Wrightsville Beach – Winter 2016 – 2017
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that speckled trout fishing remains good, with most anglers fishing creeks and bays off the waterway, surf, and inlets. For the most part these fish will be around through the next few months; slow presentations and light leaders will help put more fish in the boat when the water gets really cold.
Live shrimp and mud minnows under a popping cork or on a Carolina rig is a safe bet this time of year for trout, drum, and the few flounder that are around. Cut shrimp and Gulp soft plastics will catch red and black drum, and most of these fish will be around docks and deeper holes in creeks. At times the fish will move into shallow water over oysters or on dark mud bottoms because the sun is going to warm the water faster in these areas.
Fishing in the Cape Fear River has picked up, and spots near downtown are holding stripers and speckled trout. Storm swimbaits and Rapala X-Raps are working on both species.
The surf has still been holding a variety of fish. There have been some reports of large whiting and pompano being caught on shrimp and sand fleas. Anglers fishing with bait have also been catching pufferfish, black drum, and bluefish. Red drum and speckled trout fishing can be good once you locate them. Deep sloughs along the beach and near the piers are good places to start. The reds will also spend some time on the shoals around the inlets.
MirrOlures and soft plastics are a good way to target the trout. Red drum will readily eat cut shrimp or mullet, but they can also be caught with Gulp shrimp and other soft plastics. Fishing large cut bait will produce sharks and skates.
Depending on the water temperature, most of this fishing will remain steady into mid-January, with smooth and spiny dogfish being the most prevalent species after that.
A few false albacore and kings are still being caught off the beach, but the best reports have been coming from anglers that are fishing 15-20 miles out. Look for temperature breaks and bait that intersect a ledge or other structure. A lot of fish have been caught with live bait, but Drone spoons, Yo-Zuri Deep Divers, and dead cigar minnows on Blue Water Candy Wedgies will produce as well. These fish will work their way further offshore as the water temperature drops. Gray trout are still being caught at nearshore wrecks within a few miles of the beach, and sheepshead and tautog will use the same structure in the winter. Flounder will be on structure in the ocean anywhere from 5-15 miles off.
The gag grouper fishing has been good at bottom structure starting at around 65′ of water out to 90′. Along with the gags, anglers are also seeing decent numbers of black sea bass and grunts.
Boats that have been making the run to the break have been reporting wahoo and blackfin tuna. High speed lures have been catching wahoo, and so has skirted ballyhoo rigs both on top and on the planer rod. A few sailfish are being reported, as well as some scattered small mahi.
Anglers that are dropping to the bottom have had good catches of beeliners, triggerfish, and pink snapper on squid.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that speckled trout fishing remains strong, although there are many smaller-sized fish to weed through. Areas in proximity to the inlets, including the Masonboro jetties, have been productive. Live shrimp rigged on slip floats have been the most productive, but anglers are also producing good catches on MirrOlures, Yo-Zuri shrimp, and Z-Man Trout Tricks and paddletails.
Waterway docks are producing good catches of red and black drum, mainly on cut shrimp. Surf anglers are reporting sea mullet, black drum, and pufferfish on cut shrimp and sand flea Fishbites.
Striper fishing has improved in the past few weeks in the downtown stretches of the Cape Fear River, with most of the action on Bomber Long A’s and Storm swimbaits.
King mackerel action continues to be very steady, but it has pushed off the beach a bit with the cooling temperatures. AR’s and ledges in the 20-25 mile range have been producing good results for anglers trolling both dead cigar minnows and Drone spoons. Gag grouper fishing has been very consistent in the 90’ range, mostly on cigar minnows on bottom rigs or Barefoot Decoy jigs. Larger-sized sea bass have been biting in the same range.
Gulf Stream action has improved, with good catches of wahoo and blackfin tuna being reported. Most of the wahoo action has come from around the Same Ole in 160-200’, with Blue Water Candy Jag and ballyhoo combos being the best bet. The blackfin have been coming a bit deeper, mainly on smaller Sea Vixen lures and cedar plugs.
Trevor, of ProFishNC, reports that speckled trout fishing has been excellent. Larger “gator” sized fish have responded well to larger baits.
Bottom fishing has been good from just off the beach to 12 miles. The bottom fishing will remain excellent in the 3-10 mile range throughout the winter. Black sea bass and porgies will make up the majority of bites. Tautog should begin to show up in the next couple weeks, and these delicious fish will remain in area waters throughout the winter.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that speckled trout are biting well around and near Wrightsville Beach. The trout are taking an interest in MirrOlures, Rapala X-Raps, and Yo-Zuri Crystal Shrimp. Soft plastic baits are also accounting for decent landings, and DOA, Blue Water Candy, and Z-Man lures and baits are all producing.
Red and black drum are biting well in the ICW and around area inlets. Lager groups of reds are on the beachfronts and the shoaling areas adjacent to inlets.
Striped bass and speckled trout are biting in the Cape Fear River. Striped bass provide steady action most of the winter, in and near the downtown Wilmington area. Soft plastics and diving crankbaits work well for the stripers.
Reeves, of Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, reports that speckled trout continue to provide action, and early in the morning has been the most consistent. Bluefish are being caught throughout the day, with both cut baits and Gotcha plugs fooling these fish.
Sea mullet fishing has been decent lately, with some nice-sized fish being caught. Fresh shrimp is the most effective way to connect.
Sea mullet, flounder, blues, trout, and black drum will provide action throughout the winter.