NC Coastal Fishing Report
Published July 10th, 2019
Fishing inshore has been good lately, with drum, flounder, and sheepshead being the most commonly targeted species this time of year. Docks in the waterway and in the creeks are a good place to find all three, especially where there is deeper water and current nearby. Reds and flounder can also be found in the marsh near the inlets and behind the islands. You can’t go wrong with live mullet, but Gulp and Z-Man soft plastics have also been producing a good number of fish. Chartreuse Pepper Neon, Pearl White, and New Penny have been the most productive Gulp colors while Bad Shad, Houdini, and Redbone Z-man color combinations have been equally successful. The Reds have also been hitting topwater plugs, especially in low light conditions; a Rapala Skitter Walk or Skitter V is hard to beat. The sheepshead and black drum are mostly being caught on fiddler crabs, sand fleas, and shrimp. First Flight Lures makes a good jig for fishing with these smaller baits, the jig features a free swinging 2/0 Owner live bait hook.
There have been mixed reports coming in from the surf in the past few weeks, red and black drum, whiting, pompano, and flounder have been common occurrences. 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 been hit or miss at the nearshore wrecks and ledges depending on the wind and tide, with a few great days and larger fish mixed in. Slow trolling live bait has been producing the bigger fish, while boats pulling Yo-Zuri deep divers and clarkspoons with planers have been catching their share as well. The fish have also been hitting casting jigs, when you can find them feeding on the surface.
The nearshore bottom fishing has been strong lately, good numbers of big Flounder, keeper Grey Trout, and mixed sizes of red drum have been biting at the AR’s and ledges nearshore. You can’t go wrong with a bucktail tipped with a Gulp or with a live mullet or menhaden. There are still a few Cobia to be caught, especially near inlets, around live bottom, and at the artificial reefs off the beach. It’s a good idea to have a rod ready with a bucktail or live bait to cast quickly if you see a fish.
There’s been some decent fishing for mahi in the 15-30 mile range lately, including some 20+lb fish. Trolling with ballyhoo or squid has been the most common strategy. If you opt for lures, the Trident Lure Micro’s, Blue Water Candy Mahi Madness, and Monkalur’s have all been drawing some attention. King mackerel are being caught in good numbers at structure and ledges throughout the area. Kings are being caught within a few miles of the beach, but the best fishing has been from 50’-90’. Ballyhoo, cigar minnows, drone spoons, bigger clarkspoons, and live bait will all produce fish. The Gag grouper bite has been strong starting in about 80’ along with beeliners, pinkies, and grunts. The red’s and scamp’s can be found further offshore along with good numbers of triggerfish. Throw out a light line while you’re bottom fishing for a shot at mahi and kings.
Red Snapper season this year is open for 5 days, July 12th-14th and July 19th and 20th. The limit is one per person/per day with no minimum size. Look for them on ledges and live bottom starting in about 90’.
Gulf Stream trolling has been heavily dependent on finding temperature breaks and weedlines. If you can find that, you’re likely to find plenty of smaller blackfin and mahi. There’s also been a handful of Blue Marlin caught over the last few weeks. This time of year Mahi, Blackfin, Sailfish, and Wahoo will all spend some time on the inshore side of the break, don’t be afraid to stop short. The grouper fishing has been great out in 200’, along with plenty of amberjacks and a variety of snapper.