Ocean Isle/Holden Beach – December 13, 2018
David Keith, of Cameron, NC, with a slot red drum that hit a mullet head near Holden Beach.Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that the reds are moving up on the flats, and speckled trout fishing has been hot over the last month, with numbers of juvenile fish unlike anything the area has ever seen. Vudu shrimp under popping corks are accounting for most of the bites.
Provided the water doesn’t get as freezing cold as it did last year, the trout bite should stay turned on throughout the winter months, providing anglers with plenty of action all the way through to March.
Brant, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that December is bluefin tuna month, as the fish will be in the area and the season is open. From Morehead to Southport, there will be bluefins holding around the bait/birds in the 52-60 degree water temperature range.
Wahoo fishing is typically strong through the winter as well, especially when warm water pushes across the 30 fathom edge.
Winter is the best time for black sea bass, which get bigger and come closer to shore in the cooler months. You can find the best bite in the 60-80’ range.
Tyler, of Rigged and Ready Bait and Tackle, reports that speckled trout have been on fire, with anglers catching them on a myriad of soft plastics and hard plastic MirrOlures.
The king mackerel have been around, with most of them swimming near Frying Pan Tower. Drone spoons and cigar minnows have accounted for the most bites.
In the coming months, expect the speckled trout to keep biting on the same baits, and when it comes to offshore fishing, you can look forward to a fantastic bluefin season starting in December.
Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that the speckled trout bite is still very steady on live shrimp, MirrOlures, and grubs. Current rips, oyster rocks, and rock walls have all been effective places to fish. Reds are being sightfished, but the majority of them have only been in the 15-19” range.
Over the next few months, look for the redfish to move into shallower creeks and be more willing to bite artificials retrieved very slowly. The warmer winter days will be the better days to fish.
The speckled trout should remain steady through January, but they will likely start to slow down come February.
The king mackerel bite has been steady in the 80’ range when using cigar minnows. Wahoo are starting to show along Gulf Stream temperature breaks up and down the coast. These fish are caught using high speed lures and trolled ballyhoo. The wahoo bite should improve through Christmas and stay steady as long as temperatures allow.
Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that speckled trout fishing has been really good, with better fish coming in more often in the past few weeks. Anglers will still have to wade through plenty of undersized fish, but 18-24” trout are becoming much more prevalent.
The rising tide has been the key for finding the biggest specks, where the deeper water grass banks nearest the inlets are holding the biggest fish. Live shrimp, when available, under a float cork rig is the go-to bait for the 3-4 lb. fish, but soft plastics are producing as well. Z-Man Trout Tricks and JerkshadZ on 1/8 oz. jig heads have been working the best, especially in purple, electric chicken, and darker colors with chartreuse tails.
Redfish are starting to school up much tighter with the water cooling down, especially on low tide. There have been plenty of fish around, but most of them are in the 17-20” range. Muddy banks and shell banks are holding the most fish.
Deep bends in creeks and holes around dock structure are holding black drum, which have been caught on fresh dead shrimp.
The months ahead should stay productive as long as there isn’t a week or two straight of below-freezing weather. The fish will more than likely be in their winter patterns. The trout will start to push back into the rivers, and the reds will be in the shallowest water around.
The go-to winter bait is Gulp shrimp on a 1/8 oz. jig fished low and slow. Docks along the ICW and in the causeways along the islands will hold fish throughout the winter. Black drum and the occasional trout will hold on the shell banks during the winter as well.
Cecil, of Rod and Reel Shop, reports that trout fishing has been awesome, with plenty of fish (some up to 4.5 lbs.) coming in from area rivers, creeks, and canals. The best bait has been everything from MirrOlures, live shrimp and minnows, and soft plastics in electric chicken color on jig heads. Trout fishing should stay strong throughout the cold winter months.
Red drum, bluefish, and pompano will likely slow down over the next few months, but they will pick back up in March.
Donnie, of Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier, reports that some small trout, black drum, and one 24” red drum has been all that the pier has seen over the last few weeks, in addition to one small run of spots. Almost everything has come in on shrimp.
The pier is now closed, and it will reopen on March 14, 2019.