Fishing Report 2/27/2016

After a brief foray into winter, the weather seems to be settling into more of a spring-like pattern.  Indeed, the chorus frogs are chirping up a racket in the Piedmont of North Carolina. The pattern lately has been wet, warm and stormy fronts followed by cool/cold high pressure.

The good news is that we never did get any truly bitterly cold weather this winter and there have been very few reports of trout stuns or kills at the coast. Although cold weather stuns or kills can be very localized events – usually limited to shallow, slow moving coastal rivers and creeks, since the trout often congregate in these areas in winter – the effect on their population can be significant. I should note here that the very worst combination for stun/kill events is very cold air temperatures, wind (to mix the water column) and cold precipitation-driven runoff (e.g., cold rain, ice, snowmelt). That cold water goes right to the bottom where the fish are usually bunched up to avoid the cold surface conditions.

Nevertheless, surf and sound water temperatures this time of year are usually a good indication of the type of winter we’ve had.  Right now, coastal water temperatures are ranging from the mid-40s at the northern Outer Banks to the low-50s along the southeast coast. And they really haven’t fallen much below these temperatures all winter. During and after truly cold winters, those numbers could easily be 10 degrees lower than they are now. Given that spring fishing usually starts to kick off in earnest when water temperatures approach the mid to upper 50s, we are in very good shape for an early spring season — barring any polar vortex shifts of course!

Actual surf and shore fishing reports are pretty scarce right now. There have been some red and black drum caught near Cape Hatteras and along the southern Outer Banks beaches recently. Most of the drum are pups but a few big red drum have been caught from the Point during southwest blows. The puppy drum fishing near the Point and Old Lighthouse area in Buxton has been pretty consistent and fish have been caught on both jigs and natural baits. Further south, I suspect the scene is pretty similar. Trout reports from the surf zone have been scarce since the water temperatures have fallen below the mid-50s. Spiny dogfish should provide action for bait fishermen just about anywhere along the beach, but definitely at the Outer Banks.

The lower sections of the coastal rivers have been fishing well for stripers for most of the winter, with hickory shad having picked up quite a bit in the past couple weeks. On the Neuse, some reports have the hicks as far up as Goldsboro, but you’ll probably enjoy better success focusing further downstream. Keep an eye on the NC Wildlife Resource Commission’s coastal river fishing reports which should start back up in a couple of weeks and extend through the striper spawn (mid-May). Knowledgeable guides and other fishermen should be able to find trout and puppy drum in the coastal creeks as well. Bank fishermen in Carteret County have been scoring on trout periodically, but not consistently.

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~ by surffisher on February 27, 2016.

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