Topsail – May 10, 2018
Chris, of East Coast Sports, reports that speckled trout and red drum are readily biting inshore, especially in the mouths of creeks. A few big chopper blues have been mixed in as well, and topwater fishing is the way to go if you want to target the big blues specifically.
As for surf and pier, expect to primarily find sea mullet and black drum. Shrimp has been the best bait for both. Bluefish can be found on the beach as well, where Gotcha plugs are doing the most damage.
Nearshore, bonito are biting like crazy, especially around Diver’s Rock. Both trolling or casting will find the fish, with either a Big Nic’s or CB Custom jig working as the best lure for the latter. Don’t be surprised to find a few bluefish when targeting the bonito. The faster the troll and/or retrieve, the higher chance you have of landing a bonito, while slow trolling is better for the blues. Spanish are also biting the same baits in the same areas.
The sea bass bite has been strong close to the beach, and grouper season has started well with fish anywhere from 2-25 miles out. Horse ballyhoo and bonita baits are best for the grouper. School kings can be found between 29-34 miles and will move closer to shore as the water continues to warm up. Troll dead bait rigs to find the kings.
Offshore, there are yellowfins, blackfins, and scattered wahoo in the area.
Mike, of Native Son, reports that flounder are starting to bite in the smaller creek mouths and cuts, and the bite will only improve as we roll into summer.
Redfish are hanging around docks and other hard structure (such as oyster bars). The bigger schools are starting to break up into the normal packs that we will see all summer. In the early morning and late evening, throw topwater baits like the MirrOlure Top Pup or She Dog, but use jerk shads and spoons the rest of the day.
Off the beach, bonito fishing is starting to slow down. There have still been decent catches recently, but big spanish mackerel are starting to take over. Both species can be caught by trolling spoons, but setting up upwind of the school and drifting into casting range can be very effective as well.
Chadwick, of South End Anglers, reports that schools of menhaden are moving inshore, in addition to plenty of other baitfish.
Bluefish of all sizes are starting to show up, too. Poppers and Spooks are working on top, as are Texas-rigged Z-Man JerkshadZ and popping corks with cut bait. Make sure to use a 30 lb. seven strand wire leader to keep the big fish on the hook.
Redfish are being caught around docks, near oyster beds, and in inland creeks, as the drum start to form smaller schools and more actively chase bait. They’re taking both live and cut bait, as well as Fathom Inshore jigs, Rapala Skitterwalks, and scented soft plastics.
Sea bass, rings, grunts, grouper, porgies, and flounder are all hanging on the bottom nearshore. Squid baits on chicken rigs, metal jigs, and bucktails are working for the bottom feeders, while frozen minnows are effective for the grouper specifically.
Bonito, false albacore, kings, and bluefish are all biting as well, but the hottest bite right now is 3-5 lb. spanish mackerel. Casting Hogy Epoxy jigs, Blue Water Candy sparkle jigs, and Jig Fish lures will work, as will trolling Yo-Zuri Deep Divers, planers, and spoons.
Ray, of Spring Tide Guide Service, reports that bonito are on the way out and big (rarely less than 20” and as long as 24”) spanish mackerel are arriving in force. Finding a school of bait can put you on a school of bonito, false albacore, and spanish all at the same time. Trolling near the bait with small Gulp baits or Clarkspoons has been effective, but casting to the schools on fly rods or with Diamond or Spanish Candy jigs is an even better way to take advantage of the spanish bite. A smaller leader can make the difference at times, but the main trick is to let the lure sink down below the school and then start pulling it in.
In addition to the spanish, small (but legal) kings are biting Clarkspoons behind big planers as close as 2 miles to shore.
Marc, of Bad Habit Sportfishing, reports that bonito are still biting, but they will be moving on shortly. The spanish and bluefish bite is strong from the beach to a couple of miles out. The spanish are biting Diamond jigs, Stingsilvers, and the like, but they will also hit trolled Yo-Zuri Deep Divers and spoons.
There are some 40 lb. black drum moving north along the beach, too, and they can be caught and released using jigs or cut mullet.
Kings are starting to bite in 70’ on out to the break, where spoons, Yo-Zuri Deep Divers, or ballyhoo will entice a bite.
Grouper opened on May 1, and boat limits are being reached within a single hour of fishing. Snappers, grunts, and sea bass are also readily biting on the bottom, with the jumbo sea bass hanging in 100’ of water.
In the Gulf Stream, wahoo, tuna, and mahi are all being caught. The number of mahi will start to increase while wahoo will begin to decrease over the course of the next month, and billfish should go off at any time.
Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that some nice-sized bonito are still feeding and are responding well to jigs and flies. Some spanish mackerel were mixed in with the bonito, with the average size between 12-16”.
Grouper are biting in the 20 mile range, and plenty of nice sea bass and grunts will be mixed in.
Joe, of Seaview Fishing Pier, reports that pier anglers are catching Virginia mullet on shrimp and bluefish on Gotcha plugs.
Mandy, of Surf City Pier, reports that mullet are running and anglers are catching them with shrimp. Spanish mackerel haven’t made a good show yet, but fishing with Gotcha plugs has produced a few, in addition to some bluefish.
One black and a couple of red drum have also come in, with shrimp and finger mullet doing the trick for both.
Robbie, of Jolly Roger Pier, reports good-sized spanish mackerel coming in on plugs. Bluefish are biting Gotcha plugs in addition to cut bait on the bottom, and Virginia mullet are taking shrimp.