Wrightsville Beach – April 26, 2018
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that the recent inshore surge of bluefish shows no signs of stopping over the coming weeks. The blues can be found just about anywhere and will bite just about anything, so pick your favorite bait and get casting (if you start running out of tackle, tie on a wire leader).
A few schools of red and black drum are hanging around ICW docks. As the water warms, the fish will start to spread out, but for now the drum can be found in large groups and will bite live mud minnows, cut shrimp, and soft plastics.
Speckled trout are also biting, which makes for some fun catch and release fishing.
The surf is producing big bluefish on cut mullet, spoons, and topwater poppers. In addition to the blues, some sea mullet, croaker, and a few skates are also coming in.
Slot-sized red drum can be found around area inlets and will fall for cut mullet.
Nearshore, this is the best time to go bonito fishing if you’re planning to give it a shot. The bonito can be caught with the same tactics and tackle that you would use to go after spanish, such as casting jigs or trolling lures. Gotcha Jigfish lures and Shore lures (especially in .75-1.5 oz. sizes) on fluorocarbon leaders work best. Cast along the edge of a school, let the jig sink, and then start retrieving quickly to get the attention of the fish. For the troll, Yo-Zuri Deep Divers or #1 Clarkspoons are great options.
Black sea bass are still coming in in decent numbers, though the larger fish are starting to head offshore. In the 15-25 mile range, kings are biting around the ledges in as little as 70’ of water. Trolling cigar minnows or Drone spoons on planers or downriggers is the best way to catch them.
In the Stream, fishing has remained strong. Quality numbers of blackfins and a handful of yellowfins are coming in, and the wahoo bite has stayed hot. Trolled ballyhoo skirted with JR Ilanders, Ilander Sailures, and Blue Water Candy sea witches accounted for most of the fish, though Trident lures, cedar plugs, and Green Machines are working as well. In addition to some mono/fluoro rigs for the tuna, be sure to bring wire/cable rigs for the ‘hoos.
Jigging anglers are pulling in good catches of blackfin tuna and amberjack.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that both red and black drum are still being caught in the boat basins and along deeper docks in the waterway with mud minnows and shrimp. A few nice trout have been pulled in on topwater lures, and chopper blues can be found all throughout the area, from the river to the bays and creeks along the ICW. Jerkbaits and topwater poppers are producing the most blues.
Surf anglers are catching decent numbers of sea mullet and small bluefish, mainly on cut shrimp on bottom rigs.
Bonito are hanging around the Liberty Ship and other nearshore ARs, and some of the first spanish mackerel are starting to come in around 3-5 miles out. The bite will only continue to improve as water temperatures keep rising into the 60s. For both the bonito and spanish, troll Clarkspoons and Deep Divers or cast Diamond or Epoxy jigs.
Good king fishing can be found around the 30 mile range, where bottom anglers are also finding sea bass and grunts.
In the Gulf Stream, wahoo and both blackfin and yellowfin tuna continue to bite, mainly from around the Same Ole to the Nipple. The Steeples was also producing tuna. Skirted ballyhoo, Green Machines, and small lures have accounted for most of the bite. Jigging anglers are finding larger amberjacks and scattered African pompano.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that some solid speckled trout action can be found around the beach. There’s also both red and black drum, some small flounder, and plenty of chopper blue action. Both drum species are biting shrimp, while the reds are also taking soft plastics (Blue Water Candy has been working well). The trout are going after soft plastics, too. Hard baits are also working for the reds and trout, especially the X-Rap, Skitterwalk Excalibur Spook, and the Bill Lewis Rattletrap.
Fishing should only get better as the weather continues to warm up, and anglers should be getting ready for bonito, kings, and the first of the spanish to show up on area beaches.
Trevor, of ProFishNC Charters, reports that the water is warming up to about 60 degrees, and this is allowing plenty of bonito to move into the area off Wrighstville Beach from the tip of the jetty out to 8 miles. The fish are concentrated heavily on wreck structures.
Flounder are biting great in the backwater (be sure to push back as far as you can to the headwaters of your chosen estuary to start fishing). It seems that most of the flounder this time of year are in the very, very back, feeding on the newly arrived baitfish.
The giant “bighead blues” are here, and frozen cut bait works great to catch them, especially when it’s on a Carolina rig. Though these 10-14 lb. blues aren’t great to eat, they put up an awesome fight.
Reds can be found in the backwater creeks and around docks. Cut shrimp and live minnows are working well. However, beware of the influx of inshore pinfish.
Look for spanish mackerel to start showing up in the next three weeks, along with schools of small kings on the beach.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that the water has been heating up to the high 60s out on the break, where lots of activity (both baitfish and bigger) has been found. Tuna have been marked sub 150’, which is making the troll bite slow. Blackfins, yellowfins, and wahoo are hanging around 150-300’ on the edge of the break. Jigging was the trick for both the blackfins and yellowfins.
The wahoo are scattered, so the tuna action has been the best.
Raven, of Johnnie Mercers Pier, reports that the first flounder of the season has been caught from the pier, in addition to some bluefish, black drum, and a few sea mullet. Shrimp has accounted for almost all of the bites.
Strong winds have been blowing through the area, but the water temperature is hanging above 60 degrees, which makes for improved fishing.