Well, the end of June and the first few days of July were certainly a washout as far as water activities go. If you were here, you donít need to be reminded of the onslaught of rain our area has endured for the past month. And with all that rain and runoff comes murky water, and lots of it. But finally, conditions have started improving the past several days and anglers are catching fish, and lots of them. Of course, now a frontal system is destined to arrive just in time for the weekend, bringing more rain to an already-waterlogged system, and to add to the pain, we now have a tropical system to our south that may also bring more rain to the area after the front retreats. My gut feeling says that fishermen should get out on the water now while they can. Water temperatures have also recouped some over the past week and are reading in the mid-70s once again after dropping significantly during the monsoon days.
Offshore, the fishing was good when the boats were finally able to reach the fishing grounds over the weekend. Plenty of big black sea bass, grunts and other assorted bottom dwellers were plentiful in the 10-20 mile range. Better fishing with more chances at red grouper and trigger fish were found starting in the 30 mile range. Dolphin fishing was hit or miss, but some fishermen found them as close as 20 miles with better fishing further offshore on the temperature breaks. Water clarity was not optimal but continued to clear through the weekend.
Inshore, the fishing had been pretty much at a standstill during the rains. Once the sun started shining, cooped up anglers headed out in droves only to be met by muddy waters and strong tides, not to mention the holiday crowds. Not to be defeated, the anglers kept at it and as water conditions improved, and a lot of anglers found the fish eager to bite. Anglers also found a large number of finger mullet have finally grown big enough to come out of the marshes, which will help the fishing continue to improve right through the fall.
Red drum and flounder are being reported around the docks and also in the creeks. Some large flounder have also been caught in both Masonboro and Carolina Beach inlets the past few days. As mentioned, with the arrival of some larger baitfish, the inshore fishing should only continue to improve in the weeks ahead.
Sheepshead fishing has also shown signs of life with plenty of fish hanging around the dock and bridge pilings. One Armed Bandits, sand fleas and even barnacles are all good baits when targeting the striped convicts.
As was suggested at the beginning of this report, donít wait for the better weather to get out there and fish. If youíve got the time and it isnít storming, you may just want to spend a few hours soaking a bait. You never know when you might get another chance working around Mother Nature.