NC Coastal Fishing Report
Published December 14th, 2018
The smaller Speckled trout have still been everywhere recently. The colder temperatures have moved some fish to the surf and inlets, but it’s still taking some persistence to catch the larger fish. Schools of fish can be found near the inlets in good numbers, but also anywhere that you have good concentrations of bait. Z-Man, Gulp, and Blue Water Candy soft plastics have all been working. Colors like Opening Night, Bad Shad, Christmas Tree in clear water and Electric Chicken and chartreuse in stained water. Mirrolure 17 MR’s, 18MR’s, and 52MR’s have all been good choices. Most of the flounder have moved back into the ocean, but there are a handful of fish that will stay inshore throughout the winter. Schools of slot sized red drum are starting to move off the flats towards the surf. The ones that stay inshore can usually be found in deeper water around docks or other structure. The fishing for Black Drum and Sheepheads has been good around the docks as well, try out the new First Flight Lures fiddler crab jig if you want to go hit the docks.
Surf fishing has been great for a few species over the last few weeks. Fresh shrimp, sand fleas, or Fishbites sand flea have been catching some very nice sized sea mullet, up to 3lbs. Lots of smaller trout are being caught, with a few nicer fish up to 4lbs being reported. Look for some reds to be schooled up along the beach, usually near the inlets.
Fishing in the Cape Fear River has started to bounce back, but most reports are still coming from areas south of Snow’s Cut. There are a handful of striper being caught on swimbaits and diving plugs further up the river.
Rough seas have kept most anglers from going out in the ocean recently. When you can get out, fishing for King Mackerel will probably require a long run out to ledges in the 30 mile range. The upside is that the bottom fishing should be great if you make it out that far. We have 2 weeks left before the grouper season closes on Dec. 31st. There are plenty of false albacore out in that range, as well. For the Kings, live bait, dead cigar minnows, and drone spoons will put fish in the boat. For the Grouper, Cigar Minnows, Sardines, and Pinfish are all great baits to start with.
Fishing in the Gulf Stream has been great if you can locate the fish. There have been several boats to catch 10+ wahoo in a single trip over the last few weeks and there are some big ones in the mix. High Speed lures are a good way to locate the fish before deploying a spread of ballyhoo and traditional trolling plugs. Most of the best fishing has been in 150-180 ft of water, but the fish will move if a good temperature break or rip sets up. The bigger blackfin have been around but not in great numbers. They should respond to poppers, cedar plugs, and Green Machines. Sailfish have been a common occurrence in the same areas as well. They are eating the same rigs as the wahoo, Medium ballyhoo with seawitches, Islander and 6″-8″ trolling plugs. Pulling teasers and dredges will increase your chances of raising one.