Fish Post

Topsail – May 24, 2018

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Chris, of East Coast Sports, reports that flounder fishing is picking up inshore, with live minnows working the best. There have been decent numbers of red drum at the south inlet, and bluefish are maintaining a strong presence around the area as well.

Sheepshead fishing has picked up significantly around area bridges and docks. Live fiddler crabs are the key to pulling them in.

The southern piers and surf are seeing good numbers of spanish, bluefish, sea mullet, and black drum.

Off the beach, bonito have moved out and spanish mackerel have taken their place. Crystal Minnows are producing on these hard-hitting fish. Cobia are here as well, chasing the schools of menhaden that are running up and down the beach. Big bucktails and live bait are both effective at catching the cobia.

School kings are being caught 13 miles out by anglers trolling dead bait on Mackahoos.

On the bottom, good numbers of black sea bass (with the occasional flounder) are being reported. Squid on two-hook rigs and diamond jigs are both working well. Decent grouper fishing can be found anywhere from 5-30 miles out.

Plenty of mahi are feeding 25 miles out, while wahoo, yellowfins, and blackfins are all biting in the Gulf Stream.


Mike, of Native Son, reports that flounder are slowly moving in and will start biting harder as the bait gets thicker. Redfish are showing up more consistently in the marshes and bays, especially around points and oyster bars. Most of the red drum are being caught out of the current with bait nearby, but at lower tide stages they may be hiding in deeper holes. Weed less jerk shads have been an excellent choice for bait now that the moss is finally thinning out. Those same jerk shads may also find a flounder.

Big spanish mackerel have been readily biting just off the beach in about 35-40’ of water. Trolling Clarkspoons on a #1 or #2 planer has been productive, as is casting diamond jigs on a calm morning.

Kings are showing up a little deeper than the spanish, and they are hitting Drone spoons and big Clarkspoons.


Chadwick, of South End Anglers, reports that red drum are coming in on Rapala Skitterwalks, scented soft plastics on Fathom Inshore jig heads, and both live and cut baits.

Flounder fishing is picking up, with a good mix of keepers coming in from area creek mouths, docks, and inlets. Hook a live mud minnow on a Carolina rig or a Pearl Fathom Squiddly grub on a 3/8 oz. jig head to get the best shot at a flattie.

School-sized blues can be found all throughout the marsh on MirrOlure Poppa Mullets, Rapala Skitterwalks, and Texas-rigged JerkshadZ.

Spanish mackerel can be hooked by casting Hogy Heavy Minnows and Epoxy minnows or trolling #1, 2, or 3 planers with 0 or 00 Clarkspoons. Gold, pink flash, and electric chicken colors are all working well.

School kings are coming in on Rapala Mags, as well as Drone spoons and planers. Slow-trolled Blue Water Candy dead bait rigs with cigar minnows are working exceptionally well anywhere from 4-20 miles.

There is a good bottom mix in the same range, with vermilions, gags, grunts, and sea bass making up the majority of the catch. Frozen minnows and squid baits on chicken rigs, as well as metal jigs, have all been productive. Amberjacks are on nearshore structure, and they’re striking live baits, Z-Man HeroZ, and both Rapala and Yo-Zuri poppers.

The cobia have finally arrived and are hitting Blue Water Candy jigs, Z-Man HeroZ on TT jig heads, and live/dead menhaden and bluefish.


George Papastrat with an Atlantic bonito that attacked a Yo-Zuri Deep Diver near Diver’s Rock. He was fishing aboard the “Pirate Attack” out of Jacksonville.


Ray, of Spring Tide Guide Service, reports that massive schools of red drum are coming in from area inlets and can be found behind Topsail Island. These schools can have anywhere from 100-500 fish in them and make for an awesome sight if you manage to find one.

Unfortunately, the drum have been skittish. A few have been caught on the surface, where Saltwater Assassins with Pro-Cure have been effective, but big Skitterwalks and other bigger topwaters are working the best. The key is to sit tight and wait for the school to come to you, as going up to them can cause them to scatter. Higher tide stages are the best time to fish.

Trout fishing is also productive this time of year when using topwater lures. The next couple of weeks will be a fantastic time to find a speck in the river.

Spanish are still off the beach (if the weather will allow you to get out), and the cobia bite should be getting stronger as soon as more menhaden move into the area.


Marc, of Bad Habit Sportfishing, reports that the nearshore bite has slowed a bit due to the unsettled weather, but spanish and blues are still biting trolled spoons and Yo-Zuri Deep Divers. Expect the bite to improve as soon as the weather does.

Big grouper, snapper, sea bass, and other bottom dwellers are feeding strong from depths of 100’ out to the break, while smaller fish are biting a little closer to shore. Jigs and cut bait are the key for all species. Amberjacks have shown up closer to shore as well, and live bait is working in shallower water while jigs will fool the fish deeper down.

The mahi bite is picking up offshore as the wahoo bite slows down, and billfish should start showing up in force soon. Mahi are readily taking trolled lures like Eye Catcher’s Outlaw Jr. or Supra Dart in front of medium ballyhoo.


Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that the spanish bite along the beach has been strong and consistent, with fish from 14-20” being caught. Trolling 00 Clarkspoons on planers and casting small jigs to breaking fish are both great ways to get a bite.

King mackerel are feeding anywhere from 5-15 miles offshore, where big Clarkspoons or Drone spoons on large planers, as well as Yo-Zuri Deep Divers, are all working well.

Bottom fishing from 5-20 miles has also been productive. Nice sea bass, triggers, and grouper are all falling for cut bait.


Graham, of Seaview Fishing Pier, reports that fishing has been slow overall, with a few mullet and black drum coming in. There was a good run of spanish and bluefish last week, with 10-14” fish being caught on Gotcha plugs.


Vinita, of Surf City Pier, reports that fishing has been a little slow, with the occasional mullet, spot, and black drum coming in on shrimp. Scattered spanish and blues have been biting Gotcha plugs.


Elizabeth, of Jolly Roger Pier, reports that chopper blues are hitting Gotcha plugs and a few mullet and drum have been landed here and there on cut bait.