Wrightsville Beach – April 12, 2018
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that schools of smaller and slot-sized red and black drum have been hanging around docks in the waterway and some of the deeper boat basins. Live mud minnows and cut shrimp have been the most productive baits, though Z-Man and Gulp soft plastics will also work.
Large schools of slot reds are hanging in the marsh and can be fooled with Z-Man jerk shads, Vudu shrimp, or MirrOlures. If the fish are skittish, reel slowly and add Pro-Cure (or try a smaller bait to get a bite).
Big blues are being caught inshore now, as are some quality speckled trout (mainly on soft plastics, shrimp imitations, and MirrOlures).
Bonito are biting here and there, but that will change in the second half of April when the fish start coming through the area in larger numbers. Casting at first light and sunset will be effective, in addition to trolling throughout the day. Get just close enough to cast into the school and retrieve quickly using lures like Gotcha Jigfish and Shore Lures (especially in .75-1.5 oz. sizes). Spanish and kings will start biting around the same time.
Black sea bass are still being caught, but the larger fish are starting to head offshore and can currently be found in the 75+’ range. Then 15-20 miles out, schools of false albacore and small kings are biting. The big kings are being found between 30-40 miles. Trolling cigar minnows or Drone spoons has been the ticket.
Fishing the Stream, the blackfins are still biting strong, and the yellowfins have made a surprisingly strong appearance as well. In addition to taking advantage of the blackfin bite, jigging anglers are also pulling in amberjack and African pompano.
Wahoo and sailfish are jumping on baits, so to make the most out of your trip, troll some mono/fluoro rigs to fool the tuna/bills while dragging wire/cable rigs for the ‘hoos. The majority of the wahoo bite has been inshore of the break in 120-150’ of water.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that both red and black drum are being caught along waterway docks and boat basins, mainly on mud minnows and cut shrimp. The reds are also starting to spread along the flats and bays in the waterway, where scented soft plastics on jig heads are producing the most fish.
The speckled trout bite is decent in waterway creeks, especially when using Vudu and Z-Man shrimp. Topwater action has also been picking up as the water temperature continues to rise, with small Skitter Walks and Yo-Zuri Pencils around deeper current seams working best.
A few schools of chopper-sized bluefish have been reported around boat basins and creeks, which can be targeted with larger topwater plugs. Blues can also be found along the beach, but they’re not in any solid numbers yet.
Bonito are biting to the north, so expect the action to start picking up around Wrightsville soon. Epoxy jigs and Big Nic Spanish Candies will work for the fish on the surface, while Yo-Zuri Deep Divers and larger Clarkspoons should produce if the topwater bite is slow.
A few tautog and sheepshead are still biting shrimp and sand fleas around nearshore ARs, and sea bass are hitting baits and jigs in the 25-30 mile range. King mackerel action is best in the 30-35 mile range, but 23 Mile Rock and Schoolhouse will be holding kings very soon. Trolling cigar minnows and Drone spoons will work the best.
Gulf Stream fishing has been steady, but the wind has been making it hard to take trips out. Wahoo have been the prime target, with many boats reporting double-digit catches of fish as large as 95 lbs. Most of the ‘hoos are coming from the Nipple area on trolled ballyhoo, high-speed lures, and diving plugs.
Perhaps the most encouraging news has been the amount of 30-40 lb. yellowfin tuna caught last week, mainly on wire ballyhoo rigs while fishing for wahoo. The yellowfins (especially around the Same Ole) are hitting Sea Witch/ballyhoo combos on fluorocarbon, along with small lures such as Sea Vixens, cedar plugs, and Green Machines. Several blackfins have been caught in the same areas.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that there are plenty of slot-sized red and black drum in the area, with most of the fish being taken on frozen shrimp.
Speckled trout are also plentiful. When fishing in the morning for the specks, use topwater baits, and then switch to soft plastics around midday.
A few small flounder have been pulled in, with all of them coming in on either Blue Water Candy or Z-Man soft plastics.
Chopper bluefish can be found inshore (as well as smaller, taylor-sized blues).
Trevor, of ProFishNC Charters, reports that redand black drum are foraging in the backwater shell beds and docks, and the first keeper flounder and bluefish have hit, both falling for Z-Man paddle tail soft baits on Blue Water Candy pink ball jig heads, a combo that can be used as the go-to inshore artificial setup all year round.
Nearshore, there are tautog, porgies, and a lot of smaller black sea bass coming in on shrimp. Pinfish and lizardfish (which are perfect bait for big fish) are thick around 5 miles out, and they will continue moving in as long as the water stays warm and the fish aren’t kept lethargic by a tight pressure gradient.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that blackfins are falling for the troll, jig, and pop. There have been wahoo around, in addition to a few scattered yellowfin tuna (in the 30 lb. range).
The water temperature on the break is in the prime 73 degree range, and thanks to a better moon phase, offshore fishing will be at its peak soon.
Donny, of Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, reports that stingrays and a few small sharks are making up the majority of the pier’s catch.
A handful of whiting have been pulled in, and anglers have claimed to see a couple small blues.
The sea mullet haven’t made their way this far south yet, but expect that to change soon.