Morehead City/Atlantic Beach – November 15, 2018
Matt, of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, reports that the flounder bite has been fantastic recently, with fall fish stacking up around the port wall and high-rise bridges before they make their way to the inlets. It’s not hard to catch 5+ lb. fish around these areas, especially when using live minnows, shrimp, or 4” Gulp baits.
Speckled trout fishing has been strong, too, with 50+ fish days more common than not. While the majority of the fish have been small, most anglers are limiting out on keepers. Live shrimp has been working well for bait, but Z-Man soft plastics or MirrOlure MR-17s or 18s are getting the job done as well.
The redfish bite has been on fire over the last few weeks, with fish coming in from just about everywhere. As the weather continues to cool, the reds will be schooling up closer together, so when you find them, they’re pretty easy to catch. Live shrimp, Gulps, and Z-Man plastics are all drawing strikes.
In the surf, the best action over the last week or so has been speckled trout at the Radio Island Beach access. MirrOlures, Z-Man plastics, old-school curly tails, DOA paddletails, and live shrimp on slip float rigs will all fool the specks in the surf. Sea mullet, pompano, spots, puffers, red drum, black drum, and bluefish are also all biting, with mullet, Fishbites, and bloodworms all producing.
False albacore fishing has slowed down, but there are still plenty of bluefish to be caught just off the beaches. The king mackerel bite has been as good as it’s going to get this year, but the weather has been making trips out of the inlets hard. If you can make it out, though, it’s worth it. Cigar minnows, Mac-a-Hoos, and Pirate Plugs will all do damage.
Gulf Stream fishing has also been difficult, but there are plenty of wahoo and grouper out there, and bluefin tuna are already starting to show up for the season.
Paul, of Freeman’s Bait & Tackle, reports that both under-slot and slot-sized red drum have been schooling up in the marshes, and the speckled trout bite is on as well. Gulp and Z-Man soft plastics have been the top producing baits for both species.
In the surf, the wind and cold has kept a lot of anglers at bay, but there are big red drum, a few flounder, plenty of bluefish, and the occasional spanish mackerel to be caught in the suds (and just past the breakers). With that being said, most of the fish have been small.
The ocean has been rough, but that hasn’t stopped boats from finding plenty of false albacore just off the beach, where flies and light tackle are doing the most damage.
Unfortunately, not many boats have been able to make it past the nearshore waters, so offshore reports are slim.
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that a lot of small specks are swimming in the backwater creeks and on channel points, with a few keepers mixed in with the shorts. Live shrimp and soft plastics are both working well. You also have a good chance of finding a red or black drum in the same places the trout are hanging out.
Kings are chewing live bait in the 55-120’ depths on the east side of Cape Lookout, while gag grouper can be found between 65-80’ on both the east side and further south. Dead baits and live pinfish are both working well for the gags.
Dave, of Cape Lookout Charters, reports that the inshore trout and red drum bite is on fire, with both grubs and MirrOlures (especially MR-17s and 52Ms) doing a number on the specks. Topwater baits are working for the bigger fish.
Black drum and sheepshead have both been plentiful, especially under the Atlantic Beach Bridge. Beaufort and Barden’s inlets are producing croakers, sea mullet, and bluefish.
False albacore fishing is picking up, and the winds this week should help in clearing up the water.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that speckled trout are thick, but most of the fish have been sub-legal spikes. Keeper trout are mixed in, so keep grinding and don’t be afraid to move around in search of new opportunities. In tidal areas, concentrate on deeper holes in the marsh that create feeding zones, as well as structure such as bridges, jetties, and sea walls. You can maximize your opportunity by fishing periods of moving water. Use MR-17s, soft plastics on 1/8-1/2 oz. jig heads, and shrimp (either live or artificial) to hook up.
Redfish are on the move in the marshes and around inshore structure, including docks, jetties, and bridges. Both live bait and jigs appropriately weighted for depth and current should get the job done. As a bonus, flounder occupy many of these same habitats and will fall for the same presentations.
False albacore are thick off the beach and eager to eat a well-placed fly, casting jig, or minnow-imitating plug. The best way to catch the albies is to approach breaking schools at idle using the wind in your favor to get within casting distance, and if the school sounds, just keep working the area and wait for them to come back up.
Look for keeper flounder, sea bass, and grouper on both artificial and natural bottom in 50-60’ of water, where jigging tipped bucktails and live bait will produce bites from all three species.
These same areas, especially ones with water temps in the mid-upper 60s, will be holding kings that will fall for trolled dead bait, spoons, and plugs, though live bait will attract bigger fish.
Tom, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that wahoo, blackfin tuna, and kings are all biting medium ballyhoo near the Big Rock. The action is good, but there’s not much going on anywhere else.
Jack, of Oceanana Pier, reports that spanish mackerel and blues have been coming in, as well as croaker, pigfish, black drum, slot and over-slot red drum, and some spots (though the spot bite has been erratic). The best time to fish has been on a peak high tide, especially if it occurs in the early morning. Shrimp, squid, and plugs are all getting bites.