Fish Post

Topsail Beach – July 19, 2018

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Chris, of East Coast Sports, reports that the red drum bite has been great inshore, especially around area docks and oyster bars. Topwaters (mostly Skitterwalks) have been responsible for a great early morning bite.

Flounder fishing has been decent, with the majority of the fish retreating to deeper holes where the water temperature has been a little bit cooler.

There have been good numbers of black drum in the sound and the surf. Inshore drum are biting alongside sheepshead on structure such as bridges (where fishing at night will get more fish), while the surf drum are hanging very close to the beach. Shrimp is the best bait.

Nearshore spanish are swimming in 30-35’ of water, where standard planer/spoon combos are getting bites on the troll, and Spanish Candies will work when the fish are blowing up on bait.

Big kings have been on the beach as well. Using good-sized live bait will draw strikes from fish up to 35 lbs. Schoolie kings have been between 8-15 miles, where Mac-a-Hoos and dead cigar minnows are great baits to use.

Decent numbers of grouper have been biting in the 10 mile range, where pinfish or big Boston mackerel will put fish in the boat.

Mahi are in the 23-32 mile range. While they’re not picky, small ballyhoo on Mac-a-Hoos and Sea Witches has been the best bait to use.

The Stream is holding decent numbers of blackfins and a few yellowfins, and while the wahoo bite has slowed, a few are still coming in.


Mike, of Native Son, reports that redfish have been hanging out around inshore docks and hard structure. Focus on docks that are holding schools of bait and are slightly out of the current to have a better chance of locating a red. Deeper water is better, too.

Artificials have been getting bites, but live bait is hard to beat this time of year. Hooking a live mullet or small menhaden under a popping cork or on a Carolina rig will find fish if they are in the area.

The water temperature off the beach has warmed considerably, and while recent rains have helped a bit, the water is still very hot and spanish mackerel are moving into deeper waters, with 40-45’ depths seeming to be the sweet spot. This means that #2 planers are necessary.

Kings have been in the 8-10 mile range, where size 3.5 Drone spoons have been good for covering water until a concentration of fish is located. Once you find the kings, switching to cigar minnows or live bait (especially turbo menhaden) and then slowly working the area should produce bites. Make sure you pre-tie a bunch of rigs, though, as sharks have been thick in the same areas that the kings are located.

Michael Nichols caught this dolphin while fishing with cigar minnows about 10 miles offshore of Topsail Beach.

Chadwick, of South End Anglers, reports that upper-slot reds are hanging around creek and waterway points, docks, oysters, and shallow bays. Both live and cut bait have been drawing strikes, with topwater plugs working even better early in the day. Fathom popping corks and belly blade jigs have been helping to put fish in the boat as well.

Some nice speckled trout, though rare, have been hungry for Rapala Skitterwalks in the early mornings, and flounder (mostly small) are taking live mullet and peanut pogies. You can find the flatties around creek mouths, docks, inlets, and on nearshore ledges and ARs.

Spanish fishing has been slow, but the king bite has been decent between 6-20 miles. Live menhaden, dead cigar minnows, and plugs have all been working for the mackerel.

On the bottom, grunts, sea bass, amberjacks, and triggers are all biting, and there are still a good number of cobia around as well. Live bait and Z-Man HeroZ are both generating hits.


Ray, of Spring Tide Guide Service, reports that the inshore red drum bite is hard to beat right now, with most of the fish (anywhere from 17-34”) coming from the marshes behind the inlets. The topwater bite has really turned on, with white Skitterwalk SW11s getting the most strikes. When using bait, big chunks of cut menhaden are necessary, as pinfish will eat smaller pieces before the drum can find them.

A few flounder (as big as 21”) have been biting, and there are more of them showing up every day. A lot have come in when targeting reds, and giant turbo pogie heads Carolina-rigged have been responsible for those strikes.

Spanish have been pushed out to about 45-50’ of water due to the recent rain, but they should come back in soon.


Marc, of Bad Habit Sportfishing, reports that fish are sticking to their usual summer patterns, with king mackerel fishing being the most consistent action. The school-sized kings (and some 20-30 lbers) are biting in 50-70’ of water, where some citation spanish have also been mixed in. Ballyhoo and cigar minnows continue to be the best baits.

The 5-10 mile range has been holding plenty of mahi and sailfish, both of which have been going for live menhaden.

Jacks and barracudas have been eager to fight, but bottom fishing has overall been slow, particularly because of the overabundance of sharks stealing bait.


Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that the spanish mackerel bite has been hit or miss lately, but if you can find the fish, they have been big.

King mackerel have been biting in the 7-15 mile range, with a few mahi mixed in.

Bottom fishing has been great in the 15-30 mile range, with grouper, sea bass, and snapper all happily taking baits.


Tyler, of Seaview Fishing Pier, reports that there have been a lot of keeper black drum, bluefish, and spanish mackerel caught off bloodworms, shrimp, and cut mullet. The drum have been mostly biting at night, while the blues and spanish start chewing from early morning until about noon, and that’s when the bite slows down until around 6:00 pm.


Vinita, of Surf City Pier, reports that a lot of black drum, spot, and mullet are being caught off the pier, with a couple of kings and tarpon mixed in. The kings are coming in on live bait, while sand fleas and bloodworms are getting most of the bottom bite.


Nick, of Jolly Roger Pier, reports that croakers, mullet, small bluefish, big black drum (up to 28”), some over-slot red drum, jack crevalles, some abnormally small whiting, and a couple of tarpon (37 and 52 lbs.) have been caught in the last few weeks. The croakers and drum are chewing on mullet, sand fleas, and live shrimp, while the blues are falling for plugs. The jack crevalle that have been landed aren’t picky and will hit live or cut bait. Early morning and late afternoon/evening have served as the best times to fish.