This week we've been back to a little more seasonable weather. The mornings haven't been that cool, but cool enough for a jacket, and we've gotten to shirtsleeve weather most afternoons. The water temps didn't warm like I had hoped, but at least they haven't dropped any more. Bogue Inlet Pier is still reporting 58 degrees in the surf.
We are looking at cooler mornings over the weekend. Saturday will still be in the low 50s, but Sunday and Monday are forecast to dip into the chilly 40s. At least the skies are supposed to be sunny except for some sprinkles when the cold front passes through on Saturday.
Hopefully Tropical Storm/Hurricane Paloma will be the last storm of the year. The tropical depression increased to tropical storm intensity early Thursday off the coast of Honduras and is forecast to intensify into a hurricane sometime this afternoon (Friday). The forecast track has Hurricane Paloma crossing Cuba over the weekend and heading into the open Atlantic Ocean after that. We will probably see some swells from this storm late next week, but hopefully no more than that.
A pair of very unusual fishing reports got my attention and I wanted to share them right off. On Sunday, two bonefish were caught. One was near Beaufort and the other was on Surf City Pier. I have seen a picture of the one from the pier. There were a couple caught during the summer and they were a little easier to explain. These last two have been in water many experts say is too cold for bonefish. The easy answer is to cite global warming, but I believe our ongoing drought conditions have played a bigger part in this year's catches.
In spite of some breezy conditions, there have been right many good fishing reports. Offshore has been the most difficult, but the larger boats have made a few bumpy trips and caught fish. Wahoo are the primary target and will be again this weekend with the Calcutta Wahoo Challenge. However, there are still a surprising number of smaller dolphin being caught, plus a few sailfish and a slowly increasing number of blackfin tuna. There are some yellowfin tuna also, but they are primarily from Cape Hatteras to the north.
Speaking of tuna; I received the first report of a bluefin for the fall. It was caught by the Gambler, out of Hatteras, on Halloween. The bluefin was 70 inches long and weighed 190 pounds. Maybe our bluefins will make a strong early appearance this year. It sure would be a welcome boost to the local fishing economy.
A little closer in, there are good reports of big king mackerel east of Cape Lookout. Last weekend, quite a few king boats took advantage of the break in the weather to run up the coast off Hatteras and they said the king bite was on fire. This is approximately a 60 mile run from Cape Lookout, but there were numerous tales of continual hookups with 30 to 40 pound kings.
Some of the king boats east of Cape Lookout also caught wahoo. Several wahoo approaching 100 pounds were reported.
Kings were also caught at other locations along the NC coast including Big 10, 210 Rock, 14 Buoy, Jerry's Reef, Christmas Rock (both), 23 Mile rock, 30/30, the Horseshoe, and the Jungle. Some folks reported running until they reached 67 degree water and others said they stopped at usually productive spots even though the water was a few degrees cool.
The false albacore are making a good showing off Atlantic Beach and Shackleford Banks. There should also be some off Wrightsville, but I haven't gotten a confirmation. The fat alberts are readily hitting small flashy lures and similar flies. The best tactic is to cast to breaking fish and retrieve the lure rapidly.
Pier fishermen are still catching a variety. Some days the spots are hot and heavy and some days they are a little slower. They may be winding down for the year. Other fish being caught from the piers include black drum, red drum, speckled trout, gray trout, flounder, bluefish, blowfish and sea mullet. It's certainly worth putting on a jacket and giving it a try.
Remember the piers will be closing for the winter soon. While individual piers vary a week or so, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is typically the last day for most piers. It would be wise to check with your favorite before making the trip. Some piers also sell the next year's season pass and provide a key, so their regular customers can continue fishing.
Puppy drum have been in the surf zone for a while now and are being joined by more trout now the water is cooling. MirrOlures and a variety of grubs are usually the most effective for this fishing. Many fishermen try to cast too far for the best results. The pups and specks are usually in the first slough off the beach. Several good spots to try are around the inlets and along stretches of beach that don't have lights at night. Some big drum are being caught in Ocracoke Inlet.
I also didn't get as many spot reports from inside this week, so I'm assuming that bite is slowing also. Someone said the number of spot yachts was down over the weekend, which is another indicator that bite is slowing. However, there will still be some good mixed catches from inside the inlets and especially in the Morehead City Turning Basin. Sea mullet, gray trout, bluefish and pigfish are trying to take up the slack.
I've heard some really mixed reports on flounder. Most have been that over half of the flounder are under the minimum size and must be released. However, there have been a couple of catches, including one where I saw pictures, of some really nice flounder, including several of citation size.
This week hasn't been so cold for those fishermen willing to be out at night. The reports of trout, both specks and grays, being caught under the lights of the high-rise bridges at night continue. The word is these trout prefer live baits, but were also hitting grubs.
The gray trout bite has been hot at the WOFES, AR 420 and AR 425 off Southport. Stingsilvers, Jig Fish and Speck rigs have been the hot setup for grays in the ocean.
The Ed Sewell Memorial Speckled trout tournament was held in Swansboro Saturday by the Crystal Coast Fishing Association. Jack and Diane Parkin were the winners.
The Pamlico County Shrine Club Speckled Trout Tournament was held Saturday and John Moore claimed the win with a 12.70 pound aggregate weight. Greg Parker edged Moore for the heaviest trout by a mere .04 pounds with a 5.44 pound speck.
The Fall Brawl King Classic was held in Ocean Isle with participants selecting either Saturday or Sunday to fish. Jason Burton, of Murrells inlet, S.C., and the crew of the Reel Fin-Atic, won with a 35 pounder they caught on Saturday.
The Calcutta Wahoo Challenge began Thursday from the Morehead City waterfront. I spoke with several entered captains on Thursday who had chosen it as their lay day and were optimistic about what they might catch in the better conditions on Friday and Saturday. For more information visit www.calcuttawahoo.com.
The Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Team and Open Individual Invitational Tournaments also began November 6 in Buxton and will continue through November 8. For more information, visit www.capehatterasanglersclub.org.
The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament at Emerald Isle began several weeks ago and continues 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 Friendly City by the Sea Speckled Trout tournament will be held Saturday in Swansboro. The Final Registration and Captains Meeting are Friday evening at Casper's Marina. For more information, visit www.trout.swansboro.biz.