Fish Post

Wrightsville Beach July 19, 2012

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Farrell, Jeff, and Harper Scott with a 13 lb. hogfish and a 7 lb. triggerfish that struck cigar minnows while they were fishing some bottom structure 50 miles off Masonboro Inlet.

Arlen, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that anglers are starting to see some king mackerel within 10 miles of the beaches, including a few feeding alongside spanish mackerel at the nearshore AR’s. Live and dead baits will tempt bites from the kings.

Large spanish mackerel are feeding around structure from the 3-10 mile range, and small live baits will get their attention.

Anglers are hooking plenty of smaller spanish while trolling Clarkspoons and other lures from the inlet on out to around 40’ of water.

Some gaffer dolphin and a few sailfish hookups have been reported from the 20-30 mile range recently. Live baits and rigged ballyhoo will tempt bites from both.

Bottom fishermen are finding some excellent gag grouper action at structure around 20 miles out. Live baits are top choices for the gags, but anglers can also hook up on dead cigar minnows, sardines, cut baits, and other offerings.

The majority of the legal black sea bass have moved out to structure 25+ miles out, where squid, cut baits, and small vertical jigs will produce plenty of action.

Red and scamp groupers are holding at spots in the 35-50 mile range and will respond to the same tactics as the gags.

Inshore, the flounder bite is still good around Wrightsville, with some large fish reported from Snow’s Cut and the Cape Fear River. Drifting the inlets and channels with live baits and Gulps will produce the best numbers of flounder, while anglers targeting larger flatfish should key in on inshore structure with big live baits.

There are also still good numbers of flatfish feeding at nearshore structure in the ocean, and 2 oz. bucktails tipped with Gulp baits are the way to go off the beaches.

Red drum are looking for meals in the creeks and inlets, under docks, and on the flats behind the barrier islands. Live and cut baits, Gulps, and topwater plugs are all excellent choices for the reds.


Capt. Jot Owens, of Jot It Down Charters, and Reaghan Juelke (age 9) with her first drum. She caught and released the over-slot fish in Masonboro Inlet.

Jon, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that some dolphin and sailfish are starting to move inshore, and anglers reported encounters at spots 20-40 miles out last weekend. Ballyhoo trolled in combination with dredge and daisy chain teasers will tempt bites from both pelagic gamefish.

More dolphin and sails are feeding on out to the Gulf Stream, where boats are also encountering a few wahoo.

Blue and white marlin are feeding a bit further off the break in around 100 fathoms of water, and both ballyhoo and skirted lures will tempt bites from the marlin.

Inshore, there are still good numbers of red drum feeding in the shallows from Topsail down to the Cape Fear River. Topwater plugs, Gulp baits, live baits, and flies can all be productive with the reds depending on how aggressively they’re feeding.

Flounder fishing remains good in the inlets, creeks, and around inshore structure. Gulp baits or live finger mullet and menhaden are the way to go for the flatfish.


Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that bottom fishing around structure 35-40 miles offshore has been producing solid catches of gag, red, and scamp grouper. Smaller fish like grunts, pinkies, triggerfish, and sea bass are in the same areas. Live and dead baits are top choices for the groupers, and squid or cut baits will tempt bites from the other bottom dwellers.

Good numbers of king mackerel and some dolphin are in the same areas and responding well to light-lined baits while boats are anchored up and bottom fishing.

Further out, jigging along the break is producing fast action and brutal battles with amberjacks (some to 60”). Dropping the jigs or baited rigs to the bottom in the same areas is appealing to red and snowy grouper, tilefish, and a variety of other bottom species.

Gulf Stream trolling has been a bit slow lately, but anglers are connecting with some dolphin and sailfish while dragging ballyhoo and skirted lures in the blue water.


Kyle Peters with a tagged 29.5" red drum that bit a live finger mullet on a Carolina rig near Masonboro Inlet. The fish was released just after the photograph.

Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that anglers are connecting with some gag grouper, black sea bass, and cobia while bottom fishing at spots 8-15 miles out. Cigar minnows and sardines on bottom rigs are producing most of the action.

Some king mackerel and dolphin are in the same areas and will pounce on live menhaden or dead cigar minnows.

Spanish mackerel action has been up-and-down lately, with a fast bite some days and fish tough to find on others. Clarkspoons pulled behind planers and trolling weights are the way to tempt bites from the spanish.


Lynn, of Shearwater Charters, reports that the spanish mackerel bite is still solid around Masonboro Inlet, with the fish feeding right around the inlet some days and a bit further offshore (to about 40’ of water) on others. Trolled Clarkspoons are putting the spaniards in the box when anglers find them.

Further offshore, trolling in the 30 mile range is producing some action with dolphin. Rigged ballyhoo are tempting bites from the ‘phins.

Gag grouper, black sea bass, grunts, and other bottom dwellers are in the same areas, and dead baits on bottom rigs will tempt bites from them all.


Steve, of Johnnie Mercers Pier, reports that anglers are catching plenty of bluefish and a few spanish mackerel while working Gotcha plugs and other metal lures from the pier.

Some sea mullet are taking an interest in bottom rigs baited with shrimp, with the best action in the evening hours.

Flounder are feeding under the pier and will strike small live baits.

Live-baiters fishing from the end of the pier landed a 22 lb. barracuda last week.

The water is 84 degrees.