It's a little more like fall weather, at least at times, but our weather has developed into a trend I'll call confusing. After some chilly times late last week and over the weekend, we had a warming trend that lasted until Thanksgiving Day. Now, we have another cold front moving in, but at least this one is showing signs of holding a little precipitation. That's good--we need some rain.
Our forecast for the weekend is cooler, windier, and with a growing chance of rain. It's not a very good forecast for fishing, but one we can live with to get the rain.
I hope you were with family and loved ones yesterday and found many things to be thankful for. I was fortunate and was, plus had a choice between the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and the non-traditional oyster for dinner. I really believe that the Indians brought the first settlers turkeys in hopes they would leave the oysters alone.
Sorry, but it didn't work!
Be sure to take your oyster shells to one of the many recycling stations. The Division of Marine Fisheries has a top-notch oyster shell recycling program and it is benefiting the oysters, the fisheries and improving water quality. I have an article on this program in the December North Carolina Sportsman and urge everyone to read about it and to participate. I promise you'll never look at oyster shells the same way again.
This is the last big beach weekend of the year for many folks. They will be winterizing their beach houses and boats. Unfortunately with the weather forecast, they won't be too torn to go fishing.
Several piers closed for the season last weekend and most of the rest will close this Sunday. Not many will be open after Sunday. It will be wise to call ahead and be sure until they reopen in the spring.
The speckled trout bite has taken off over the past week or so. The specks are biting in the creeks, marshes and in the ocean.
The bite has been good and the crowd large, prompting several somewhat frustrated anglers to suggest a traffic cop might be a good addition to the Cape Lookout Jetty.
Speaking of trout, I didn't get the report in time for last week's column, but Capt. Jeff Cronk and Capt. Mike Taylor had a 3-trout aggregate weight of just over 23 pounds to win the Swansboro Trout Tournament two weekends ago. This included a new record largest fish for the tournament of 8.76 pounds. Those are some big trout. Congratulations!
Drum are still holding at most of their favorite haunts in the marshes and creeks, plus moving through the surf. There are probably many other similar spots, but Rough Point and the slough just east of Beaufort Inlet have giving up some upper slot to over slot drum pretty regularly. The first spot to check is around the inlets.
They have been around for a while, but sea mullet and gray trout are being caught along much of the coast. There has been a very consistent bite in the Morehead city Turning Basin, through Beaufort Inlet and along Shackleford Banks to the east. Speck rigs, Stingsilvers and Jig Fish are good choices for baits.
False albacore have been really hot for the past week in the Morehead City/Atlantic Beach area. They are working around Cape Lookout, on both sides of the shoals, and also along Shackleford Banks. Smaller flashy lures, retrieved pretty quickly, have been getting the most strikes.
The kings have moved offshore a little and the bite has gone off on the east side of Cape Lookout up to Cape Hatteras. Live bait is a plus, but the kings have also been hitting dead baits and lures. The 1700 Rock, Atlas Tanker and Chicken Rock are good spots closer to Morehead City and the Bad Bottoms and Smell Wreck are good spots closer to Hatteras. Tackle shops in both locations are issuing numerous citations for kings over 30 pounds just about every day the weather allows getting there.
This is the last report from the piers for the year and it is good, but mixed. Bluefish are ravenous and there have been some good runs of trout and drum, right in the surf. A few flounders are still being caught also. Other species being caught are sea mullet, black drum and gray trout
Doug Leister of Fort Macon Boat Sales called Wednesday to report a bluefish blitz near the Sheraton Pier in Atlantic Beach. He said the blues had herded a school of glass minnows into the surf and had them pinned next to the beach. He said the blues were slashing through the minnows and minnows were showering everywhere. He said it lasted until a school of roving porpoises showed up and started feeding on the bluefish. Boy, talk about going from the hunter to the hunted. Ouch!
The continuous barrage of fronts has prevented all but the larger boats from heading offshore regularly. When they go, they have been catching lots of wahoo and kings. A few sailfish are still around, along with some tuna. The tuna are mainly blackfins south of Cape Hatteras and a mixture of yellowfins and blackfins north of Cape Hatteras.
The first bluefin tuna have arrived at Morehead city and Southport. There aren't many yet, but area fishermen are getting excited. Three were caught last weekend near the Beaufort Inlet Sea Buoy and several spotted, a few hooked, but none landed off Southport. I hope to make a trip in the next week.
Offshore bottom fishing is really good right now. One fisherman went so far as to say there are grouper everywhere. I don't think it is quite that good, but it has been very consistent for well over a month. The reports include good numbers of gag, scamp and red grouper, plus beeliners, porgies, 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.
Along with many other area anglers, I was in Biloxi, Mississippi last weekend for the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship. Tar Heel fishermen didn't manage to bring another SKA Championship back to N.C., but they represented us well.
In the large boat class the Fishmeister, with Capt. Dean Spatholt was fifth and the Southern Bale, with Capt. Matt Gay was sixth. In the smaller boat class, they didn't win, but Carolina boats claimed spots two through five. Second was Onslow Bay 1, with Capt. Russell Weaver; third was Miss Teny, with Capt. Ashley Jones: fourth was Screamin' Deacon, with Capt. Larry Denning and fifth was Sic-Em, with Capt. Steven Ford.