Carolina Beach – March 23, 2017
Lewis, of Island Tackle and Hardware, reports that anglers in the surf are connecting with pufferfish and not much else, due to the rough conditions.
Those heading to the river are connecting with red drum and black drum. Anglers can expect a lot of smaller rat reds, but many will be in-slot. Dead shrimp is the go-to for connecting with the drum.
The speckled trout are still feeding in the same areas in the river, and they’re being caught on live shrimp, small X-Raps, and small MirrOlures.
Those heading up the Cape Fear will still find the stripers biting well, and those heading south towards the mouth of the river will connect with large whiting on two-drop rigs and shrimp.
Nearshore, anglers hitting the reefs have found gray trout and an abundance of black sea bass. If you can get past the sea bass, there are flounder on the reefs as well.
Around the tower in 60-70 degree water, kings are still schooling, and wahoo and blackfin can be found out in the Stream. Troll blue/white color combos to connect with the winter feeders.
Christian, of Seahawk Inshore Fishing Charters, reports that anglers are finding good numbers of red drum holding in creeks, the lower part of the river, over shell beds, and near deep drop-offs. Scented artificials, such as Z-Man and Gulp, are proving the most successful. The fish are ranging in size from 15-18”, with a few fish in the 20-23” range and the occasional 25”+ fish.
Black drum are being found in the same areas as the red drum. Most fish are 13-14”, with some fish up into the 16-17” range. Dead shrimp on Carolina rigs is the ticket to connecting with the drum.
There are speckled trout holding in the creeks, and they can be found in the same areas as the red drum. The trout are eating the same scented artificials as the drum are, and anglers are seeing most fish in the 16-18” range, with a few 21” fish mixed in.
Large whiting are being caught in the mouth of the Cape Fear River, with two-drop rigs tipped with shrimp proving to be the most successful in landing the seasonally large fish.
Luke, of Topwater Guide Co., reports that the redfish bite has been decent when targeting them around the docks of the ICW and smaller creeks. Try working Gulp soft plastics in pearl and natural colors to tempt a bite, or throw Carolina rigs tipped with shrimp on the days they won’t take artificials. Most seem to be lower to under-slot fish (15-20”), but anglers can also expect to connect with 25-28” fish.
Black drum are mixed in the same areas, with the fish (ranging 13-19”) favoring fresh shrimp on Carolina rigs.
Trout are around during the warming trends, biting Down South Lures soft plastics with consistency. Use a 1/8 oz. jighead so that it will sink slowly. Natural colors, such as magic grass, have been working well on the fish, and they should be targeted in lower parts of the river (near the saltier water). Most of the fish have been holding in 6-10’ of water, and they are 13-15” on average, with some 18” fish mixed in.
There are flounder here and there. Most have been caught on accident, but it’s a sign that they have started to move in.
Rod, of OnMyWay Charters, reports that the cooler water temperatures have slowed the bite some. Anglers looking to connect with bottom fish should look for black sea bass in the 15-20 mile range. Anglers can throw the smaller ones back, as it is easy to limit out with the big guys (starting at over 16” long). Triggerfish, snappers, and beeliners are also schooling in the same areas.
King mackerel have moved offshore due to the cold water, and anglers can begin to find them 40 miles out and further.
The wahoo bite is strong in the Stream, and anglers should hit the rocky ledges, find the structure, and target the fish in 72 degree water and above. The blackfin bite has decreased.
The Atlantic bonito are still a few weeks away, but once we get a big east blow and some warm weather, the bite should overall improve.
Jesse, of Ocean Stinger Fishing Charters, reports that the warmer temperatures have moved the fish closer to shore. The king mackerel and false albacore bite is good in 80-110’ of water. Kings are being found in water temperatures that are holding in at least 66 degrees. Drone spoons are the ticket to connecting with the large mackerel, with the preferred colors being gold/silver, silver, and pink/silver, all pulled behind #2 planers.
The falsies are hitting green or pink topwater skirt rigs with silver coloring in the heads.
The black sea bass bite has been steady 10 miles from the beach and around the ARs. Cut bait on bottom rigs, like ballyhoo and squid, is proving successful.
A few anglers report that the Gulf Stream wahoo and sailfish bite has been steady, but you have to pick a good weather window to make that run.
Kure Beach Pier will reopen March 31, but anglers can still use the side gate to go fishing if they would like.
Carolina Beach Pier will reopen March 25. Anglers that have hit the pier recently have found some success with Virginia mullet.