Morehead City – March 23, 2017
Matt, of Chasin Tails, reports that the sea mullet bite has slowed down from the large numbers seen a few weeks ago, but as the temperatures get back up into the 60s, the bite should turn back on. “Sam’s Gitters” spec rigs tipped with bait shrimp has been the way to connect with the fish. Look for them out towards the inlet in deeper waters until the air gets a bit warmer.
Gray trout have been mixed in with the sea mullet in the same areas, with some fish still hanging around the railroad tracks.
The bluefish have been thick in the area around Beaufort Inlet and up towards the Cape Lookout area. Trolling both Clarkspoons and the new Bowed-Up spoons, as well as casting Jig Fish lures, were all working on the fish. Anglers were also seeing some chopper bluefish schools around Shackleford.
There have been a few albacore working along the beaches, and anglers should look for birds working the water to find the fish. The best action has been between AR-315 and the beach.
It’s still a bit early for a strong flounder bite to be happening, but anglers hanging out on the reefs have found success with the flatfish by jigging Spro bucktails.
The redfish action was great in the Cape Lookout area over the last week. Schools of smaller fish were working all around the Shark Island area, and large schools of bull drum were right off the shoals, hitting anything thrown in front of them.
There are also schools still holding inshore up in the creeks and marsh areas.
Anglers are finding some black drum around the docks and bridges fishing bait shrimp off the bottom.
A few speckled trout have been weighed in the past week, with no large fish reported but many in at least the 5 lb. range. Most of these fish are being caught in the backwater creeks, and a few were landed at Radio Island and in the Haystacks before the front moved in. Anglers fishing up Adams Creek towards the Neuse River have also found the trout. Bett’s Halo shrimp, Z-Man soft plastics, MirrOlure MR17s, and the new Yo-Zuri twitch lures have been working best.
Sea bass are chewing nearshore, and boats have been returning with fish from as close in as AR-330. The further out you go, the bigger the fish will get. Northwest Places, Big 10-Little 10, AR-285, and the Atlas Tanker are all holding good numbers of fish, and it hasn’t taken long for anglers to reach their limit.
Anglers fishing off the piers are connecting with black drum, bluefish, and pufferfish, though the water hasn’t been great for there to be too much success yet.
Those hitting the surf have found bluefish and pufferfish up at the Fort Macon State Park area. Speckled trout were being caught up at the Radio Island beach area, too.
Offshore, the boats are finding wahoo around Big Rock, and they’re also connecting with blackfin tuna in the same area. Bionic ballyhoo and Bait Master ballyhoo are working, and having fresh ballyhoo makes a real difference when targeting the wahoo.
Paul, of Freeman’s Bait and Tackle, reports that anglers in the surf are reporting drum, both black and red, in the suds. Along with the drum, there are pufferfish, sea mullet, and the winter standard of shark, skates, and stingrays being caught. Cut mullet can be used, but shrimp has been the preferred bait for those fishing from the shore.
Speckled trout have been biting up in the marsh, favoring soft plastics and MirrOlures.
There’s been a great red drum bite on the Cape Lookout shoals, with both little reds and large bull reds. Soft plastics, specifically Gulp, are the ticket to landing the fish, but some anglers are also having success using bucktails. Most of the fish can be sight-casted to, with anglers finding big schools in the whitewater. Cast to the outside of the schools, as to not spook the fish, and pick them off one at a time.
Those looking for a bit more action also found a brief showing of false albacore off the beach.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that the speckled trout bite is on fire in the area. Any place where they are typically found in the fall, they can currently be found. They are setting up in the sounds and in the front of the creeks. MirrOlures and Trout Tricks are doing the job, sized from 16”+, with 22” being very common.
Sea mullet, gray trout, spots, and croakers are all in the turning basin. Shrimp and Fishbites are working on the panfish, while the gray trout are favoring jigging spoons and weighted plastics.
There are plenty of bluefish mixed in all over the region.
Cape Lookout is covered in drum in mixed sizes, from in-slot to over-slot. Along the shoals in deeper water, it’s easy to mark and find the big bull drum in around 25’ of water. Other drum are working the beaches along the shoals and around Shark Island. Anglers will be able to sight-cast to them on occasion, and these fish are eating any soft plastic thrown in front of them.
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that there are many old drum hanging out around the Cape Lookout shoals, and the big fish, between 36-48”, will take artificials and bucktails. Those looking for some topwater action should be able to tempt bites that way, too.
Black sea bass have been active offshore, with fish between 14-18” being caught on the east side in about 90’ of water. Squid on a bottom rig is the go-to way to connect with the bass.
False albacore have been surfacing in similar areas, and throwing Stingsilvers should connect with these fish. There are also plenty of bluefish in the area, from the Cape Lookout jetties to around the shoals and out to the reefs. Expect these fish, weighing 1.5-3 lbs., to chase lures like Stingsilvers, too.
Thomas, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that anglers are connecting with wahoo and yellowfin off the Big Rock. Troll seawitches and ballyhoo to connect with these fish. As the water warms over the next few weeks, the bite should improve.
Oceanana Pier is scheduled to open March 23.