NC Coastal Fishing Report
Published April 24, 2018
Inshore, the big bluefish have been getting a lot of attention and they should only become more abundant over the next month. They can be found almost anywhere that typically holds fish and will bite almost anything. Topwater plugs, swimbaits, and spoons will all get their attention. If you start running out of tackle tie on a wire leader. There have still been a few schools of red and black drum hanging around docks in creeks and waterway. Live mud minnows and cut shrimp have been the most productive baits, though Z-Man and Gulp! soft plastics will work too. The fish will start to spread out some as the water warms. For now, most of the fish on the flats and docks are still schooling in larger groups. Anglers are enjoying some quality catch and release speckled trout fishing around Wrightsville Beach and in the Cape Fear River.
The big blues have been biting well in the surf. Most of the fish are being caught with cut mullet, however spoons and topwater poppers will also catch fish. Some sea mullet, small croaker, skates, and small bluefish are being reported in the surf now. There are a few slot-sized red drum being caught around the inlets on cut mullet.
Now is a good time to go Atlantic Bonito fishing if you’re planning to give it a shot. They can be caught both casting and trolling. Tactics and tackle are similar to Spanish mackerel fishing. If you find fish feeding on the surface, try to get the boat just close enough to make a long cast along the edge of the school. Gotcha Jigfish lures and Shore Lures, especially in the 3/4-1.5 oz sizes, using fluorocarbon will help you get more bites. Let the jigs sink for a few seconds and then start retrieving very quickly. Trolling is a great way to find fish and a few more in the boat. Yo-Zuri deep divers work great, you can also Troll #1 Clarkspoons or mackerel tree rigs behind #1 or #2 planers. The first few Spanish Mackerel have also been reported, look for the Spanish mackerel and small kings to make a stronger showing as we move into May and the water temperature gets above 65.
Black sea bass are still being caught in decent numbers, but the larger fish are starting to head offshore. In the 15-25 mile range, there are schools of kings biting around the ledges in as shallow as 70ft of water. They are mostly being caught by anglers trolling cigar minnows or drone spoons on planers or downriggers.
Gulfstream fishing has still been strong, when boats can get there. A few boats reported tough fishing on the days when the warmer water had pushed offshore, but as of right now it is back within reach. Expect quality numbers of blackfin tuna and a handful of Yellowfin tuna to be on the list of potential takers. Wahoo have still been around in good numbers and can crash into the spread at anytime. Sailfish are always a possibility too. Trolling ballyhoo skirted with JR Ilanders, Ilander Sailures, and Blue Water Candy Seawitches accounted for most of the fish. Trident Lures, Cedar plugs, and Green Machines accounted for a share of fish as well. Be sure to take some mono/fluoro rigs for the tuna in addition to your wire/cable rigs for the wahoo. Jigging anglers are reporting good catches of blackfin tuna, African pompano, and amberjack.