If it didn't cool off enough for you last week, this week should have taken care of it. Some of the mornings have been downright frigid. I haven't yet heard the crunch of frost under my feet, but there were several times it wouldn't have surprised me.
We are looking at another cold weekend coming up, but the wind might be backing off just a little. After being gusty to gale force during the week, we are looking at north to northeast at 10 to 15 knots for Saturday and Sunday. It will be breezy Friday and may push back up by Monday, but let's get the weekend in and enjoy it.
With all this cold weather, the water temperature has dropped rapidly. Just over a week ago, the water was hovering around 70 degrees. Bogue Inlet Pier is reporting 63 degrees, but I saw some 59 and 60 degree readings last weekend.
Unless Grandma lives somewhere down east, not too many people headed to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. This is the last busy weekend at the coast for the year. Beginning Monday, many coastal businesses will begin closing or at least seriously limiting their hours.
There are a lot of undersize specks in places, so carry a ruler and be prepared to release about half of your catch. There are still plenty of specks in inshore places, but as the water continues to cool, they should be making their way out of the creeks towards the inlets and surf.
Live shrimp are an almost foolproof bait and many of the local tackle shops have them. Live mullet minnows are a pretty good substitute, but aren't quite as good.
Many suspending and diving baits, such as Mirrolures and Yo-Zuris, and soft plastics are also catching speckled trout well. Two of the most often mentioned soft plastics are the shrimp scented grubs from Got-Cha and the Berkley Gulp grubs.
Gray trout are thick at many locations. Along the edges of the Morehead City Ship Channel between Beaufort Inlet and the State Port, in Wallace Channel, in the Hatteras Inlet Ferry Channel and in the lower Cape Fear River are some of the better inside spots for grays. The Dead Tree Hole, off the end of the Cape Lookout Jetty, Johns Creek Rock, Sheepshead Rock, the WOFES, AR 420, AR 425 and also near the ends of the piers are good ocean spots for grays. Almost all of the gray trout surpass the minimum size. Stingsilvers, Jig Fish and speck rigs are catching the grays well.
I like to replace the treble hooks on Stingsilvers and Jig Fish with single hooks. I might miss a few strikes, but I can remove undersize or otherwise unwanted fish much easier and return them to the water quicker. This certainly increases their odds of surviving.
Red drum fishing is about as good as it gets. There are many smaller to medium size reds in the marshes, sounds, and surf. Some larger drum are coming from the inlets, Capr Hatteras, Cape Lookout and the east beach of Bald Head Island. Late afternoon and night are better times to catch bigger reds.
There are still some spots around, but their numbers are dropping fast. They are still being caught from the piers and several inside spots along the ICW. I have heard lots of good reports mentioning the new synthetic bloodworm baits from FishBites.
With the late coming of fall, the pier fishing continues to be pretty good. There are trout, spots, sea mullet, red drum and more being caught from the piers. After this weekend, call in advance to be sure your favorite pier is still open.
The strong winds have seriously limited the fishing days, but the false albacore bite picked up with the cooler weather last weekend. The northeast wind and cooler water has definitely turned them on. The best action in the state has been near Cape Lookout and out towards the Trawler Buoy.
The fall king bite continues to be red hot. There have been a lot of kings caught from about 60 feet of water on out. The bite was unreal off Hatteras over the weekend, with a good handful of kings over 60 pounds being caught. Live bait has been tough to find, but is the hot ticket. If you don't find some menhaden pretty quickly, try jigging up some bluefish, gray trout, cigar minnows and such to use for bait. The fish have been hungry and not too particular.
A few bluefin tuna are being caught, but they really haven't arrived yet. Maybe this latest cold weather will drop the water temps to more of their liking and they will begin showing up better next week.
With the combination of wind and season the offshore boats aren't running regularly during the week. That's a shame as the fishing is pretty good when they can go. The wahoo bite has been very good and a few tuna are being caught.
I was hoping to congratulate one of the many local fishing teams who traveled to Ft. Pierce, Florida last weekend for the Southern Kingfish Association National Championship Tournament. Unfortunately, the tournament was postponed due to strong winds and high seas. It has been rescheduled for April 20 to 22, 2006.
I would like to wish everyone and all of your families a happy Thanksgiving.