Fish Post

Topsail – December 14, 2017

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Chris, of East Coast Sports, reports that the sound side of Topsail has been hot, with speckled trout just about everywhere. MirrOlures and the Hot Chicken Bass Assassins are the top baits for the specks, which are also biting (albeit in slightly smaller numbers) off of local piers and in the surf. Red drum are still being caught at the point, and spots are coming in two at a time inshore, which is surprising for this time of year.

From the beach, good numbers of large sea mullet and citation pompano are being pulled in. Just like the inshore spot bite, the sea mullet bite is unseasonably strong—and you can expect it to stay that way as long as the water remains a little warmer than usual. Albies are moving up and down the beach and can be caught from the boat, while the kings have moved out and are biting Mackahoos around 20 miles out.

A few bluefin have been pulled in around Christmas Rock, but offshore fishing has overall been a bit quiet. For bottom fishermen, send down some squid on nearshore structure to take advantage of a decent sea bass presence.

Through the winter, expect to see tautogs and puffers in the ocean and decent numbers of black drum in the creeks. The drum can be caught using shrimp on the bottom. Speckled trout will be found here and there, both in the surf and sound, while offshore anglers can take advantage of a bluefin bite between 10 and 20 miles out.

 

Mike, of Native Son, reports that while the trout bite has been good, unfortunately the small specks are the ones showing up in the biggest numbers.

Every school will have bigger fish in it, and using a bigger bait like the MirrOlure MirrOdine XL or a Z-Man diesel minnow may help you pick them out of the mix.

Red drum are still thick in the marsh, but a lot of the bigger fish have begun to move to the surf zone. The inshore drum are being caught while sight fishing. Cruise quietly and look for the reds around oyster beds and points. When surf fishing, look for the reds hiding in sloughs. It may be hard to locate them, but once you do, they’re aggressive and biting in good numbers.

 

Joey Warren, of Scotts Hill, NC, with a gag grouper caught on live bait from a ledge 20 miles out of Topsail Inlet, fishing aboard the C-Wolff with Capt. Paulie

 

Chadwick, of South End Anglers, reports that trout are continuing to bite in great numbers, with MR18s, Trout Tricks, and Fathom Inshore jigs providing the most action. Boat basins, bridges, and creeks are where most of the fish are congregating, with a few coming from area inlets.

Bluefish are biting both inshore and off the beach, while a few flounder have been pulled in with Z-Man soft plastics on jig heads. Both red and black drum are still going strong, biting jigs and both live and dead shrimp. You’ll find the drum around oyster rocks, docks, and bridges.

Bottom fishing has been productive in the 3-10 mile range, with good catches of sea bass, grunts, and grouper coming in on metal jigs and squid. Just about any nearshore AR, ledge, or live bottom area should produce fish.

Over the winter months, expect the speck bite to stay strong as long as the water temperature stays above 50 degrees. Areas along the mainland that have dark mud bottoms will hold the most trout, but they will also school around boat basins, canals, mainland creeks, and docks out of heavy current. Use long, light leaders and 1/8 oz. Fathom Inshore jigs to pull them in, and try to fish during the middle of the day when the water is warmest.

Both red and black drum will continue to feed throughout the winter, and they should be fished for with the freshest shrimp that you can find on light Carolina rigs with 2/0 circle hooks.

Sea bass and tautogs will provide good action through the winter on nearshore structure. Use squid baits around ARs, hard bottoms, and ledges. You may also find a grey trout or two.

 

Curren Corder with a 22” black drum caught near Rich’s Inlet. He was fishing with his father, Wes Corder.

 

Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that there have been a lot of trout, flounder, drum, and striped bass biting, with some coming from Topsail inshore waters (trout and flounder) and others coming from the Cape Fear River around downtown Wilmington. The best lures for these species have been white jerk shads and paddle tails on jig heads, in addition to white and chartreuse clouser minnows. Topwater baits and flies have also been producing.

Even with the full force of winter just around the corner, there is still a lot of great fishing to be had. Stripers, reds, and the occasional trout or flounder will all be biting throughout the colder months.

On pretty days, taking the boat offshore about 15-30 miles should offer some solid action on sea bass and other fish in the reef complex. Kings will be found in the 20-40 mile range in good numbers, with dead bait rigs and cigar minnows likely to provide the best action.

 

Joe, of Seaview Fishing Pier, reports a strong presence of mullet, trout, black drum, and bluefish. Anglers are using live shrimp and dead shrimp on jig heads to pull in most of the fish.

Winter anglers can expect to find puffers and even more mullet deep into the colder months.

 

Vinita, of Surf City Pier, reports that anglers have been catching a number of large mullet. The biggest fish have been coming in off live shrimp, while the rest are going for Fishbites.

The trout and bluefish bite have both been impressive, though the fish have generally been small.

 

Brandi, of Jolly Roger Pier, reports that a little bit of everything is being pulled up. There have been a ton of good-sized mullet (especially after dark), and a strong speckled trout bite early in the morning.

In addition to a few flounder here and there, a fantastic number of good chopper blues have been fooled with Gotcha plugs. Throughout the winter, expect the blues to remain strong, and then puffers will begin to join the mix.