Swansboro/Emerald Isle – December 13, 2018
Shawna, of The Reel Outdoors, reports that fishing has been slow the past few weeks, but some small trout, black drum, and a few scattered red drum have all come in. There’s also been a good whiting bite as well. These fish are coming from both inshore waters and the surf, where MirrOlures and grubs are working for the trout, and cut mullet and shrimp have been producing bites from the other species.
For the next few months, anglers can expect the drum bite to be the most consistent action inshore, while bluefin tuna will be biting offshore, where ballyhoo will serve as the best bait.
Dale, of Dudley’s Marina, reports that there a lot of little trout around, most of which are being caught on soft plastics (though they aren’t picky). The bite will continue all through the winter as long as the weather doesn’t get as cold as it was last year.
Reds are also falling for soft plastics in the backwaters, though they have mostly moved to the beaches around Bear Island and Emerald Isle. Cut mullet will be the best tactic for these ocean reds. Expect them to school up and move back inside soon, though, to start chewing on Gulp shrimp and fresh frozen mullet.
A few flounder have been caught in the surf, mostly on Gulp shrimp.
The bluefin tuna bite is starting to pick up.
Bottom fishing for black sea bass, triggerfish, and ringtails has been productive in the 15-25 mile range, while beeliners and grouper are biting between 35-40 miles.
Wahoo are around in the Gulf Stream.
Jerry, of Pogie’s Fishing Center, reports that the trout bite is on fire in the creeks around the Swansboro area, with keepers to the occasional citation-size fish all coming in. Live shrimp on a slip cork is still the easiest way to get the specks to bite, but they will also fall for soft plastics such as Storm shrimp and Halo shad.
A lot of the bigger red drum have started to migrate to the surf, but there are still quite a few lower-slot and some upper-slot fish cruising the flats. Use mullet on a Carolina rig or a soft plastic (such as a Gulp bait), and fish with a very slow retrieve to get a bite. Black drum are also being caught, and the nest bait is dead or live shrimp.
As the winter wears on, more reds will be stacking up in the surf, where working a Gulp shrimp slowly should grab their attention. The trout bite will likely remain strong in the creeks, and you can expect to see the specks move pretty far back as the water gets cooler. Nice groups of lower-slot reds should be on the marsh flats during the winter as well.
Rob, of Sandbar Safari Charters, reports that trout are on the move into the creeks and rivers, and they will be in those areas throughout the winter. The less rainfall, the further up they will go. Suspending baits like Storm shrimp and MirrOlures are great artificials, while live mud minnows or peanut shad will produce when fished on a slip cork just off the bottom.
Some red and black drum will be around structure in these same areas. The reds will take small, scented soft plastics worked slow, and cut shrimp on a Carolina rig works well for both species of drum. There are schools of larger reds in the surf, and they can be tempted with cut bait or scented plastics.
Some of the schools will retreat to the warm mudflats in the backwaters as winter rolls along. Sneaking up to the fish and crawling a small Gulp bait by them is a great way to connect.
Johnathan, of On Point Charters, reports that the speckled trout are making their way into the mainland creeks of the big rivers, where they will stay for the winter. They are eating soft plastics on very light jig heads, Storm shrimp, and MR-18s.
The redfish are schooled up in the surf around the inlet, where they’re chewing on cut mullet on bottom rigs and scented soft plastics on heavy jig heads. Those big schools should be getting ready to start breaking up and pushing to the inshore flats once the water cools off and the bait disappears from the surf.
Keeper-sized black sea bass are holding on almost every bit of structure from the beach out to 15 miles, where they’re eating Gulp-tipped bucktails and cut menhaden or cigar minnows on bottom rigs.
Bobby, of Teezher Charters, reports that fishing has been decent in the surf zone, with some speckled trout, black drum, flounder, and pompano all coming in.
Kings have been holding on the east side of Cape Lookout. There are plenty of big ones to be caught, with anything from teenagers to 50 lb. fish coming in.
Plenty of false albacore are biting along the reefs, and respectable catches of grouper and black sea bass are being made. The 125-130’ range is also holding plenty of grouper and black sea bass, in addition to quite a few triggerfish.
The wahoo bite has been great when the weather allows, with the possibility of finding 12-15 fish a day keeping anglers excited. There have also been plenty of sailfish around, with boats catching 3-6 sails a day and seeing even more than that. In addition, there are scattered blackfins and even the occasional small dolphin around.
Bluefin tuna are being caught out of Beaufort Inlet, and while there hasn’t been any massive fish coming in yet, a lot of small keepers are coming over the rails.
Over the next few months, expect the bluefin and bottom bite to stay hot. Wahoo will always be around as well, if you can make it out to the break on a pretty day.
The Bogue Inlet Pier is closed for repairs and will reopen on March 15, 2019.