The warming trend we are seeing in the middle of this week is very welcome and almost appears truly fall-like. Unfortunately, it is forecast to go away this weekend as we return to highs in the 50's again. I sure do like the warmer days and wish the weather would settle out. I guess this is what we got for hoping our extra warm early fall would cool off some.
Thanksgiving is next Thursday and we all have reasons to be thankful. One collective reason is being spared after so many hurricanes were predicted. Hopefully we will have that same reason again next year.
Thanksgiving is the last big weekend of the fall and many folks will be closing up their beach houses for the winter. Even some businesses will be closing. Several piers have already announced they will close on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so if you want to wet a line from a pier this year, you better hurry. Sometimes several piers remain open a little longer, but it would be wise to call in advance and be sure.
I'm doing this report a little early this week as I prepare to head out to Biloxi, Mississippi for the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship Tournament. Many local anglers will also be making the trek for the annual event. Hopefully one of us will find the key to bring the championship title back to N.C. again.
This week the talk has been about speckled trout and red drum. The growing reports and my own experience agree that these fish deserve the attention right now. The drum have been biting for a while, but the cooler water has gotten the trout feeding too.
Several trout experts have said the past mild winters have allowed the trout numbers to increase dramatically. Like many folks, I was hoping I was becoming a better trout fisherman, but the truth is probably just that I'm just getting my larger share of the improving stocks. I am finding more larger fish than in the past though.
The drum and trout are still holding at most of their favorite haunts in the marshes and creeks, plus more trout are moving into the surf. Both are around in pretty good numbers at the Cape Lookout, Fort Macon and Masonboro Inlet Jetties. Good reports are also coming from the guides in the lower Neuse River and Pamlico Sound.
Good catches of king mackerel are still being reported also. The kings have moved offshore a little following the bait moving through the cooling water. There have been good reports of small to medium kings at many rocks and wrecks in 60 feet of water and deeper.
Other reports have the larger fall kings in Raleigh Bay, between Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras. Many Morehead City, Atlantic Beach and Hatteras tackle shops are issuing citations for kings over 30 pounds just about every day the weather allows getting there. Several good places to try are 1700 Rock, East Rock, the Atlas Tanker, Chicken Rock, AR 225, the Bad Bottoms, and the Smell Wreck.
Sea mullet and gray trout are being caught in many inlets and along the beaches. The Morehead City Turning Basin, through Beaufort Inlet to the Dead Tree Hole has been a hotspot for a few weeks. Speck rigs, Stingsilvers and Jig Fish are good choices for baits. You can increase your chances of sea mullets by using speck rigs and tipping them with just a small piece of fresh shrimp.
There is a question whether the spot run is over or hasn't peaked yet. I don't know, but have heard good arguments for both. Maybe they will show in the time between writing this and it being printed, but as of writing it, the big run of fat yellow-belly spots hasn't happened yet. There have been a couple of small surges, but the numbers haven't happened yet.
The piers are reporting really good catches for mid-November. It seems like a shame they will be closing in just a few weeks. In addition to the spots, this week's pier catches included bluefish, flounder, sea mullet, red drum, black drum, pompano, gray trout, speckled trout and a couple of false albacore.
Several folks reported good schools of false albacore this week. They said they were finicky about biting, but were there and could usually be coaxed into hitting something. Vertical jigging and very fast surface retrieves with small metal lures were two techniques that worked pretty well. The fat Alberts have been feeding on glass minnows, so smaller lures most closely resemble their favorite forage. The best reports of fat Alberts have come from around Cape Lookout.
While the continuous fronts and their accompanying stiff winds have been a hindrance, the larger offshore boats have been bringing back some good catches when they could make the trip. Wahoo remain the featured species, with some kings, a few late dolphin and this week a few more tuna, mostly blackfins.
Last year at this time we had already caught some bluefin tuna and many fishermen are wondering when and if the big bruisers will arrive this year. The bluefin catch so far this year is very slow. The recreation limit still allows 1 school bluefin (27 to less than 47 inches) and 2 large school/small medium bluefin (47 to less than 73 inches) per boat per day and 1 "trophy" bluefin of greater than 73 inches per year. Bluefin tuna are measures in a curved fork length from the tip of the lower jaw along the body to the fork of the tail.
Because of the slow catch so far this year, commercial bluefin boat are currently allowed 3 bluefin tuna measuring greater than 73 inches per day in the curved fork length. The restricted fishing days for November and December have also been waived.
The offshore bottom bite is so strong it might be considered a guarantee. It isn't quite that easy, but it has been very consistent for well over a month. The reports include good numbers of gag, scamp and red grouper, plus beeliners, black sea bass, triggerfish and grunts.
The Gordie McAdams Speckled Trout Surf Fishing Tournament (252-354-6350, www.emeraldisle-nc.org/eiprd) continues through December 1 in Emerald Isle.
The last king mackerel tournament of the year is the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship, this weekend in Biloxi, Mississippi. Many local teams are already there and hoping to bring another SKA Championship back to N.C.