Wrightsville Beach – March 22, 2018
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that anglers are finding a few large schools of red drum that have moved back into the marsh. The reds spook easily in shallow water, but they can be landed with a little persistence and stealth. When fishing on the flats, use lures such as the Savage Gear shrimp or Z-Man jerk shads (which should be combined with Pro-Cure gel scents) and work them slowly to fool your fish.
Black and red drum, in addition to a few sheepshead, are being found around deeper waterway docks. Live mud minnows or Gulp shrimp will work for the reds, while cut shrimp on a Carolina rig or jig head will pull in the blacks.
Despite the freeze earlier this year, there are still a decent number of speckled trout around. They’re falling for soft plastics and shrimp imitations.
Sea mullet are biting bottom rigs with Fishbites and fresh shrimp at the mouth of the Cape Fear.
Offshore, sea bass are the main target for bottom fishermen. The biggest fish can be caught in 75’+ of water. False albacore are schooling in the 10-20 mile range and will be moving inshore soon, while kings are being reported in the 30-40 mile range. The kings prefer 68-70 degree water and can be caught by trolling cigar minnows or Drone spoons.
Bonito and big blues should start showing up soon, so get ready for action to really start picking up as water temperatures rise.
In the Gulf Stream, the wahoo bite was on fire during the last good weather window, so any day that you can get out there should produce fish. Trolling anglers can also expect to encounter a sailfish or two. Trolling skirted ballyhoo with Jr. Ilanders, Blue Water Candy sea witches and Jags has been the most productive, while fast trolling Cowbells and Super Smokers will also do the trick.
Blackfin are biting as well and will continue to improve in the coming weeks. Look for them to be around the Steeples and Nipple area in deeper water.
Casting poppers to surface feeding fish or trolling Green Machines, cedar plugs, and skirted ballyhoo should land some tuna.
Jigging anglers are reporting good catches of amberjack and African pompano and are expecting to start seeing cobia soon as well.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that despite the recent cold spell, anglers fishing deeper water docks and creeks are finding decent numbers of both red and black drum. Fresh shrimp is imperative for pulling in the blacks and is best fished on a Carolina rig. The reds are taking shrimp, too, in addition to live minnows and cut baits. They can also be found in the shallows on warmer days, where they prefer weedless soft plastics.
Warmer days have also been productive for speckled trout, with fish in the 5-7 lb. range going after natural-colored shrimp imitations (EZ and Vudu work well) that are fished slow. Trout are also being caught on standard grubs and jig heads.
Anglers on the tips of the Masonboro jetties have been finding the occasional sheepshead and tautog, but the dredging in the area has made the nearshore ARs more attractive for both species. The Liberty Ship has been especially productive for the tautog. Both species are biting squid-tipped jigs and sand fleas.
Sea bass fishing has been decent, with most of the bigger fish hanging in the 80’+ range. King fishing has been good in the 40 mile range northeast of Frying Pan Tower. If the weather lets you get out there, use cigar minnows with Drone spoons for the kings.
The weather has also been prohibiting a lot of anglers from taking advantage of a hot wahoo bite in the Gulf Stream. Double digit days are possible, with most fish coming in on skirted ballyhoo and Manns Stretch 30+. Starting at the Nipple and heading north in 150’ of water has been working the best.
Blackfins (up to 30 lbs.) are biting around the Steeples and Same Ole in about 250-350’ of water and are hitting smaller trolling lures like Sea Vixens and Green Machines. Jigging on the break is producing African pompano, with 4-6 oz. glow jigs working the best.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that red and black drum are biting in area creeks and along the intracoastal waterway. Cut shrimp is hard to beat for the drum, but they’re also hitting artificial baits like topwater plugs and soft plastics.
Flounder are just beginning to show up and can be found in area creeks when using Blue Water Candy soft plastics and jig heads.
Speckled trout have also been biting in area creeks. Topwater baits, soft plastics, and suspending twitchbaits are all producing fish.
Trevor, of ProFishNC Charters, reports that inshore waters are holding good numbers of red drum, especially on the flats and, as the day warms, under area docks. Black drum are showing up in local channels and are being pulled in on shrimp and clams.
The dredge work happening in the middle of Masonboro Inlet has made navigating and fishing in that area a little difficult due to moorings and working boats.
Nearshore fishing is all about black sea bass and porgies, though there are still decent numbers of tautog around as well. Big blues should be arriving within the next week or two, and there have been sightings of false albacore schools around 10-12 miles off the beach.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that if you can find a good day to get out, blackfins and wahoo are being caught by trolling anglers, and African pompano can be fooled with jigs.
Donny, of Johnnie Mercers Pier, reports that nothing but stingrays have been caught since the end of January. The water temperature has been hanging in the low-mid 50s, which is making fishing for anything else a little too difficult.