Sarah Gagliardo

Southport – Winter 2016 – 2017

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Jimmy, of Wildlife Bait & Tackle, reports that the speckled trout bite is heating up, with anglers catching fish on artificials like curly tailed grubs and Z-Man soft plastics, as well as MirrOlures.

Red drum are being caught in the cooler waters on spinnerbaits and MirrOlures, as well as soft plastics like Gulps.

A few anglers have managed to hook keeper-sized flounder in the area while trout fishing, with the flatfish taking curly tailed grubs.

Anglers using two-drop bottom rigs have been connecting with whiting and croaker in the river.

The spots have left the area, and they didn’t make much of an appearance in 2016.

Anglers fishing through the winter can expect speckled trout and reds. Use the same baits the fish are currently taking, but fish the baits slowly.

Louise Ackerman, of Oak Island, with her first flounder. The fish fell for cut mullet near McGlamery Reef and measured in at 22”.

Louise Ackerman, of Oak Island, with her first flounder. The fish fell for cut mullet near McGlamery Reef and measured in at 22”.

Angie, of Dutchman Creek Bait and Tackle, reports that anglers are connecting with trout in the creeks, backwaters, and around Davis Canal. Anglers can expect to catch the specks through the winter.

Offshore, the king mackerel are biting near the Horseshoe and Frying Pan Tower.

Matt Bailey (age 16), of Carthage, with a 22” speckled trout caught on a Gulp pogie near the Lockwood Folly River.

Matt Bailey (age 16), of Carthage, with a 22” speckled trout caught on a Gulp pogie near the Lockwood Folly River.

Mark, of Angry Pelican Charters, reports that the speckled trout fishing is great in the Lockwood Folly River and in the inlet areas. Live shrimp on float rigs is producing the best bite, and anglers can expect the fish to be here through the winter in the creeks behind Bald Head Island, along with Dutchman’s Creek, Davis Canal, and the Elizabeth River. The average size of the specks are 2-3 lbs., but larger fish are not uncommon. When shrimp become hard to find, the chartreuse curly tail grubs will work on the lightest lead heads you can find.

Anglers in the surf have been connecting with whiting along the beaches off and on through November, and the action should continue until the water temperature gets into the lower 50s. The fish are taking fresh shrimp, artificial bloodworms, and Fishbites on bottom rigs.

south-burton-king

The flounder action has slowed, but there are still a few fish around.

The black drum bite in the Lockwood River has been good and should remain so as the water temperature cools. Shrimp on the bottom around docks and the mouths of feeder creeks into the main channel will produce some keeper fish.

Nearshore, gray trout and the occasional red drum can still be found on nearshore reefs, as well as at spots like Lockwood Folly Inlet on the incoming tide. The trout should remain schooled up on nearshore structure during the cold winter months, and they will fall for cut bait on Carolina rigs or double drop bottom rigs.

Dawn Dayton, of Indian Trail, with a 20” speckled trout that fell for cut mullet on the west end of Oak Island.

Dawn Dayton, of Indian Trail, with a 20” speckled trout that fell for cut mullet on the west end of Oak Island.

As the water temperature drops into the 50s, the black sea bass will move from the offshore waters to nearshore structure such as Light House Rocks. Squid and a variety of cut baits on double or triple drop bottom rigs will tempt bites, but a diamond jig or Stingsilver will yield a fun fight for anglers using lighter tackle.

The king mackerel bite over the last month has been outstanding, but the fronts and high winds have pushed them further off the beach. Search for the fish between the Horseshoe and Frying Pan Tower area. The fish are holding in large schools around bottom structure, bait concentrations, and temperature breaks, and they should be found in those areas through the winter. Finding 65 degree water will be the ticket, and cigar minnows and Drone spoons will both tempt bites. False albacore should be in the same area.

Gary Schino, of Oak Island, with a 42” citation red drum caught and released from the Ocean Crest Pier.

Gary Schino, of Oak Island, with a 42” citation red drum caught and released from the Ocean Crest Pier.

Over the past few winters in December and January, bluefin tuna have also been around. If they arrive, they could feed from the Horseshoe to as far inshore as the Shark Hole.

Bottom fishing should be excellent in the vicinity of the Tower over the winter months, with snapper, triggerfish, grunts, and other bottom dwellers feeding around structure, ledges, live bottoms, and wrecks in 80’+. Live baits such as Boston mackerel are always a great choice, but cigar minnows and cut baits will also do the trick.

Andrew McNeely, of Hickory, with a 33.8 lb. king mackerel caught from his kayak off Oak Island. The fish fell for trolled menhaden.

Andrew McNeely, of Hickory, with a 33.8 lb. king mackerel caught from his kayak off Oak Island. The fish fell for trolled menhaden.

Wally, of Oak Island Charters, reports that the trout fishing has been great in creeks and backwaters in the area. Many are keeper-sized fish, and they can be hooked on live shrimp under a cork.

Heading into winter, the bite should continue until it gets really cold, and then the main bite in the inshore waters will turn to black and red drum. Throw cut shrimp to snag the winter drum.

Offshore on pretty days this winter, the wahoo fishing should be good for those wanting to troll.

Dwight Taylor, of Fayetteville, with a red caught on a Z-Man Trout Trick in the Southport area.

Dwight Taylor, of Fayetteville, with a red caught on a Z-Man Trout Trick in the Southport area.

Oak Island Pier is still open for the winter.

Juan Ventura, of Oak Island, with a 28 lb. king that fell for a live pogie. He was fishing from the side of the Oak Island Pier.

Juan Ventura, of Oak Island, with a 28 lb. king that fell for a live pogie. He was fishing from the side of the Oak Island Pier.

Ocean Crest Pier has closed for the winter but will reopen in March.

Sofia Wolfe, of Jacksonville, FL, with her first red drum. The fish was caught on a mud minnow in the Lockwood Folly River.

Sofia Wolfe, of Jacksonville, FL, with her first red drum. The fish was caught on a mud minnow in the Lockwood Folly River.