Welcome to the NC coastal weather. The southwest wind finally laid out some last week, just in time for the cold front over the weekend. The temperature dropped 15 degrees and the winds turned to the northeast. There were a couple of really nice days, but once again small boat fishing in the ocean has been a little sporty once you left the protection of the southerly facing beaches. The forecast for the end of this week and Memorial Day Weekend is for the warmer temperatures to return, but bring a good chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms. It brings to mind a saying I often heard as a child---If you don't like the weather here in eastern NC, just wait a little while and it will change, again.
Hopefully the cooler weather and cloudy skies won't be enough to cool the inshore waters. Until this cold front, the fishing had been going like gangbusters. It is still doing well, just the variety has declined. With a little luck, the variety will return along with warmer temperatures and the sunshine.
From Little River to Manteo, the big news this past week has been cobia. There have been quite a few cobia caught at almost every area and some of them have been really big. A good dozen or more over 70 pounds have been reported, including several in the 80's, at least 2 in the 90's, and there is an unconfirmed report of a potential new state record 113 pounder. I have not been able to track this catch down yet and no one has contacted the Division of Marine Fisheries for record certification.
The inshore fishing reports include some good flounder catches, puppy drum, and some speckled trout. Under the high-rise bridges at Morehead City has been a really good spot to catch both gray and speckled trout. The best time is at night, but there is a problem. There are so many bluefish feeding on the minnows that congregate in the lighted areas under the bridges, that it is difficult to get a bait past them and down to the trout. Some sea mullet, croakers, and gray trout are also biting in the Morehead City Turning Basin and along the ship channel to Beaufort Inlet.
With the weather changes, the fishing from the piers has changed also. One constant is the smaller schooling blues near the breakers and some large Hatteras blues being caught at the end. Sea mullet are still biting well also, but appear to have switched to a nighttime feeding pattern. The Spanish mackerel bite initially picked up when the water cleared up, but has cooled some with the air temperatures.
On the Oak Island piers, the king and cobia bite picked back up last week, when the southerly wind slowed. Unfortunately, it has slowed again with the cold weather. The pier experts expect this bite to fire off again when the weather warms by mid week. In the meantime, some speckled trout are hitting live shrimp out near the end of the pier.
Gaffer and large dolphin have dominated most of the Gulf Stream catches over the past week. The 20 and 30 pounders are nice, but several in the 50's and one in the 70's have been weighed in. There was a good tuna bite Saturday off Wrightsville Beach. Wahoo and a few billfish round out the catch.
The 23rd Annual Swansboro Rotary Club Memorial Day Blue Water and King Mackerel Tournaments will be held Memorial Day Weekend, May 23 to 25. For more information on these uniquely partnered tournaments, call 910-326-FISH or visit www.swansbororotary.com.