Morehead City – April 12, 2018
Matt, of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, reports that Cape Lookout shoals has been seeing good red drum action, with 20+ fish days being common in the clear water around Shark Island. Gulps and live mud minnows are pulling in the reds, which are also hanging in the shallow flats in backwater bays.
Both bluefish and false albacore can be found around 8 miles out, with the latter also schooling in the 2-3 mile range (a strong southwest wind should bring the fish even closer). Glass minnow jigs are pulling in both species.
Sea bass are hanging in the 8 mile range as well, with the best action coming from the east side of Cape Lookout on the nearshore reefs and hard bottom areas. Old drum are also being caught off Cape Lookout in deep water, where Spro bucktails are doing the trick.
Sea mullet fishing is picking up and will only get better as water temperatures continue to rise. The best way to get a bite is with Gitters spec rigs tipped with bait shrimp.
Sheepshead and black drum are coming in from around the Beaufort high-rise bridge and rail road tracks, where a handful of flounder have been caught as well. Fishing bait shrimp or live minnows on the bottom is the ticket.
Offshore, bad weather has made for limited fishing opportunities, but anglers who can make it out are enjoying a good wahoo and blackfin bite, and even a few yellowfin are starting to show up. Most of the fish have been from the Rise down south toward the Swansboro Hole, and the Big Rock is also holding a fish or two.
Bottom fishing has been productive in the 30-40 mile range around the 90’ Drop. Beeliners, triggers, snappers, and plenty of nice sea bass are coming in, with some snapper and sea bass also hanging around nearshore ledges.
Paul, of Freeman’s Bait & Tackle, reports that while fishing has been slow overall, some specks are being caught and released in the small inland creeks.
Off the beach and piers, sea mullet and blues are starting to show up in better numbers, though stingrays and sharks are making up the majority of the catch.
Some drum are being found around Shark Island, and big chopper blues have been seen in about 90’ of water. Once the temperature rises above 60, they should be moving closer to the beach.
Wahoo, blackfins, and yellowfins are being caught toward the south around the 150-200 line.
The biggest offshore hauls are coming from anglers targeting black sea bass, especially around the Big 10-Little 10, and some of the wrecks just to the west of the cape. Grunts and ringtail porgies can be found in the same areas. Squid on standard bottom rigs (such as two or three drop rigs) are doing the most damage to all of the bottom-dwelling species.
The east side of the cape has been difficult to fish due to a lot of the shoal cut-throughs being shoaled in over the winter, so most of the action remains to the west and northwest.
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that sea bass and blues are biting in 55-75’ of water, particularly on wrecks and hard bottom. Beaufort Inlet is holding the same species, where false albacore are beginning to show up as well. Jigging bucktails and cut bait has been working the best for these fish.
Redfish are biting around shoals and various inshore areas, where Gulp baits on jig heads are getting the most bites.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that speckled trout are biting in the marsh, and they’re mostly hitting MR17s and Yo-Zuri 3DS plugs. The red drum are hanging around ICW docks, where a Carolina rig with cut mullet should get instant results (though jigs will work as well).
The first sea mullet of the season are showing up around the piers, in the surf, and off the beach, where high-low rigs and spec rigs tipped with shrimp or Fishbites are doing the most damage. Expect croakers, some spot, and gray trout to start entering the mix. The grays will go for jigging spoons around structure.
Nearshore water in the 60-70’ depths are holding keeper black sea bass and flounder (if you can handle the weather). Tipped bucktails will attract both species, but the sea bass are particularly fond of squid on high-low rigs, which can also fool porgies and the occasional tautog.
Offshore, blackfins are making a strong showing, with some yellowfins in the mix as well. Ballyhoo, Green Machines, and cedar plugs will work for both types of tuna.
Dave, of Cape Lookout Charters, reports that both redfish and trout are biting in the Newport and North River marshes. Fresh cut mullet (plenty of which can be found in the creeks) are the best bait.
Black drum and sheepshead can be found around area bridges and are happily biting sand fleas. Bluefish, blow toads, and sea mullet are hanging in both Beaufort and Barden’s inlets. Target them (the blues especially) with 1/2 oz. Silverspoons or 1/4 oz. spec rigs.
The Cape Lookout rock jetty is producing bluefish, gray trout, and black drum. Big red drum are around the Cape Lookout shoals (to the east in particular) and are hitting 2 oz. bucktails.
Tom, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that both blackfin and yellowfin tuna are readily biting in 40 fathoms of water around the Big Rock. Medium ballyhoo are doing the trick, which will also work well for the few wahoo that are in the same areas.
When the weather permits, now is also the perfect time to catch a swordfish.
Robin, of the Oceanana Pier, reports that sea mullet are starting to come in strong, with fish as big as 1.3 lbs. being caught off the pier. The occasional bluefish and puffer have also been pulled in.