Wrightsville Beach – July 20, 2017
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that drum and flounder fishing has been good around creek mouths and grass banks, especially when the tide is falling. Mud minnows and finger mullet have been producing the most fish, but artificials (such as a Z-Man PaddlerZ or a spinnerbait rigged with a Gulp swimbait) can be used to cover more ground. Topwater baits have been catching a few drum and trout, and a twitch bait (like the MR17) is a good option on the flats.
Sheepshead and black drum are being caught around local docks and bridges. Fiddler crabs, shrimp, and sand fleas are the go to baits to target the sheeps.
Surf anglers are reporting slow fishing. Look for some slot-sized reds, small black drum, and small pompano to start cruising the surf. Cut mullet on a Carolina rig is a good way to fish for reds, bluefish, and smaller sharks. The occasional spanish mackerel, ladyfish, or bluefish can be caught on small casting jigs (1-2 oz.).
Nearshore, there have been a few flounder caught at the ARs, with some anglers also picking up large red drum. Fish either a bucktail tipped with a Gulp or a live bait on a Carolina rig.
Reports on the kings have been coming from 12-25 miles. The kings close to shore have been small, with a handful of larger fish being caught at the ledges out past 20 miles. Live menhaden or bluefish, cigar minnows on dead bait rigs, Drone spoons, and Yo-Zuri deep divers have been catching most of the kings.
A few sailfish and mahi have been caught in the 15-30 mile range.
Spanish mackerel fishing has been decent, with a few bluefish and false albacore mixed in. The fish have been scattered, with some larger citation fish being caught around the ARs that are 5+ miles out. Trolling size #0 and #00 Clarkspoons behind lead weights or planers will produce numbers, but light-lining a live mullet or pogie is a good way to target the larger fish
Gag grouper can be caught close to shore, but those seeking scamps and reds are traveling 30+ miles out. Live cigar minnows and pinfish are the best options.
There are still a few cobia being caught in the 3 mile range.
In the Gulf Stream, there are patches of small blackfin and a few wahoo. Marlin, sailfish, and mahi are still a possibility, but not in numbers. Pulling a spread of ballyhoo skirted with Sea Witches or Ilanders is a good way to cover water and target multiple species.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that despite the heat, flounder have been biting throughout the area. The best fishing has been from the deeper, inland-side waterway creeks and the inlets. Carolina-rigged live baits and Gulp shrimp are the best options.
Redfish are being reported on the flats behind Masonboro Island and near Rich’s Inlet. They are taking Rapala Skitterwalks and weedless soft plastics.
Nearshore, anglers have been reporting some of the best red drum action in recent memory, with most fish ranging from 25-35″ (with some as large as 50+”). Nearshore wrecks, live bottoms, and the inlets from Fort Fisher to Figure 8 Island have all been producing, mainly on live and cut baits fished on Carolina rigs and large circle hooks.
Tarpon are being encountered from the mouth of the Cape Fear up to Topsail.
Spanish mackerel fishing has been decent despite the dirty water, with most of the action coming from 40′ of water.
Offshore, king mackerel fishing has been good in the 8-20 mile range. Anglers trolling dead cigar minnows and live baits are also reporting some gaffer dolphin. Fishing bait balls around structure has been the key to finding the offshore fish.
Those fishing the bottom are finding gag grouper, grunts, and sea bass on natural ledges in 90′ of water. The red and scamp grouper fishing has been red hot in the 40 mile range, with some fish reported over 20 lbs. Dead cigar minnows has been the most productive, along with live baits and decoy jigs. Triggerfish and beeliners have been biting well, taking squid in 110’-120′ of water.
In the Gulf Stream, a few dolphin and sailfish have been reported, along with smaller blackfins. The wahoo fishing will pick up with the next moon cycle in August.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that nearshore the spanish mackerel and false albacore are readily taking trolled lures. King mackerel can be found consistently in the 5-20 mile range while trolling live or dead baits on stinger rigs.
Bottom fishing has been good from 85-110’ for gag grouper, grunts, pinkies, and sea bass. Deeper water (120-250’) has been excellent for reds, scamps, gags, triggerfish, beeliners, and pinkies. These fish are taking jigs, squid, and live cigar minnows.
Trevor, of ProFishNC, reports that red drum fishing has picked up significantly now that the mullet migration is in full swing.
The nearshore bottom fishing is excellent, with large gray trout and flounder being caught within 3 miles. Both are being landed on diamond jigs and live mullet.
Spanish mackerel are being caught on Clarkspoons fished behind #1 or #2 planers, and king mackerel are taking cigar minnows.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that red drum are biting well throughout the area and can be caught on live baits (such as finger mullet and menhaden), cut or dead baits, and artificial lures (such as the Rapala Skitterwalks and the Z-Man PaddlerZ).
Flounder are being caught from the inshore creeks, the inlets, and the nearshore wrecks.
Some speckled trout are taking an interest in topwater plugs early in the morning or late in the evening.
Spanish and false albacore fishing has been good off the beaches. Trolling spoons behind planers or casting Blue Water Candy jigs has been producing most of the fish.
A few cobia are still around, and anglers should be on the lookout for tarpon.
Warren, of Johnnie Mercers Pier, reports that anglers are connecting with black drum in the surf during the early hours of the morning. Carolina rigs tipped with shrimp cast behind the last breaker is producing the most fish.
Most anglers targeting flounder and redfish are having to wade through sharks and pinfish in hopes of hooking a keeper. With the increasing quantity of bait in the water, though, the desired species are soon to be back in numbers around the pier.
Tarpon have been reported rolling on the surface around the pier.