Man, my remark last week, about letting winter in, was right on the front of some really cold weather along the coast and the worst ice storm ever through the NC piedmont. The thought comes through even stronger now though. Isn't it amazing that in just a few short weeks we have gone from being significantly warmer than usual to such a cold brutal reality? My heart goes out to those folks who have been and still are without power and heat. I do wish you the best in getting your lives back to normal.
While the past weekend was relatively calm, there has been plenty of gusty wind associated with this weather also. The wind is building up again for a few days, but looks to possibly lay out some for the upcoming weekend. The forecast is also for warmer weather for the end of the week and weekend, which will be very welcome also.
The inland and ocean water temperatures have continued to fall during this cold spell. With water temperatures in the low 50's the nearshore and surf fishing has virtually slowed to a standstill. However, it has been cold enough that only the most dedicated fishermen were braving the beach conditions or using open boats.
Offshore, the fishing continues to be a little slow. There are two major reasons for this. The weather has not been conducive for an offshore trip and there has been some good fishing closer in. It seems that just about everyone who has good offshore capabilities, is chasing bluefins right now. The exception is off Oregon Inlet, where there has been a pretty good yellowfin tuna bite and some bigeyes mixed in. Elsewhere, the offshore mixture includes some wahoo, a few dolphin, some yellowfin and blackfin tuna, and some scattered king mackerel.
All but just a few of the piers have closed for the season. With the recent cold the surf and pier zones have been especially slow, except around the inlet jetties and the stripers at Oregon Inlet. If we have several days in a row of warmer sunny weather, it could stir up some limited activity in the nearshore water.
The inshore red drum bite slowed a little with the cold spell, but they are around and will get active on sunny days. There were reports of a few catches of big speckled trout in the last week. The hot spots were Cape Lookout, Masonboro Inlet, and Davis Canal at Oak Island. Live shrimp and green curltail grubs continue to be the hot baits, with Mirrolures catching up quickly.
The bluefin tuna bite came and went a little during last week. There were quite a few caught at both Morehead City and Hatteras, with the crowd at Drum Inlet resembling a king mackerel tournament. The bluefins are mixed sizes, with fish from about 150 to 400 pounds being reported.
Several schools of nice ocean stripers have moved into the waters around Oregon Inlet. They can be a bit hard to locate, as they are north of the inlet one day and then south of it the next. Live and plastic eels behind bucktails and deep-diving swimming plugs have been producing well. Once the fish are found, limits have been common, with a few fish pushing 40 pounds.
There are also some large schools of smaller stripers around Manns Harbor. The action has been hot around both the old and new bridges. Also look for flocks of obviously feeding birds out in Albemarle Sound.
The Long Bay Artificial Reef Association (LBARA) has received a $10,000 grant from the FishAmerica Foundation. The grant is for the Yaupon Reef (AR 425) Restoration and Conservation Project, which will be beginning immediately. The LBARA is a non-profit group that has been a leader in the formation and enhancement of artificial reefs in the Long Bay area off the southern NC coast. For more information visit www.lbara.com or call 910-842-3136.
The LBARA is looking for volunteers to help with the construction of the reef balls for the Yaupon Reef Restoration and Conservation Project. The reef balls will be built at a facility between Southport and Oak Island. Volunteers may contact the Project Coordinator, Capt. Bob Black, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 910-278-4575.