On Saturday, November 5, I only had a few minutes late in the day to fish some close-in oyster bars on the White Oak River but it was spectacularly beautiful as you can see from the marsh grass picture. I also managed to catch and release another sixteen inch drum and bring home a sixteen inch trout for dinner.
On Tuesday, November 8, I had almost two hours to fish the oyster rocks in my kayak and I caught four red drum and one black drum. I brought home one nineteen inch drum. In the last ten days, I have landed ten red drum, the best around twenty inches and another at nineteen inches. I have only kept one red drum but I have kept two trout, one sixteen inches and another eighteen inches and also one black drum at fifteen inches. We have feasted on fish these last few days. Baked browned-butter, panko-encrusted drum is one of my favorites.
Last year, 2015, we did not have a fishing season like this one. I blamed it all on the early October rain we got. It is hard to miss a fishing season when fall fishing on the coast is such a tradition. This year we have been lucky. Since Mathew dropped three inches of rain on us October 8, we have only had two-tenths of an inch on October 22, and another two-tenths of an inch on November 4.
It is sprinkling a little today, November 9, but it will take more than that to register in our rain gauge. Even having a cloudy day during this stretch is a little unusual. Other than the two days with a little precipitation and some sprinkles as I mentioned, the weather has been very predictably nice with blue skies and pleasant temperatures.
The nearly unbroken string of wonderful clear skies and calm waters have been great for any outdoor activities. Since Mathew's Wind & Waters on October 8, the dry weather we have enjoyed has been great for farmers and fishermen. This is very unlike last year's fall. Aside from a couple of windy mornings, most of the time it has been truly beautiful out on the White Oak River.
The beach has also been pretty nice as the waters have cleared but it is the time of year when trucks are allowed to drive on the beach so the walking is a little harder for us hikers. My last trip for a long hike over on the beach was October 20, and the water was as crystal clear as ever. The beach picture was taken at the Point on Emerald Isle. I was standing just north the western most piece of sand on Bogue Banks. This is a map of a beach hike in early September and another of my October 20 beach hike. While the beach was closed to driving just east of where I entered the beach. I still do not think the Point and the rest of Emerald Isle's beaches were damaged by Hurricane Matthew.
The daytime highs have dropped a lot since that hike on October 20 which was a very warm day with temperatures in the mid-eighties. It almost felt like summer. I was glad that I had worn just a bathing suit and t-shirt.
A little over two weeks later we are lucky when temperature gets to seventy or above. Most days in early November are in the sixties during the day and around fifty at night. The surf temperature is down to 62F and the sound and river water temperatures are at 59F. Hopefully the those temperatures will hold for another few days because I would love at least another couple fishing trips before the kayaking season ends for me.
When you can go out and catch red drum like this one (the net is sixteen inches wide) within sight of your house, you do not want the fishing season to end. Actually the season does not end, it just gets too cold to go out and sit on the chilly water in a kayak and I cannot reach the best fishing spots from our skiff.
It has been a late season with even the spot fishing season starting a month later than most years (pictures taken November 3, 2016 and October 8, 2011 and October 8, 2014). Still there will be people fishing for at least another month unless we get a real cold snap. I am pleased to report that we are still waiting for our first frost even over on the mainland part of Carteret County. We usually see frost sometime from the middle of November until the third week in November but we have seen it as early as November 12. I still have tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pepper, beans and broccoli growing in our fall garden.
With water temperatures dropping and some cool nights, we are past the time when you can wade with bare legs as was common two to three weeks ago when I took this picture. I even put on blue jeans for one more morning walk this week but I was back in shorts before noon. Even what is left of fall can be a wonderful time to visit the Crystal Coast. This year's great stretch of weather certainly has been another one to remember like fall of 2011 and it is not done yet.
We have only a tenth to a quarter of inch of rain in the forecast for the second week in November. The high temperatures look to remain mostly in the mid to upper sixties with only a couple of days just reaching the upper fifties. We have one night this weekend where the temperatures will drop into the upper thirties but to balance that there are two days when we break seventy degrees. That is not bad weather for the middle of November.