It’s hard to believe just a few weeks ago we were talking about when the fishing was going to start picking up and yet here we are, with just more than a week left in the month of May, talking about how fantastic the fishing has been.
Water temperatures have continued to creep up and have now officially hit the 70-degree mark. Fishing is firing off from the beach, the inshore waters as well as offshore, making anglers happy, happy, happy.
Ocean conditions for boaters have also been superb, allowing the smaller boats chances to venture off a little bit further to get a chance at the action. The weekend outlook is not as good as the past few, but it’s looking manageable at least; meaning, with the holiday weekend, there should be plenty of action had by all looking to wet a line.
Near shore fishing has been great with plenty of Spanish mackerel and bluefish being found by fishermen trolling Clark Spoons from just off the beach out to around three miles. A few Atlantic bonito are also still being caught, however their days are numbered as the water temperatures continue to rise.
For those looking for a real tug on the line, the black tip sharks are plentiful for some rod bending action. Cobia are also a possibility and should be showing about any day now. Some anglers fish for them around the jetties with menhaden or bluefish fished on the bottom while others who are trolling keep a separate rod rigged with a heavy bucktail should they observe a cobia cruising by. A word of caution: if you happen upon one and get him to the boat, dispatch it with a hammer prior to bringing it in, otherwise a trip to the local tackle store to replace some rods and reels might be in order, not to mention a visit to the ER. They play dead well until in the bottom of a fiberglass boat.
Surf and pier fishing has been good for Virginia mullet but anglers have to weed through the small ones in order to find the larger ones. The dredging operation, which is creating some cloudy water along the shoreline, is not helping matters along Wrightsville Beach right now, but there are still some fish to be found. Got-Cha Plugs jigged off the pier, in the clearer waters are catching some Spanish mackerel and bluefish.
Inshore, it’s been much of the same with red drum being found around structures, such as docks and oyster beds. Artificial baits are working and will allow more coverage of the area waters, but personal preference says a live bait rigged Carolina style is hard to beat. There have also been a few more reports of keeper flounder being found in the same locations, but as with any early season fishing, there are small ones to also contend with.
Offshore, the Gulf Stream action has been mainly dolphin and some big ones at that. Just about any structure such as weed lines, have been holding lots of fish in the 10-20 pound range with some much larger fish being reported. Black fin tuna, although becoming more sporadic, are still a chance encounter, as are wahoo and billfish.