Last week's weather was pretty nice until Friday, but boy did things change overnight and into Saturday. I didn't get out on the water then, but talked to several folks who were fishing tournaments and had to go. They said the cold was a real shock and they were wearing snuggies, heavy coats, raingear and gloves. Pardon me, but that just doesn't sound like much fun. Thankfully the weather moderated some beginning on Monday, getting a little warmer and with subsiding winds.
I had a tuna fishing trip planned for last Sunday from Oregon Inlet. It is an annual trip some of my friends from upstate plan each year and if someone drops out of their six, I get invited. This year I got the invite, but started worrying about it when looking at the long-range forecast. Finally the captain cancelled it on Thursday so we wouldn't come down and not be able to go.
His choice was wise and allowed us to cancel rooms, save the travel costs and try to reschedule. When we called the trip, the offshore forecast for Oregon Inlet on Sunday was 30-40 knots of wind and 9-13 foot seas. This time the forecast was pretty much spot on as the Diamond Shoals Buoy was reporting 29-35 knots and 10.5 foot seas at 10:00 A.M. Sunday morning. As it turns out, it was a good day not to be fishing there.
The good spot run started last week and was still going this week. What is it about cold weather and a stinging nor'easter that makes them bite so well? Some of the pictures I have seen this week have been coolers full of big yellowbelly spots. I hope it continues.
Bogue Inlet Pier reported several days when they caught spots two at a time. Similar reports have come from Gallants Channel and around Middle Marsh. They are beginning to filter in from around the Emerald Isle Bridge and where the Bogue Inlet Channel intersects with the Intracoastal Waterway.
The hot baits for spots have been live bloodworms, Fishbites bloodworm strips, Blurp bait strips and Berkley sandworms. They will also bite shrimp, but not always as good as the bloodworms or synthetic bloodworms. Most spot fishermen use a double drop bottom rig (I like the Sea Striker ones with red beads) with Eagle Claw Series 42 hooks in size 4 or 6.
Other pier and channel catches included black drum, pompano, sea mullet, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and a couple of king mackerel.
Fishermen targeting puppy drum and speckled trout are enjoying good success. I was in Greenville and Fayetteville last week and heard stories of the haystacks in both towns. While the specks will hit a variety of grubs and MirrOlures, live shrimp are an almost guaranteed good bait. Under the lights around the high-rise bridges at night is an excellent place to catch trout.
Lots of puppy drum have moved into the surf along Shackleford Banks and Hammocks Beach State Park. Captains Jeff Cronk and Mike Taylor of Swansboro have been reporting really large schools of upper to over slot drum in Bogue Inlet and down the beach to Bear Inlet.
There are also a fair number of flounder being caught, but many are shorts (15.5 inch minimum length) and must be released. The shoals in Beaufort Inlet and along the jetties at Fort Macon have been holding good numbers of flounder.
Even though the weather early last week allowed crossing Lookout Shoals, the king bite in the Dead Tree Hole, off the Cape lookout Jetty and out to the Rock Barge was good enough many fishermen didn't bother with the longer run. With the cold front and strong northeast winds that swept in over the weekend, it was even tough fishing these spots, but some kings were still holding there.
Spanish mackerel bit well again this week and into the weekend, but many fishermen feel they are just about done for the year. Once the water temperature drops below 70, they will be headed for warmer climes. If you want some more Spanish this year, you should try to get them quickly.
Lots of folks were watching the weather forecasts and tried hard last week to get in some fishing before the cold front and blow moved in over the weekend. One of the best catches of the year came just after I had sent last week's report in, but was so good I felt I had to go back and mention it.
The wahoo bite has been pretty good for the last few weeks and was getting better. Not only were the offshore boats catching them around the 90 Foot Drop, the Big Rock and Swansboro Hole, but the king mackerel boats were finding them mixed in with the kings at many of the popular fall king spots east of Cape Lookout. Billy Brock, Sr. of Goldsboro tied into one on Oct. 15 that missed tying the IGFA 20 Pound Line Class Record by only 1 pound. The 114 pound wahoo hit a double-pogy rig and took 3 hours and 45 minutes to land.
Brock was fishing with his son, Billy, Jr. and a friend on the SIB Fishing, a Mercury-Powered KenCraft Challenger, just east of Cape Lookout on AR 285. He fought the fish on a Shimano live-bait outfit using a Trinidad 20 reel. Brock, Jr. said they were 5 1/2 miles offshore from where they hooked the big wahoo when they finally boated him. The big hoo was 72 inches long and 33 inches in girth. Congratulations!
The N.C. State Parks are asking for our input in a survey for a N.C. Parks Statewide Plan update. The survey is about the recreational resource needs for state parks and is just a few questions they believe will be helpful in planning future facilities and programs. Several of the questions are about fishing piers and boat ramps. The survey closes Nov. 7. To take part in the survey, visit www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=g9lToqZTXiQqIuIDWgPdbA_3d_3d.
While it's a ways away, it's such a neat idea I felt I had to mention it. Perhaps someone might want to go or maybe mention it to one of the area recreation departments. The Oak Island Parks & Recreation Department and Ocean Crest Pier are sponsoring a haunted fishing derby on Oct 30th from 5-7 P.M. at Ocean Crest Pier. The derby is free and open to all youth ages 12 and under. All kids who wear a costume will receive a goodie bag. There will be many prizes for a variety of categories such as: Most fish caught, Largest fish, Scariest fish, Ugliest fish, Haunted fish, etc. Participants should bring their own rod and bait. For more information call 910-278-5518.
There were several tournaments over the weekend. Closest to home, the Drum Inlet King Mackerel Tournament was held in Beaufort over the weekend. The rough seas kept the number of boats low, but several nice kings were caught. The Fish Meister, with Capt. Dean Spatholt, won with a 33 pounder.
The FLW Kingfish Tour was in Wrightsville Beach over the weekend for their final qualifying tournament of 2008. The leading king at the end of the first two days and largest fish of the tournament was a 34 pound, 13 ounce king caught by the eventual second place finishers, Team Barbara Ann of Jacksonville, Fla. In FLW Kingfish Tour events, all participants fish Friday and Saturday, with the top five fishing again on Sunday. Of the five teams that fished Sunday, Team Black Gold, led by Capt. Don Williamson of Lumberton, was the only team to catch a weighable king. Their 14 pound, 1 ounce fish gave them a combined weight of 44 pounds, 14 ounces and vaulted them from fifth place to the win.
A few of tournaments are on tap for this weekend and the Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament at Emerald Isle has started and runs through November 29. For more information visit www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd or call the Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation Department at 252-354-6350.
The Calcutta Wahoo Challenge will be held from the Morehead City Waterfront October 23-25. For more information visit www.calcuttawahoo.com.
The Cedar Point King Mackerel Tournament that was postponed from two weeks ago will be held in Swansboro. For more information call 252-342-3589.
The Pamlico County Shrine Club Speckled trout Tournament will be held in Grantsboro on Saturday. For more information call 252-249-2084.
The Pleasure Island Surf fishing Challenge will be held at Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. For more information call 910-264-5487.
The Fall Brawl King Classic will be held in Ocean Isle. Friday is the Final Registration and Captains Meeting, with participants choosing either Saturday or Sunday to fish. For more information, visit www.oifc.com or call 910-575-3474.