NC Coastal Fishing Report
Published July 22nd, 2020
Inshore fishing has been a little tougher lately, mostly due to high water temps, but the boat traffic doesn’t help either. There are still plenty of opportunities to catch fish if you know where to look. Going early in the morning or even at night is going to be one of your best bets. Fishing for reds has been good in the marsh, around ICW docks with deeper water, and out around the Masonboro Jetties. Topwater lures and gold spoons are the go-to lures in the marsh. Live or cut bait is hard to beat this time of year around the docks. Look for ladyfish, bluefish, and the occasional speckled trout to be feeding around dock and bridge lights at night. Anglers fishing the bridges with live crabs and sand fleas have still been catching some nice sheephead and black drum. Flounder fishing has also been very good lately, although it’s all catch and release until the season opens on August 16th.
There have been some good reports coming in from the surf. Sea mullet, pompano, Spanish mackerel, croaker, black drum, red drum, and flounder have all been reported. The fishing during the summer is often better during the cooler times of day or at night. Anglers fishing with large cut bait especially at night have been catching sharks and rays.
The Spanish mackerel fishing has tapered off some. There’s still fish to be caught, just hasn’t been huge numbers lately. Trolling with Yo-Zuri deep divers or clarkspoons with planers has been working well. The fish have also been hitting casting jigs, when you can find them feeding on the surface. Kings and a handful of Cobia and tarpon are also being caught right along the beach. Live bait is going to be the best option for them if you stay close to shore. Further offshore in the 5+ mile range, the kings are being caught with dead cigar minnows, ballyhoo, and spoons.
The nearshore bottom fishing has been good lately, decent numbers of Flounder, Grey Trout, and some big drum having been biting on the bottom nearshore. You can’t go wrong with a bucktail tipped with a Gulp or with a live mullet or menhaden.
There’s been a few nice mahi caught in the 25-40-mile range over the last couple weeks. With scattered numbers of smaller ones being caught as close as 12 miles off. Trolling with downsized ballyhoo rigs and squid has been the most consistently producing tactic. Blue Water Candy Mahi Madness, C&H Rattle Jets, and Sea Vixen Flying Fish have all been good options for trolling without bait. King mackerel are being caught in decent numbers at structure and ledges throughout the area as well. Fishing baits deep on the planer or downrigger can be especially important this time of year. Troll over ledges and structure or stay around any bait balls you find. The Gag grouper bite has been a little tougher nearshore lately, however sea bass, pinkies, and grunts have still been biting. The better grouper fishing has been out past 110’ with good reports of gag’s, red’s and scamp’s biting on live and dead bait.
Trolling in the Gulf Stream has been hit or miss lately. Surprisingly, there has still been some passing schools of big Yellowfin, but they’ve been extremely tough to catch. Small blackfin, a few wahoo, and mahi have been the more consistent species on the troll. Boats running further offshore looking for Marlin have still been raising fish with some regularity. The bottom fishing and jigging out along the break has still been outstanding if the trolling doesn’t work out.