May 16, 2017 Fishing Report

•May 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

After a torrid April start to the surf season, May has quieted down a bit. In North Carolina, there are still some big blues around, but much fewer than there had been. Delaware and Jersey have them thick now. Drum are also still being caught but not in the same numbers as they had. There is a distinct transition to early summer happening; a bit early, not not abnormally so.

Sea mullet have picked up some of the slack, no doubt feeding easier now that most of the choppers are gone. Spanish mackerel have been caught up the coast to Cape Hatteras, with the southeastern piers seeing good runs of Spanish and small blues on gotcha plugs consistently.

The speckled trout bite has slowed north of Oregon Inlet, but there are still some being caught, though mostly shorts. The sound has lots of small stripers and good trout fishing. Pups and yearlings are scattered along most beaches.

In Jersey, some nice weakfish are starting to be caught, but the trick is to avoid the blues. In addition to chopper blues, some nice stripers are staring to show up, but the best is probably yet to come.

I’m at Ocracoke for the week, and the fishing is only fair. The weather and conditions, however, are great. I caught a nice 47″ drum Sunday night and have had a good number of sea mullet and small biter sharks on small bottom rigs. No bluefish yet, of any size! More later.

Water temps from low-mid 60s north to mid 70s south, but a picture is worth a thousand words:

May 16, 2017 temps


Right Time, Right Place. Right Time, Wrong Place. Wrong Time, Right Place.

•April 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

That’s pretty much fishing, isn’t it? (except for the ever-popular Wrong Time, Wrong Place!) This past weekend, I hit all three in the title.

Right Time, Right Place: south of a pier north of Oregon Inlet, light SW winds, beautiful evening.  Lots of nice trout along with some blues.  I find it unusually cool that we catch trout north of the piers in the fall and south of the piers in the spring.  Catching them moving south in the fall, and north in the spring.  The fact that this equation works validates our theories and assumptions, when so much about fishing only confounds them!

Right Time, Wrong Place: I fished a GREAT hole north of Cape Point Saturday, while everyone caught fish within spitting distance (but not quite my line of sight) south of the Point.  I should have known better, with the SW wind and all, but I was really enjoying my own private hole and probably a few too many beers.  I did catch a couple small things (blowtoads, sea mullet) and lost a big blue in the suds, but it was sssssllllllooooowwww.

Wrong Time, Right Place: South of the Point, but on a hard NE blow Sunday (boy that thing came in quick and with a fury!).  There were a few big blues caught, but not by me. However, there was a pretty steady bite of (small) sea mullet and toads. And, for the record, I did try fishing into the wind, at my own private hole north of the Point and it was much the same as the day before.

Oh well, Friday night was really good and made my weekend.  So did the speckled trout ceviche last night!

ceviche - 1

It’s Spring!

•April 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Exhibit A:


Look at that jump in water temperature at Duck on the switch to a NE wind.  Somewhat paradoxical that a “cold front” wind would jump the water temperature, but that’s what happens when onshore winds blow warmer surface water into the surf zone.  The fishing rose precipitously with the increase in water temperature as well.  Lots of puppy drum and trout with some big bluefish on the northern Outer Banks.  Avalon Pier in KDH reported some big trout after dark last night.  Further south, it is mostly the same, just more consistent.  Big drum have been hitting the Point and areas south for a couple weeks, and big bluefish are everywhere along the coast in good numbers (the first big blues showed in early March given the warm late winter), along with the standard spring fare of blowtoads, sea mullet, black drum, and even some (very) early big pompano.  There have also been lots of small stripers mixed with the pups and trout in the surf zone north of Oregon Inlet, along with a small handful of big stripers.  The coastal fishing is hot in other words.

The rivers are generally fishing well also, when the flow and clarity is reasonable. The usual for this time of year.  Hickory shad are just about done, but American shad are in full swing, and stripers are on the move.  With the very warm weather we are having, the up-river migration and spawn will be peaking shortly. Lots of white bass on the Piedmont rivers, although the big females may already be gone.

I’ve gotten a few river trips in, along with a nice February weekend at the coast, that although pretty, didn’t produce anything.  A mix of pics below. Will be fishing next week, somewhere.

Water temps, for the record: Norther OBX: low 50s (on SW winds) to mid-upper 50s (on NE). South, the range is more like low 60s to upper 60s.


Crazy weather, good fishing

•December 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I usually try to use the wind, tide, and surf forecasts to chart out an approach prior to a fishing trip – especially a short weekend trip where time is of the essence – but this past weekend was just perplexing with odd conditions for late fall. It started with a snotty, cold day Friday with highs in the 30s, moderate-to-strong northerly winds, and light rain. Saturday saw a wind shift to the southwest, fair skies, and much warmer temperatures in the 60s. And Sunday was warmer yet. My plan, such as it was, was to just try my favorite spots and adjust from there. Fortunately, my favorite spots held fish, more-or-less regardless of conditions.

Friday night (actually early Saturday morning), I braved wind, rain, and frozen fingers and had a good flurry of fish with three nice keeper trout on successive casts. Saturday was mostly for recovery (my target of low tide fell at the ungodly hour of about 3:30 am Saturday) and time with my wife, with another couple stints on the early rise around sunset when I had a couple nice trout in quick succession, and then the best stop of the trip early Sunday morning when I had steady action with small trout and blues mixed with a four fish limit of nice trout. The bigger fish really seemed to stalk and ambush my mirrolure – fun night!

Elsewhere in North Carolina, surf fishing reports have been pretty scarce with the fairly cold fall-winter weather pattern continuing and surf fishing effort lagging.  Water temps in southeastern NC are in the mid-to-upper 50s. Far north, at Duck, water temps are in the upper 40s. Cape Hatteras and south through Ocracoke are (probably) ranging from the mid-50s to low-60s. Clearly trout are a good bet from any good beach with water temperatures above about 55 F. It’s been a good year for trout (great in inside waters) and they should continue to hit with favorable conditions. We’ve probably seen the last of the big drum in the surf, but puppy drum, black drum, sea mullet, and blowtoads are all good bets for bottom fishing with bait. This is one of the better times of the year for bottom fishing the surf in southeastern NC, in particular.

Elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast, Jersey saw a great run of big blues and stripers for a few weeks, but it kind of peaked out around Thanksgiving and lately those surf casters are in a winter close-out pattern of only short stripers very close to the beach.

Thanksgiving, revisited

•December 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The rest of our Thanksgiving week at the Outer Banks was very good fishing-wise, weather-wise, and family-wise. Not as grand stomach bug-wise. But alas that is ancient history at this point and the good news is that despite my painful night off, I didn’t let the bug slow me down too much Thursday through Saturday.

Thanksgiving was a memorable day with a solid bite of smallish (but some keeper) speckled trout, bluefish, and small stripers from various holes north of Oregon Inlet in the morning. In the afternoon, I discovered bluefish (and one puppy drum) on every cast on the north side of Cape Point. I left after over a dozen fish in less than an hour and with a much larger crowd of metal slingers than when I first started casting! Went far north Friday night to fish the falling tide along a nice tight slough in Kitty Hawk and got a limit of better trout to about 4 pounds.  The wind machine turned on Saturday morning, but I was still able to pull a couple keeper specks from the tip of a bar along the old Lighthouse beach in Buxton.

Since Thanksgiving, the surf fishing reports, particularly from the Outer Banks, have remained very good. However, most of the activity has shifted to Hatteras Island as the persistent northwest blows have dropped the water temps a bit too much (low 50s) along the Bodie Island beach. In my experience, specks bite well in the surf down to around 56-57. Stripers and pups are fine in the low 50s (and lower, in fact), but there are really no stripers to speak of.  Pups are about, however.

On Hatteras, north beach water temperatures are in the mid-upper 50s, with the surf south of Cape Point in the low 60s – perfect, really.  The best trout and pup reports have come from Hatteras to Avon recently, and the Point continues to produce big drum regularly. In fact, Avon Pier had about 20 big drum on closing day last weekend. Fishing should remain good provided the water temps hold.

Further south along the North Carolina coast, surf temperatures vary from the upper 50s to the lower 60s. Reports are more scarce from these beaches, but in general fishing has been good, with big sea mullet, mixed size black drum, lots of (nice) speckled trout, pups and even plenty of blues still in the mix. Recent weather and the short-medium term forecast has more of the same – hard NW winds on cold fronts followed by brief periods of modest warming as high pressure builds.  The pattern thus far in December is certainly more winter-like than last year, and actually pretty seasonable.

Sick and Tired

•November 23, 2016 • 1 Comment

Sadly, that is my fate today, a beautiful day on Hatteras Island for our annual Thanksgiving family excursion to the beach.  I got out this morning before the stomach bug (and accompanying fever) caught up with me, but missed the better part of a lovely fall surf fishing day.  To add insult to injury, I hear some nice trout were hitting north of Oregon Inlet — there’s a good chance I would have been at least trying up there if I hadn’t been bedridden, as the calming waters following a hard cold front is just the prescription for fall trout in the surf.  Still contemplating a falling tide run, although the 9 pm low is rapidly approaching.  Tomorrow morning might be a smarter choice for both fishing and health reasons.

I have gotten two reasonably full days of fishing in (reasonably is a relative word when you have a young family).  So, for having two young kids, I’ve been able to get some time in and fortunately that has mostly translated into success.  There are black drum (mostly keepers) everywhere.  I’ve been hitting a nice hole that’s produced for me on the higher tide stages and before the plentiful skate take over. I really enjoy catching black drum – great fighters and great eating.

Drum have been running at Cape Point, especially in the hard NW wind (which I generally don’t like, but I may need to rethink things here…) Monday and Tuesday.  A Point sycophant I am not…in fact, I am probably the opposite of a Point sycophant and generally avoid the place because of the large crowds.  The times I do hit it are usually when almost no one else will be there.  Monday/Tuesday that meant midnight to about 2 am and I was rewarded with two yearling drum in the mid-upper 30″ range.  Surely could have caught more, but it was 2 am.  Against my normally better judgement, I fished the Point again Tuesday around sunset and the crowd was even worse than I could have imagined!  The “errant” headlamp lights were unreal…these must be the same folks that don’t bother to turn off their highbeams when driving toward you.  Anyway, the fish were there, but I didn’t get one. Tons of bait in the water at the Point and it has generally been alive with action lately, so yes, I’ll probably be heading back, but more likely will throw lures for blues and such or hit it late night again.

Hoping for a quick recovery here and will try to post again from this week, assuming I have any downtime (usually a bad sign!).  If not, next week I hope.

Just because I’ve been so slack…

•November 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I’ll repost my recent Cape Lookout fishing report from the Drumwagon website.


I was on island Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning of last weekend. I was solo as my buddies all eventually bailed on me! All my fishing was south end, with my basecamp near the lighthouse.

Thursday afternoon was beautiful and warm. Fishing was slow. Started around the point with artificials hoping to entice one of those nice flounder I’d heard were moving out of the inlet (I did see some fileted carcasses and can attest that some 20″+ fish had been caught), but I had nothing. Went back to my camp near the ped/ORV barrier just south of the lighthouse and fished cut bait during the early evening hours. Nothing on cut mullet and just a couple small sea mullet on shrimp/fishbites bloodworm sandwiches.

Cold front blew through with some fury Friday morning and I hunkered down in the tent, until the walls started caving in and dripping! Fortunately, the rain was brief. After I got my act together, I drove toward the point and, not unexpectedly, found small blues working the north beach under working birds — pretty common in a hard northerly wind here. The fish were on the small side, the water was big and there was nothing mixed in with them (sometimes drum will be feeding under the small blitzing blues). But it was pretty fun combat fishing, even if the most of the blues were overmatched by the medium action setup I needed to reach them. Used glass minnow style metal. Also hit the jetty and had a couple nice (but quick) shots at albacore in close, but didn’t get any takers. No flounder either. Some guys were catching what appeared to be pinfish on bait, which tells you how warm the water still was.

Saturday was still quite breezy till about nightfall, but otherwise a very nice fall day. Morning and early afternoon fished one of the very nice holes north of the lighthouse (around mm 39). Got a couple decent sea mullet on shrimp/fishbites and a short black drum, but it was pretty slow. The blues were missing from the north beach, and even bait fishing was generally unproductive, but I got lucky with a 42″x23″ drum from a deep slough near the first ped/ORV barrier north of the point right about sunset. I got it on fresh menhaden cast netted from the south side of the point a couple hours earlier. Evening fishing was really disappointing given otherwise nice conditions. I bait fished the point for several hours after dark with no real takes although I kept losing bait. Also plugged around the jetty – nice conditions but no action.

Was on the 8 am ferry Sunday morning – another beautiful day.