Ocean Isle – December 14, 2017
Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that there are good numbers of speckled trout and black drum in the inshore waters. The best action has come from fishing the falling tide in and around tidal rips where creeks converge with larger bodies of water or other creeks.
Derek, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that the nearshore fishing has slowed down with the cooling water temps (from 59-64 degrees). Even though a lot of fish are moving offshore, some keeper-sized black sea bass are still prevalent in the 7-10 mile range.
Kings are being found east of the York Hole, with weights varying from 10-15 lbs. When fishing for the kings, be sure to look for 70 degree water, and using dead cigar minnows has seemed to work best as they move further off the beach.
The bluefin tuna bite has been good. Anglers have been hooking them by trolling horse ballyhoo up top.
Running 30-50 miles offshore to bottomfish has been producing gag grouper, black sea bass, scamp grouper, and beeliners. The best depth seems to be 110′ of water.
Trollers are picking up some wahoo, mostly on ballyhoo behind black and purple skirts. A few dolphin have also been caught, and the bite has even improved a little with the cooling temps around the Break.
Through the winter months, the black sea bass bite should start to move closer to the beach.
Kevin, of Rigged and Ready Charters, reports that there are plenty of king mackerel nearshore around the Horseshoe area. Anglers have had the most success using cigar minnows on a dead-bait king rig. With the temperatures still higher than normal, the kings will hopefully hang around longer than usual into the winter.
Shane, of Fin-Fisher Charter Service, reports that red drum are currently holding in shallow water, often near oyster beds. The reds are mostly hitting soft plastics, such as jerk shads and shrimp imitations.
Speckled trout are being found up the Lockwood Folly and Shallotte rivers. Target the deeper holes and rips for the best chance at finding fish. Lures that seem to be getting the most trout bites are Bass Assassins and MirrOlures.
Heading into winter will see the trout moving even further up into the river systems. With the colder waters, the fish will not be as active, so you’ll have more success fishing larger soft plastics and baits at a slower pace towards the bottom of the river.
Jacob, of J&J Charters, reports that redfish are currently being found in very shallow water. Since the water is so clear, the fish can be skittish, but redfish from 16-19” are abundant in the area. Bigger reds have been caught, but the upper slot reds (from 23-27”) are in smaller groups holding in deeper water. As the weather and water temperatures get colder, more reds in all size classes will push into the area seeking refuge from porpoises and looking for a warm mud flat to sun themselves.
The speckled trout bite has been excellent, with anglers having success both on live shrimp and by throwing soft plastics. It’s been common to catch an easy limit of four fish. Most trout have been 15-20” on average, but some larger trout (over 24”) have also been caught on occasion.
The trout will also continue to push deep into backwaters seeking refuge, becoming tightly bunched together (like the redfish). It will be difficult to find the trout at times during the winter, but when you do find them, there will be a bunch of them.
Kyle, of Speckulator Inshore Fishing Charters, reports that the trout fishing has been exceptional. There have been good numbers of fish, as well as a good overall average size. A majority of the fish have been in the 16-18″ range, with plenty of 18-20” fish in the mix as well. In addition, there have been fish up to 8 lbs. caught in the area. Live shrimp has been the ticket, but artificial lures like MirrOlures, shrimp imitations, and swim baits have been producing plenty of fish.
Anglers have been catching good numbers of reds and black drum in many of the same areas they are trout fishing, but the drum are beginning to move back up into the creeks.
That will be the trend in the coming weeks/months as well—the trout, red drum, and black drum will be in the backs of shallow creeks.
Stewart, of Rod and Reel Shop, reports that using Gulps in and around the river systems in the area has been working great for generating a trout bite. Though, as the cooler weather continues to push in, remember to fish your baits at a slower pace and at a deeper depth.
There has been some bluefish action in the surf and just off the beach.
Kings can be found nearshore, but out in that 30 mile range is where they are more readily available (as they continue to push offshore for winter).