Swansboro – March 22, 2018
Jerry, of The Reel Outdoors, reports that fishing has been slow in the area due to cold waters and poor weather. The fact that the water temperatures have been hanging in the mid to low 50s is keeping many fish at bay, and rough waters combined with heavy winds have been making trips uncomfortable.
Despite the slow start to the season, though, anglers who are braving the elements are finding a decent trout and redfish presence back in the mainland creeks. Zoom and Gulp baits are bringing in the majority of the catch, but any soft plastic should put anglers on some fish (if you can find them).
The reds are also biting in the surf, and those same soft plastics are doing the majority of the damage on the beach.
As the water temperature hopefully rises over the next few weeks, expect to see the arrival of some spanish mackerel and bluefish. Action will start to pick up soon, but in the meantime expect to play the waiting game before getting into the better part of the season.
Matt, of Pogie’s Fishing Center, reports that plenty of red drum are schooled up behind Bear Island and are being caught on Zoom, Gulp, and Z-Man soft plastics. If you can get out on a warm day, topwater fishing has also been successful.
The mainland creeks that are holding fish are producing mostly reds as well, with the occasional black drum mixed in. Cut bait on mini Carolina rigs held down with light weights and small hooks are working, but mud minnows are the bait of choice if you can find them.
Speckled trout are out there, but they’re not readily biting. Fishing Zoom Golden Brooms on the White Oak River is currently the best way to find the trout. Flounder fishing is picking up, with a few being caught in the same places you’ll find red drum.
The reds are also biting in the surf. Expect other species to start biting soon in the suds, but for now, the name of the game is redfish.
Rob, of Sandbar Safari Charters, reports that plenty of redfish are schooled up in the marshes behind the barrier islands, as well as in the backs of inland creeks. Depending on the situation, soft plastics, live mud minnows, small spinner baits, and cut baits can all produce bites.
Some black drum and speckled trout are also mixed in, with small, suspended baits worked slowly seeming to be the ticket for the latter.
Nearshore reefs are holding sea bass, gray trout, and bluefish. Vertical jigging 1 oz. Stingsilvers on light tackle is the way to go when targeting these nearshore species.
Johnathan, of On Point Charters, reports that red drum are schooled up behind the barrier islands around Bogue Inlet. They’re biting Fathom rat tail baits on 1/8 oz. Fathom jig heads, as well as cut mullet on Carolina rigs. The same baits can also land a few trout or flounder in the same areas.
Sea bass have been happily taking squid on bottom rigs in the 10-15 mile range, so fans of bottom fishing can easily take advantage of the bite.
The Neuse River has been producing striper and trout.
Bobby, of Teezher Charters, reports that if you can catch a break in March’s rough weather, there are plenty of wahoo to be found in the 40 fathom range. Fast trolling any size ballyhoo has been the ticket.
Blackfins are hanging out in the same range, though they’re biting in lesser numbers. To target the blackfins, scale down your setup and use smaller ballyhoo, or go with lures from Sea Vixen or Green Machine.
Bottom fishing has been good for sea bass, and when grouper season hits, expect the bite to be strong.
Herman, of Bogue Inlet Pier, reports that in the first two weeks that the pier has been open, anglers have been pulling in plenty of puffers and dogfish, as well as a few stingrays and skates. In the coming weeks, expect more abundant puffers to show up, as well as some sea mullet (depending on the weather).
The water temperature is in the low 50s and the pier saw a small snow storm last week, so the conditions haven’t been ideal for the species that prefer warmer water. Don’t count on seeing a decent bluefish or spanish bite until the water temperature gets to about 65 degrees.