Morehead City – December 14, 2017
Matt, of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, reports that tons of speckled trout are being caught in the area, with the size of the trout varying from day to day. The winter months, though, seem to produce bigger specks being caught more frequently.
Core Creek, the Haystacks, and Bogue Sound are all holding fish, as well as the Adams Creek area towards the Neuse River. Into the winter months, anglers will start to see larger trout moving more into and holding in the back end of creeks.
MirrOlures (MR17 and MR18) seem to be the top producers, with Swimming Trout Tricks, EZ Shrimp, and Z-Man Trout Tricks working as well. As for live bait, shrimp is still the meal of choice, but as the water temps continue to drop, the specks will start to hone in on mud minnows.
Redfish are schooled up tightly in creeks and marsh areas, with some even being caught along the beachfront. Anglers have also been running into schools of reds along the Shark Island and Shackleford Banks areas. Since water clarity is clear now (and will only continue to get more clear during the winter), these schools of redfish will be easy to spot, especially in shallow water.
As for flounder, anglers continue to find limits of fish, including several keeper-sized fish. The port wall and AR-315 have been seeing good flounder action using Spro 2 oz. bucktails tipped with 4” Gulp shrimp (as well as dropping live mud minnows on Carolina rigs).
Big schools of sea mullet around the inlet area are providing all kinds of action. Some large schools have also been spotted in front of Shackleford Banks. For those looking for the best chance of success, between the Dead Tree Hole and Cape Lookout Inlet (in around 40′ of water) should be the prime area to target. Staying on the move and covering lots of water to locate these massive schools with your bottom scanner is the key to catching numbers of fish.
Inlet anglers have also been seeing good numbers of gray trout and bluefish, mainly in the turning basin area.
Even though it’s getting late in the season for false albacore, strong numbers of them are still being caught just off the beachfront. As long as the weather stays warm (keeping the water temps higher), the fish should be hanging around for at least a few more weeks.
The king mackerel fishing is hit-or-miss now that the water has cooled and the fish are starting to move offshore. Some anglers have had success on the east side of Cape Lookout, around 17 Rock, and near the Atlas Tanker area. The east side has also been producing some great bottom fishing for grouper, sea bass, triggerfish, and snapper. The primary baits to use have been squid and cigar minnows.
Offshore is still seeing some wahoo in the area, with anglers targeting the Big Rock down to the Swansboro Hole.
Paul, of Freeman’s Bait and Tackle, reports that surf fishing has been up and down with winter approaching. Anglers casting out cut shrimp and mullet in the surf zone have found decent numbers of red and black drum (some of which have been in the slot). A few speckled trout have also started to feed in the suds. Anglers have had the most success casting MirrOlures and soft plastics on jig heads to the trout.
Moving into the next few months, the backwaters and shallow creeks should start offering more speckled trout and red drum. Focusing on dark muddy bottoms will produce the best numbers of fish, as the darker bottom retains more heat through the winter.
The speckled trout bite in the surf should also remain strong through January. Casting MirrOlures and slowing down your retrieve with any offering should produce bites.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that there’s good trout fishing in the backs of creeks and along surf zones.
Flounder fishing has been solid around ledges and the artificial reefs that sit in 60-70′ of water. Dropping bucktails, as well as live or cut bait on bottom rigs, is generating most of the flatfish hookups.
Red drum, flounder, and trout have been very active during the nighttime hours. Anglers should target water around any illuminated dock, looking for bait and/or feeding activity.
The bluefin tuna reports have been solid, with several fish caught in the area (and even spotted feeding behind shrimp boats).
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that the inshore speckled trout and redfish action continues to be very steady. Casting soft plastics on jig heads and under popping corks has worked best on both the redfish and trout.
Live shrimp have also been producing well for both species. Rigging the shrimp under popping corks with light fluorocarbon leader has been the best tactic.
Nearshore, bottom fishing continues to be very good. Anglers are finding a lot of citation and near-citation red drum around the shoals. There are also plenty of false albacore still hanging around.
Jigging around nearshore structure is producing solid numbers of trout and flounder.
Also, it’s not uncommon to find kings hanging around the east side of the shoals into the winter, if warmer water is still pushing in.
Thomas, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that good blackfin tuna and king fishing is still taking place around the Big Rock, while the bottom fishing has been productive starting in the 20-fathom range.
Also, targeting swordfish can be good out in deeper waters (when the weather allows you to get out there), with some big ones caught recently, including a 500+ pounder.