Morehead City/Atlantic Beach – July 5, 2018
Matt, of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, reports that the redfish bite has definitely been improving, with some anglers pulling in up to 30 fish per trip. The Newport River marshes, Core Creek, and Carrot Island have all been holding fish, where the best place to search is in shallow water around oyster bars or grass beds. Gulps, Redfish Magics, topwater plugs, popping corks, live mud minnows, and dead mullet are all working on the reds.
Core Creek is also holding speckled trout in deep water, and the speck bite is starting to pick up in the Neuse. Fish over 5 lbs. have been coming in, so some nice trout are out there.
The sheepshead bite is getting better by the day, with fish over 10 lbs. coming in from the high-rise bridges, port wall, and docks along the ICW. Live fiddler crabs are the go-to bait as per usual, but the artificial Coco Crab has been pulling in fish as well. Live sea urchins have also been tempting big fish.
Don’t be surprised if you find a flounder or two around the high-rise bridges or the Port area. Live mud minnows or dead finger mullet have been landing most of the flatfish.
In the suds, bluefish, croakers, black drum, pompano, and sharks (in addition to the occasional redfish or flounder) are all biting. Bottom rigs with bait shrimp, squid, or bloodworms are hard to beat, though mullet rigs will also work.
The best flatfish bite in the area can be found on nearshore ARs, where jigging 2 oz. bucktails tipped with 4” Gulp shrimp will get attention.
The spanish bite is still hot, and anglers are easily limiting out from along Atlantic Beach to the Beaufort Inlet, as well as the Cape area and many nearshore ARs. The fish aren’t just plentiful; they’re also big, as many anglers have caught nothing but 4+ lb. fish in a day. When trolling, you can never go wrong with a Clarkspoon, Bowed Up spoon, or mackerel tree on a #1 planer, but a Mackahoo rigged with a live cigar minnow will attract bigger fish. Pulling a Spanish Buster on the surface has also made the difference at times. When casting, glass minnow jigs have been landing fish, while Spanish Candy lures will get the job done as well.
Dolphin are biting closer to the beach, with the 14 Buoy to the 90’ Drop holding the most fish. The Swansboro Hole and the Rise have also been productive, while some nice mahi are coming as close as AR-330. Monkalurs are great for dolphin, and trolling small-medium ballyhoo behind Sea Witches (blue/white or pink) has been hard to beat. Wahoo are still coming in as well, though the bite has slowed.
On the bottom, 100’ of water on the east side of Cape Lookout has been holding grouper, triggers, snappers, sea bass, and amberjacks. The 1700 Rock and Atlas Tanker have also been good spots to target.
Cody, of Freeman’s Bait & Tackle, reports that inshore fishing has been great, with a lot of sheepshead and black drum biting in the ICW. Fiddler crabs are the go-to bait, but live shrimp has been working as well, especially if you want a shot at a trout or flounder at the same time.
Red drum fishing has been great in marsh areas with good oyster points, up on extensive shallow water and mud flats, and under docks in the ICW.
Speckled trout fishing has been productive, especially in the first 30 minutes of daylight. Using topwaters along shelly bottoms should produce bites.
Nearshore reefs have been holding flounder, where live mullet or pogies on a Carolina rig will get bites. Spanish, kings, and mahi have also been strong nearshore on live bait.
Tarpon are popping up along the beach from Bogue Inlet up to the point of the Cape. Ladyfish have been biting live shrimp after dark, and spadefish can still be found around nearshore wrecks.
Surf fishing with shrimp has produced sea mullet, black drum, croakers, and a few pompano, while live bait, spoons, and soft plastics have brought in a few reds, flounder, spanish, and blues.
Offshore waters are providing mahi, a few nice wahoo, some blackfin, and a handful of white marlin to anglers trolling ballyhoo. Don’t be surprised to hook a blue marlin as well.
Bottom fishing right now is all about grouper.
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that the ICW and surrounding marshes are holding plenty of red drum. Both live and cut bait are working well, as are Gulps and gold spoons.
Nearshore, plenty of spanish and king mackerel are biting spoons and live bait (with cigar minnows working the best). ARs and inlets are the best place to look for the mackerel.
Bottom fishing has remained steady when targeting gag grouper, triggers, vermilions, and black sea bass. The biggest and best fish are hanging between 85-130’ of water, especially around the south and east sides of the shoals.
Dave, of Cape Lookout Charters, reports that red drum between 25-35” are biting in the marshes and some black drum and sheepshead can be found under area bridges, where fiddler crabs should entice a bite.
There are plenty of bluefish, spanish, and small kings to be caught nearshore, where Gotcha plugs and trolled Clarkspoons are consistently fooling fish.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that slot-sized reds are hanging out under docks along the ICW and all through the marshes. You can target them with cut bait, spinnerbaits, gold spoons, and jigs.
Flounder are prevalent on all the nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs. To catch them, send down Carolina rigs with live bait, or use 1-3 oz. bucktails tipped with pearl Gulp shrimp or a Z-Man jerk shad.
Schoolie kings from 5-15 lbs. are all around the ARs, live bottoms, and ledge areas inside of 60’. Using cigar minnows on dead bait rigs and duster skirts will produce fish, but live menhaden have been effective as well.
Tom, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that the waters around the Big Rock area are holding plenty of dolphin, especially between 30-50 fathoms. Medium ballyhoo continue to be the best bait for the mahi, and they’re also working wonders on the blackfin tuna that are hanging in the 40 fathom range.
Wayne, of Oceanana Pier, reports that anglers have been finding spanish in the early morning until 10:00, and then the fish stop biting until about 7:00 pm. Bluefish have been scattered, and while a lot of croakers have been caught, they’re very small.