers. The best report this week was at Bogue Inlet Pier, but they should blanket the beaches at any time. Once the spot run begins, they are the predominant catch on the piers, but there are also Spanish mackerel, pompano, bluefish, flounder, sea mullet, red drum, black drum, croakers, and trout.
Schools of Spanish mackerel are spread along the beaches along the entire state. Some really big ones have been caught during the king mackerel tournaments. For several weeks the hot spot for big Spanish has been around Shark Island, on Cape Lookout Shoals.
There have been a few schools of false albacore beginning to mix with the Spanish and move down Shackleford Banks. A few small schools of fat Alberts have also been spotted off Wrightsville Beach. They like just about any small, shiny lure that is moving fast.
The fall king mackerel run is trying to get going, but the warm water is slowing it some. The bite had been hot at the Cape Fear River, but slowed some in the past week. There are some occasional nice catches, but it isn't like it was and hasn't gotten hot again just yet. The fall king bite east of Cape Lookout hasn't gotten hot yet either. Maybe in a few more weeks?
Mid-October is when the kings usually move in on the Cape Lookout Jetty. Many locals believe this will happen as soon as the water temperature falls another few degrees.
The offshore boats continue to find good catches of wahoo and dolphin. There are some tuna off Hatteras and Oregon Inlet and they could be mixing into the southern catches at any time.
If you like grouper, this might be the time to head out after them. The headboats, charter boats and private boats are all reporting good catches, with beeliners, black sea bass and grunts also mixed in. Don't forget to trail a light line for a wandering king or wahoo.
The Oh Boy" OBerto Redfish Championship Tournament was held in Morehead City last Friday through Sunday. Bret Butler and Nick Gerogepoulos, from Cape Coral, Florida came from third place on Saturday to claim the win on Sunday. Their Friday and Saturday combined weight (2 fish per day) was 26.76 pounds and their Sunday winning weight (2 fish) was 11.97 pounds. All the fish in this tournament were released to stay in the area and please more fishermen.
Phil Cottrell and the Long Overdue crew won the Drum Inlet King Mackerel Tournament with a king of just over 40 pounds. John Gertz and the Knockin' Fire crew topped the US Open King Mackerel Tournament with a king of 39 pounds. Congratulations to both captains and crews.
The CCA Inside and Out Tournament will be held this Friday and Saturday from Morehead Marine in Morehead City and Town Creek Marina in Beaufort. The eligible species are: Inshore--red drum, flounder, trout and false albacore; Offshore--king mackerel, tuna, dolphin, wahoo and billfish. For more information visit www.ccanc.org.