Southport – March 23, 2017
John, of Dutchman Creek Bait and Tackle, reports that anglers are catching small trout in the surf and pufferfish and whiting in the river.
Back in the creeks, anglers are catching larger trout on Vudu and DOA shrimp under popping corks. Redfish and the occasional black drum can be landed using cut shrimp in similar areas.
Jimmy, of Wildlife Bait & Tackle, reports that anglers are catching Virginia mullet on bait shrimp and artificial bloodworms in the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and on the mud flats around Caswell in 14-16’ of water.
There are a few keeper flounder, small for the most part, but a few 2-2.5 lb. fish have been reported.
The speckled trout bite is really good right now. Vudu shrimp, curly tailed grubs, and MirrOlures such as the MR17s are working well on the trout, as well as the red drum.
Those looking to target just the drum will find success with Falling Tide lures, gold spoons, and live bait (like mud minnows, when you can find them).
Mark, of Angry Pelican, reports that the black sea bass are biting from within sight of the beach out to 15-18 miles. Water temperatures are starting to ease into the low 60’s, and these fish are holding on structure starting in about 45’ of water. Double drop bottom rigs with an offset or circle hook, and a 6-8 oz. weight depending on depth and current, should get bait to the bottom and away from smaller fish.
With water temperatures still relatively cool, the bass won’t move as far to eat, so thoroughly examine the ledge or rock before moving to the next spot. Once they start chewing, mix things up with a bucktail or soft plastic coated in Pro-Cure squid oil to land some of the bigger ones holding in the area. Using 30 lb. braid may be overkill for the bass, but it’s recommended as there have been some citation-sized red drum wintering in the same areas in 40’ of water.
The whiting bite in the Cape Fear River has been good on the tide changes, high or low. Averaging around one pound, the fish are a great fight on light tackle, and fluorocarbon double rigs with small hooks and fresh bait, with just enough weight to keep the bait on bottom, should produce good results.
Wally, of Oak Island Charters, reports that most captains are reporting small red drum and black drum, and although most are under-slot, there are a few that are legal. Use cut shrimp on a Carolina rig to connect with the fish. The bite should improve as the waters warm.
Ryan, of Fugitive Charters, reports that with the Lockwood Folly Inlet in bad shape, most offshore anglers in the area have been fishing the backwaters. Trout are being caught in the area on artificials, and flounder have started to show up.
Nearshore, around structure like the Lighthouse Rocks, those dropping bait down are connecting with bull reds. Offshore, black sea bass are still biting.
The Oak Island Pier is now closed, though the restaurant and bait shop remain open. The pier is currently scheduled to be rebuilt and reopened by spring 2018.
Steve, of Ocean Crest Pier, reports that anglers are not connecting with much, but those hitting the planks have found whiting and pufferfish, with both species taking shrimp.