Southport/Oak Island – October 11, 2018
Angie, of Dutchman Creek Bait and Tackle, reports that the biggest and best action right now has been from the beach and at the point, where surf anglers are finding bull reds, black drum, and some big flounder on the bottom. A few bluefish have been caught here and there, and while king mackerel have been spotty, there are a few swimming out past the suds.
Nearshore and offshore anglers are having to travel out to the 20 mile range just to start finding clean water, so reports have been slim from outside the inlets.
Tim, of Wildlife Bait and Tackle, reports that it doesn’t matter how dirty the inshore water is, the fish are here, with speckled trout, black drum, slot red drum, bull reds, flounder, and sheepshead all chewing happily. While the waters behind Bald Head Island are admittedly holding fish in small quantities, the closer you get to the mouth of the Cape Fear and Lockwood Folly Inlet, the more fish there are to find.
The over-slot redfish in particular are getting bigger and better by the day, and the action won’t be slowing down anytime soon. You can also expect to start catching spot as the water continues to cool.
The occasional king has been caught right off the beach, though most of them are still being found to the south. The kings should be making their way to the area very soon, and since there are no decent menhaden in the area, live bluefish or dead cigar minnows will be the bait of choice.
Big 5-6 lb. flounder are also coming in just off the beach, though you may have to deal with some sharks while targeting the nearshore flatfish.
A little farther out, African pompano, barracuda, and wahoo have been chewing, while grouper are feeding on the bottom. The water doesn’t start to clear up until the 25 mile range, and once you get there, the bite is turned on.
Mark, of Angry Pelican Charters, reports that bait is nearly impossible to come by. In other words, fishing has been unproductive.
Luke, of Spot On Charters, reports that the Cape Fear River is still way too dirty to do any serious fishing, and the river was seeing constant high tide levels from the storm up until a few short days ago. Conditions don’t improve until you move north in the ICW, where you can literally see the bait barrier in the water. There is nothing but 100% freshwater down until you hit Whiskey Creek.
The good news is that the last time so much water got dumped upriver, the lower Cape Fear provided one of the best shrimp and trout seasons in four generations, and this fall should be no different.
In the meantime, either go north or go offshore if you want to find fish.
Robert, of Reelin’ Pelican Fishing Charters, reports that some flounder and a lot of bull reds are primarily being caught in the nearshore waters, with not a lot of fish (other than the occasional slot red) coming from the typical inshore areas due to all of the freshwater from Hurricane Florence. It will likely be another two weeks before the inshore bite really picks up again, but as of now there is enough redfish action going on outside the inlets for anglers to focus on.
There are a lot of mullet running the beach, and the bull reds can be found in the same area, especially around piers and other structure. They are also chewing at the Hot Hole, though overall the bite has been inconsistent. You can find 25 fish one day and then 2-3 the next.
The water is dirty for about 10-12 miles off the beach, and to find a decent king bite, you need to head south towards Myrtle Beach. The kings should be moving up soon, though, as this is the time of year for them to start showing up off the Southport/Oak Island beaches.
Ryan, of Fugitive Charters, reports that the backwaters are still dirty, so inshore fishing hasn’t been worth the trip over the past few weeks. Bait is just now starting to show up along the beach, but there aren’t a lot of spanish or king mackerel chasing it quite yet.
Most of the king action is down to the south, but they should be moving up to the Southport area within a week or so. The best nearshore bite has undoubtedly been from the redfish, though they’ve been sporadic. One day the action is hot, and the next it’s cold. The Hot Hole has been a great place to find the reds, and on some days you can see sturgeon jumping in the same area.
The offshore bottom has provided the most productive fishing action in the area at the 30-35 mile range. While the grouper are inconsistent, everything else is chewing hard.
Overall, once the water clears up (the dirty water currently extends to about 32 miles), anglers can look forward to fantastic fall fishing.
Steve, of Ocean Crest Pier, reports that since the pier reopened a week after the storm, anglers have been catching red and black drum, flounder, and several trout. Shrimp and cut bait are both producing.