The early part of the week was nothing short of phenomenal as far as weather goes. Mid-to-low 80s, a massive dip in humidity and clearing skies have all contributed to what was a welcome sight to anglers. Unfortunately, with the coolness came significantly strong winds blowing from the northeast. Northeast winds with a cooling-down effect are normally reserved for a bit later in the fall. But, let me check — nope, no complaints.
Offshore, the fishing has been good when a temperature break or rip can be found. Before the storms blew in, anglers reported decent catches of wahoo with some blackfin mixed in. Some larger dolphin were reported as well as a few billfish, namely in the variety of sailfish. Colors of blue and white seem to be the best choice, but trolling another color or two might not hurt your chances to make it worth your while and give the fish an assortment of flavors.
In the 20-30 mile range, anglers report decent bottom fishing — that is, when they can stay away from the sharks. Nothing much has changed this week as the sea floor is littered with sharks just waiting for a free meal. Working your baits through them in order to get to the bottom can wear your patience thin, not to mention wasting a good portion of bait on them. Anglers report, just like last week, getting into waters more than 100 feet will help eliminate some of those shark encounters. Waiting in the depths, providing you get on a good ledge or some structure, should be grouper, snapper, black sea bass and triggerfish.
Along the beaches, anglers reported good runs of decent Spanish mackerel before the front arrival and the winds began to blow. Areas just off the Blockade Runner Beach Resort and also along Masonboro Island in the 35-foot range yielded plenty of good-sized Spanish on 00 Clark Spoons trolled behind a small planer. Some false albacore and bluefish have also been caught in the same areas.
Inshore fishing is also starting to take on the feeling of fall with plenty of slot and over-slot red drum found around the docks and in the creeks. Artificial baits are working, but live finger mullet, which are fairly numerous in area waters, will draw almost instant interest if a drum is around. Most anglers are rigging live baits on a Carolina rig with an offset or Kahle hook and just working them along the banks of the creeks or near the pilings of the local docks.
Flounder fishing has started picking up in the same areas within the last week with more keeper fish being caught. Of course there are still plenty of undersized fish around, but as we progress into September (which by the way is only a week away), those flat fish will start feeding even more heavily on the abundance of baitfish that are around.