Vance Courson of Ocean Crest Pier on Oak Island said the king mackerel waited until May to make an appearance, but it didn’t take long once the calendar page flipped. The action began the morning of May 2 and is still going strong. As of Wednesday, 12 kings and three cobia have been caught from the pier, and the . weather forecast looks really good for the next few days.

“The fishermen on the pier just felt it was about to happen,” Courson said “We are usually the first North Carolina pier to catch kings each year, and we have done that once again. The water temperature had been toying with 70 degrees for a few days, and more bait was showing up. Pogies were moving up and down the beach, and fishermen were catching lots of bluefish – and king mackerel like both of them.”

John Gornto was the first fisherman to strike paydirt and he continues to lead the pack. The first of three kings Gornto caught dragged the scales to 33 pounds, 7 ounces. Kelly Weatherholt decked the first cobia on Saturday, a 22-pound, 7-ounce fish. Dave Roseman caught a 44-pound, 7-ounce king on Wednesday that is the biggest of the year and the second he has caught.

The ratio of kings decked to hooked up has been well above 50 percent; but for a couple of missed strikes and pulled hooks and the numbers would be even higher.

Courson (910-278-6674) said once the word spread, fishermen headed in and filled the pier end to the point all the anchor rods sticking up resembled porcupine quills. Three kings were caught on Friday, another three on Saturday and two on Monday. Some dirty water moved in on Monday, and the kings didn’t find the baits again until Tuesday.

“Tuesday morning, the dirty water was still there, but you could see a clean edge and it was moving towards the pier,” Courson said. “Dave Roseman caught a nice cobia in the dirty water, and the fishermen became cautiously optimistic. Once the clean water moved in to the end of the pier, they added three more kings and another cobia. 

“It’s pretty obvious that when water is clean and the kings can see the baits, they will bite them,” Courson said. “They are definitely hungry and feeding, and they haven’t been real choosy about what they ate. Several of the kings and cobia have been caught using bluefish for baits, and others were caught using pogies.”

Courson said the bites have come in waves, and several times, a fisherman has hooked a fish while another fisherman was leading a tired king to the gaff. The kings have mostly been of good size, with 10 of the 11 weighing more than 25 pounds. Derrek Munday has the heaviest cobia so far at 30 pounds, 15 ounces.