Fishing the ‘Net

•December 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I’m a pretty strong believer in using the Internet to help catch more fish — or rather to help me decide where and when to go fishing.  And that is really why — as someone who lives over 2 hours from the coast and juggles family and work obligations, I need to prioritize and get the most out of my coastal fishing trips.

Some surf fishermen bemoan Internet fishermen who wait for that blitz report before rushing the beach with as many friends as he can implore via text.  I totally get that and agree that chasing blitzes by monitoring Facebook isn’t likely to make you a better fisherman or help you catch fish consistently, year in and year out.

I use a combination of information, most of which — besides Facebook which is becoming more and more of an important resource — I’ve provided links to on this website.  (In fact, that is really why this website/blog exists – to provide a handy place for all of the links I am liable to use!) The most important are coastal weather forecasts (particularly winds and waves), coastal weather stations (displaying past and current wind direction and speed, as well as water temperature, barometric pressure and other parameters), webcams, tide charts, and of course, fishing reports. At this time of year, fishing reports may become scarce and are often of minor influence compared to the other information sources.

Which leads me to my story. For the past several years, I’ve made two trips in December – early December, around my birthday, and then again in mid-December before the holiday cheer sucks me in. I loved the conditions setting up for last Wednesday (December 12) – light northeast winds coming on the heels of moderate-strong and cold northerlies (NNW/N). Sure enough, the webcam of the area I hoped to fish showed clear water, birds working and large dark blotches of bait all along the beach! Unfortunately, we were still recovering from a snowstorm and I was stricken with a very stiff and sore neck of unknown etiology. I just couldn’t do it. This week, I had my eyes set on today/tonight (December 18) – similar setup to last week, at least with the northeast winds; however, they came on the heels of stronger westerlies, not to mention shit-tons of rain. The westerlies and rain conspired to muddy the surf and the NE today was a bit too strong to settle it (trust me – I spent most of the day monitoring various surfcams for my target area).  I just couldn’t justify 5 hours of driving for what likely would have been a frustrating night.

So, here I am writing a blog post instead of fishing. I hope to make it up sometime between Christmas and New Years but – you guessed it – it depends on my research.

Now, about those fishing reports. They really have been just about non-existent. The water at the Outer Banks north beaches (north of Cape Hatteras) are already well into winter cold mode, 50 and lower. I’ve seen nobody fishing those beaches and am not getting any reports. Scattered reports of puppy drum, flounder and sea mullet on the south beaches of Hatteras Island. Elsewhere along the coast has been pretty quiet. Sea mullet fishing appears to still be pretty good in SENC, but trout reports are scarce.  The water temps in SENC are confounding me. Some of the stations are reading in the mid-upper 60s; others are in the mid-50s. Let’s call it low sixties…? In any case, the weather forecast suggests that water temperatures should stay in a fishable mode through the end of the year at least, so I am definitely hopeful for one last trip in 2018.

One final note – striper fishing in the northeast was once again poor. There was a pretty good run of schoolie stripers, but very little in the way of keeper fish in the surf.  And no big bluefish.


In n’ Out

•December 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s early December and things are all over the place. Water temperatures are in the low 50s north of Cape Hatteras and in the mid-60s south.

Fishing north of Oregon Inlet seems to have totally shut down; not only have there been almost no reports since Thanksgiving, but I can’t even find anyone on the many surf cams monitoring activity around the piers.  I know firsthand that there are some nice trout holes between Nags Head and Kitty Hawk and I’m dismayed that it appears no one has been working them.

There was more activity Thanksgiving week – while I spent vacation at the Outer Banks – people, and fish.  Lots of small trout, but I made a bet – and won – on the Tuesday before Turkey Day.  A north wind started ripping and I gambled that a nice slough that held spike trout the night before might host some larger fish with the added cover provided by the wind and surf.  I ended up with three nice 3 pound trout, a bunch of small trout and about five stripers up to 26″ – not bad at all!  The next night in perfect conditions was just about dead and, like I said, since the next blow on Thanksgiving day, there hasn’t been much reported, although I slayed the spikes behind Oregon Inlet on Friday.

For my birthday last weekend, I fished southeastern NC and found more of the same – lots and lots of small trout; some probably legal but nothing worth keeping. The Outer Banks fish were all really close in to the beach – right up against it, in fact. The SENC fish were mostly out – at the end of the cast.

There has been an excellent run of big sea mullet – many citations – in southeastern NC for the past week or two. There had been good fishing for sea mullet, along with black drum, blowtoads and pompano at the Outer Banks — again during Thanksgiving week.  Most of that fishing has moved south of Cape Hatteras, where there has been some good flounder fishing at times.  There was also a great bite of big drum at Cape Point early T-giving week (sound familiar?); lately mostly sharks.

What’s next?  Who knows.  It’s been an odd year, with a long summer and seemingly no fall. It remains to be seen if the water temps and fishing at the Outer Banks recover at all before winter sets in for real.  It also remains to be seen if the bigger trout being caught inshore in SENC finally get pushed out front.  The forecast calls for a major winter storm hitting North Carolina this weekend.  Extended cold weather and lots of freshwater in the form of rain pushing through the rivers and sounds could be the push needed.  Hoping to provide a first-hand report next weekend.   Till then-

This week?

•October 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Not so sure about it.  The weather looks to be generally great; however, I’m not crazy about the winds.  The surf up and down the NC coast is looking murky this morning on the heels of strong SW winds, and with westerlies forecast for the rest of the week, I’m not sure how much it will clear.  Even a strong cold front at the end of the week is calling for S and SW winds, with a slow transition to NW and, eventually easterlies, but relatively light.  Light to moderate easterlies (NE, usually) are preferred this time of year, especially if you are hip to light tackle trout and drum fishing in the surf zone, which favors clearer water.  Still, it’s early in the week, so we’ll see how things shake out.

Getting better

•October 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

That’s right, the coastal fishing continues to improve as water clarity gets back to normal following the hurricanes, and water temperatures fall following some real autumn cold fronts.

Water temperatures have dropped significantly in the past week or two.  They are still relatively warm, but not freakishly so.  Mid-upper 60s north of Oregon Inlet down to the low 70s south.

Last report two weeks ago, I remarked at how odd it was that Spanish mackerel were still hitting north of Oregon Inlet.  Well, they are still hitting north of Oregon Inlet (and south for that matter).  Freakish.  I’ve got to think this most recent cold front will spell the last of the Spanish from the northern piers at least.  But, who knows???

Last week’s cold front got some nicer speckled trout to start hitting in the surf north of Oregon Inlet.  Unfortunately, the previous cold front didn’t quite do the trick, because I fished some good structure pretty hard last weekend without any nice specks (or shorts for that matter). Nevertheless, the fishing wasn’t bad. I caught two slot and one overslot drum (the overslot was on metal no less), and a handful of blues on metal at Cape Point.  A couple short flounder rounded out my weekend.

Fishing continues to be good, with most surf reports coming from the Crystal Coast north, and the main fish being blues and drum, with plenty of bottom fish also – sea mullet, lots of pompano (some nice sized), and a few black drum.  There have been good reports of flounder from the Carolina Beach area.  Spanish have continued to bite well, mainly off the piers, with some false albacore mixed in.  The king bite has been pretty good further south. Overall, the fishing is good and getting better.

Reports from the northeast are not bad either, with central Jersey reporting one of their best and most consistent falls in a few years.  Lots of blues, false albacore and school stripers with more and more keeper bass coming daily.  Tons of bait in the water.

THIS Weekend!

•October 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Finally getting out there.  Myself.  Live, in person.  It’s been a difficult fall…or whatever you want to call the weather for the past month.  First Florence, and then Michael which screwed up my plans for last weekend — fishing was good, but we lost power here in the Piedmont, so I couldn’t really leave the family to fend for themselves.

This weekend looks a little trickier, weather-wise, with a great window on Friday, following a cold front rolling through now, but then Saturday the SW picks up on the front end of the next cold front – definitely not the worst conditions, but for someone who prefers lure fishing for speckled trout and puppy drum, I’d rather have the lesser winds stick around for a bit.  I’ll make do – hey, I am bringing nine rods.  I can bait fish too!

Fishing has been good.  Amazingly, Spanish mackerel are still hitting north of Oregon Inlet.  By this time of year, they are usually absent from all of the Outer Banks, at least from the surf zone.  I think they will be leaving soon with cold front after cold front finally making up for lost time, but maybe I’ll have a shot at them this weekend.  And, if not, everything else should pick up the slack: blues galore, drum of all sizes, specks (mostly small but some keepers starting to show) and bottom fish. Reports from further south in NC are harder to come by, due to storm damage, but its safe to say that the fall progression is underway.

This weekend…

•September 22, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This weekend would be a good one to hit the Outer Banks.  The southeastern beaches are still in rough and – in some cases – inaccessible condition due to Hurricane Florence.  However, Ocracoke north is open and in good shape. The fishing is picking up.  We haven’t had much fall-like weather yet, first day of fall notwithstanding.  However, hurricanes have a tendency to kick things up, especially in that northern edge where the winds run mostly north and northeast.  Copious amount of rain also doesn’t hurt for driving fish out of the rivers and sounds toward the ocean.

Blues and Spanish have started reappearing at the Outer Banks the past few days and big drum are starting to run, mostly on the piers north of Cape Hatteras.  Small speckled trout and a nice variety of bottom fish including some particularly large pompano have made for a good couple days on the Banks.  The weekend weather looks nice and fishing should remain good.

Fishing Report – July 23

•July 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a while since my last report and, frankly, we haven’t missed much.  It’s been a weird surf season for sure, starting off great in March and April, slowing down in May and slowing to a crawl in June and July.

Ironically, the culprits are probably both hot (south of Oregon Inlet) and cold (north of Oregon Inlet) water. Water temperatures north of Oregon Inlet have been in the high 50s-mid 60s for most of the summer, due to persistent SW winds that are hot, but also cause ocean upwelling that cools off the surf zone. Accordingly, there have been few of the prized summer quarry of Spanish and king mackerel, bluefish, pompano and the like. Rather, its been mostly scattered small bottom fish. There have been pretty good flounder in the surf, mostly taken on Gulp! baits.

Things haven’t been much better on Hatteras Island or further south either, with most of the action consisting of sharks around the Point, and more scattered bottom fish along all the beaches. There have been some Spanish and blues, but widely scattered from day to day. Black drum and puppy drum have been caught up and down the beach but not consistently.

The real bright spot of the summer has been the sound fishing for both puppy drum and speckled trout, with strong action particularly for trout, and some very nice sized fish including an 8.5 pounder from an inshore charter out of Hatteras this weekend. Trout fishing has been excellent all along the coast, with both strong numbers and nice sizes. Although typically considered a Brunswick County summer pier fishing phenomenon, pier fishing for trout has been good as far north as the Topsail Island piers. Again, good sizes.

Ironically (or not), the fishing to our north (as in New Jersey) had a similar pattern, with tons of bluefish early in the season, but a weak spring striper run. They’ve had good flounder fishing this summer as well.

The prognosis moving forward in the summer would have to be more of the same, unless the pattern of persistent SW winds change to onshore bringing better water and more predatory fish.