Spring came latethis year, but once it got its foot in the door, it has made up for lost time. One place fishermen are really noticing it are Oak Island's piers. Even trout fishermen can't hide pier catches; you're 20 feet above the water, and either you reel fish in or you don't.

Vance Courson of Ocean Crest Pier said a cold March definitely a setback for fish and fishermen, but with the past couple of warmer weeks, both are beginning to arrive.

"Our catches are picking up," Courson said. "Fishermen are catching lots of whiting and puffers, plus some bluefish of various sizes and even some false albacore and bonito at night. We are also having an early pompano bite, and Sherrill Mullis of Oak Island caught a citation pompano of 2 pounds, 5 ounces on April 17.

"We still really haven't had a big crowd on the pier this year. If we had seen a big crowd like at this time last year, there's no telling what we might have caught.


"Our weather station isn't reporting right now, but the water feels colder than normal to me," said Courson (910-278-6674). 


The Carolina Regional Coastal Observing System (RCOOS) buoys at Sunset Beach and Wrightsville Beach show the surf-zone water temperature to be approximately 65 degrees. While still a couple of degrees behind a typical mid-April, the water is more than a dozen degrees warmer than it was only two weeks ago.


"There are a small handful of king fishermen out on the end of the pier now," Courson said. "We usually have an early run of kings here, and they are chasing the bluefish, which have been here a while. The water will probably have to warm a couple more degrees for kings to be on the beach, but we should see some chopper blues at any time. One of them was caught up the Lockwood Folly River a couple of days ago, so they should be here by now. The bite is going to go off at any time."


Meanwhile, the whiting and puffers are biting well for bait fishermen and pluggers are catching small to medium bluefish.