Swansboro – Winter 2016 – 2017
Rob, of Sandbar Safari Charters, reports that large speckled trout have pushed into mainland creeks and rivers. Smaller trout are still being caught throughout Bogue Sound, but they will also move into the creeks as the water cools in the coming months. Anglers are tempting bites from both using soft plastics on jig heads and suspended twitch baits. As the water cools and fish become more lethargic, live mud minnows can be the key to success to connecting with these picky winter-time fish.
Black drum are moving into some of the same areas as the trout and will take interest in live or artificial shrimp.
Red drum are being caught in the backwater marshes, behind the barrier islands, in creek mouths, and in the surf. These large schools of fish will move between the beach and the sound depending on the water temperature. If the winter is cold, anglers should target reds from the surf due to the warmer water temperature. However, during a mild winter, the reds will often be found in the marshes on warm mudflats and oyster beds. Small soft plastics scented with Pro-Cure will often be the bait of choice for winter time reds.
Jonathan, of On Point Fishing Charters, reports that the speckled trout fishing has slowed down slightly, with most of the keeper-sized fish moving up the rivers and mainland creeks. These fish are headed into their winter habitats and are falling for suspending MirrOlures, Zoom jerk shads, and live shrimp. The smaller trout are still feeding in the sound and will make their way into the creeks as the water temperature drops.
Sight fishing for red drum has improved with the cooling water. The fish are being found patrolling mud flats and grass banks, and they are being fooled by Gulp jerk shads and shrimp on jig heads. The reds will frequent these same areas until the water cools and they are forced out of the inlet. In the case of a mild winter, the reds will stay in the marsh throughout the cold months.
Flounder are being found on the nearshore reefs where they are being caught using 2 oz. Spro bucktails tipped with Gulp baits. As the water cools, the flatfish will move into deeper water in the 100’ range where they can be caught alongside plenty of black sea bass.
Rich, of The Reel Outdoors, reports that surf anglers have been connecting with steady numbers of red drum and the occasional speckled trout on area beaches. Both fish are taking an interest in live bait on fish finder rigs, as well as soft plastics on jig heads. Suspending twitch baits have also been tempting bites on calm days when anglers can cast to them past the breakers.
Speckled trout have started to move into the mainland creeks and rivers. Most of these fish are keeper-sized trout, as the smaller trout are still out in the sound. Soft plastics on jig heads or below a popping cork has been tempting plenty of bites, and so have suspended baits like MirrOlures. Live mud minnows below a popping cork or lightly pinned to the bottom can also save the day when the fish are cold and lethargic. Anglers should look for more trout to move into area creeks as the water cools.
Flounder are still being caught on the nearshore reefs, but they are beginning to move offshore to their winter habitats where they can be caught in the 100’ range. Bucktails tipped with cut bait (like squid) or Gulp baits will tempt bites from the flatfish throughout the winter.
Offshore, anglers are finding good numbers of wahoo and blackfin tuna while trolling naked and skirted ballyhoo in the Gulf Stream. High speed lures like Dinner-Bells and Yo-Zuri bonita are also fooling good numbers of wahoo, particularly in dark colors like red/black and purple/black.
Bobby, of Teezher Charters, reports that the flounder bite has been excellent at nearshore reefs. These tasty bottom feeders are being fooled with 2-3 oz. Spro bucktails tipped with cut baits or Gulp shrimp. Plenty of small black sea bass are mixed in with the flounder and can be taken on the same baits. As the water cools, more flounder will move offshore into the 100’ range where they will stay for the duration of the winter.
The king mackerel have moved back offshore and can occasionally be found in the 20-30 mile range where they are feeding in large schools. Drone spoons pulled behind a #2 planer or 3-4 oz. trolling weight have been fooling the lion’s share of the kings, but anglers are also connecting with plenty of fish while pulling cigar minnows on Hank Brown rigs.
Further offshore, anglers are catching wahoo and blackfin tuna while trolling naked and skirted ballyhoo in the popular bluewater hotspots. Anglers have reported sightings of giant bluefin tuna skyrocketing on the large schools of big shad in the area. A variety of live and artificial baits can be used to catch one of these giant tunas.
Inshore, the speckled trout are moving into mainland creeks and rivers where they are being caught off soft plastics on a jig head or beneath a popping cork. Live baits like mud minnows and shrimp are also effective baits, particularly on cold days when the trout are lethargic and not easily tempted by artificials.
Bogue Inlet Pier remains closed for the rest of the season, but anglers are still catching spot, sea mullet, and blow toads in the surf around the pier while soaking fresh shrimp on double drop bottom rigs.