Ocean Isle – June 21, 2018
Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that fishing live bait is the way to go right now. Finger mullet and shrimp are both big enough to be able to catch with a cast net, and having them in the boat has made the difference when it comes to finding the bigger fish.
Flounder are readily taking the finger mullet, and though a lot of the fish have been small, some keepers are definitely out there. White curly-tailed Gulps on red jig heads serve as a great backup if for whatever reason you don’t have time or can’t find the mullet.
Speckled trout season opened with a bang thanks to the arrival of live shrimp. Angler limits are being met quickly, and the fish caught have been a nice size.
The red drum in the creeks right now are big, with a lot of 28-30” fish coming in that make for a fun fight even if they can’t be kept. A lot of 20” red drum are being caught as well. Menhaden and mud minnows serve as great live bait choices for the reds.
A strong black drum bite can be attributed to the live shrimp, so always have some ready.
Brant, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that Gulf Stream fishing has been very slow. The best chances of a line pull will come from scattered mahi and billfish.
Bottom fishing has been steady. The best place to start is in 90-120’ of water looking for snapper and grouper on cut bait.
King fishing has been strong these past two weeks, with most of the fish coming from 50-80’ of water. Trolling dead cigar minnows is as effective as anything else right now.
Closer in, the spanish have been actively feeding in 20-30’ of water, although lately there has been an influx of sargassum weed which has been making trolling tough.
Kevin, of Rigged and Ready Charters, reports that kings in the 15 lb. range are being caught around the Shark Hole and the Jungle. Slow trolling dead cigar minnows is sure to get a bite.
Cobia are thick, and they can be easily caught on live menhaden when you find a school of baitfish.
There have been a plethora of spadefish around the nearshore ARs, where chumming heavy and using a small spinning rod to drop Native Salt Clams on 25 lb. fluorocarbon leader will get a bite.
Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that 14-17” flounder are being caught, with a few bigger fish mixed in as well. They’re hitting live mud minnows on Carolina rigs.
Black drum have been steadily biting live shrimp on Carolina rigs. Most of the fish have been 18-22”.
Trout have been biting live shrimp under a cork. The specks have been around oyster rocks and range in size from 15-20”.
The redfish (between 20-23”) bite has been steady on crabs and live pogies in creek mouths and around docks.
Lots of king mackerel in the 10-15 lb. range have been caught on dead cigar minnows and live pogies around live bottom areas in 65-90’ of water.
Cobia are still around but in fewer numbers. Most of them are in the 30-40 lb. range, with some being bigger and some smaller. They’ve been caught around wrecks with live pogies and on bucktails.
Bottom fishing has been productive in 100-150’ of water with live pinfish and squid. Beeliners, grouper, and snapper have all been in the mix, too.
Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that bait is more plentiful in the creeks, and so the bite is turning on. Flounder between 15-19” have been hitting consistently just about every day on both live bait and jigs. Mud minnows on 1/4 oz. jig heads fished on the bottom in deeper sections of the creeks have been the most effective, though creek mouths with moving water on the changing tide have been holding fish as well.
There are plenty of 20-25” red drum (and a lot of over-slot redfish, too) that have been feeding on low tide. Most of the catch has been just after a dead low tide in very shallow water around oyster bars with live finger mullet, Z-Man PaddletailZ in the Houdini color, and Gulp shrimp in the new penny color. Live bait on Carolina rigs with a very light weight has been the best choice.
Live shrimp on the bottom in shallow creek holes along the NC/SC line has produced plenty of keeper black drum.
A few smaller (14-18”) trout can be caught early in the morning on Vudu shrimp under a popping cork or live shrimp under a float cork. Both of these should be fished along the shell banks and deeper creeks closer to the inlets.
Just off the beach, Gulp-tipped bucktails have caught flounder ranging from 16-20”, with the bigger fish coming from the ledges.
Stewart, of Rod and Reel Shop, reports that not much has changed over the last few weeks, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everything is biting on the inshore side of things, and you can find all of the typical summer species—flounder, red drum, black drum, trout, and more—without too much trouble.
The water off the beach has cleaned up a little bit, and spanish are just about everywhere. Kings are also ridiculously close to shore, though the fish aren’t very big. The cleaner the water, the better chance you have of finding a fish.
David, of Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier, reports a few speckled trout here and there on live shrimp. They’re also seeing some black drum and a few spots and whiting.