Wrightsville Beach – May 10, 2018
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that inshore fishing has improved drastically now that we’re in a stable warm weather pattern. There have been plenty of red and black drum hanging around docks in the creeks and ICW, with live mud minnows, cut shrimp, and soft plastics all working well as bait. The reds that have been on the flats in the marsh will start to spread into more areas this month, and they will also begin to break into smaller schools as the water warms up. The first few flounder are also starting to come in.
Big bluefish have been the most common species in the area. The blues are primarily hanging in creeks and around inlets, and they’re biting topwater plugs, swimbaits, and spoons on a wire leader.
Big blues are also biting in the surf, with cut mullet being the best choice for bait (but spoons and topwater poppers also working). Some smaller blues, in addition to small croaker and black drum, are coming from the beach as well.
Nearshore, spanish mackerel fishing is firing up around 3-5 miles off the beach. A few 3 lb. fish have been reported, though most have been smaller. Yo-Zuri Deep Divers and Blue Water Candy Spanish Daisies have been producing the most fish, as has the traditional Clarkspoon and #1 planer spread.
Bonito fishing will start to slow soon. Right now the best time to catch them is on the surface just after sunrise, or deeper down later in the day. Trolling planers and spoons are the best tactics for finding the bonito.
Cobia season is open from the beach out to 3 miles, and the action should be heating up soon.
Grouper season is open now as well, and gags can be found in the 15-25 mile range, while scamps and reds are in the 40+ mile range.
Kings are biting around ledges in as little as 60’ of water, and they will continue to move inshore.
Fishing in the Gulf Stream has been good for mahi, and blackfins and a handful of yellowfins are still biting. Wahoo may crash into the spread at any time, and more billfish will start to show up this month. Troll ballyhoo skirted with JR Ilanders, Ilander Sailures, and Blue Water Candy sea witches to make the most of the offshore action.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that warmer water temperatures have really given a boost to inshore fishing over the past week. Red drum have spread out along the creeks and flats (especially behind Masonboro Island) and can be caught on soft plastics and topwater lures, while black drum (up to 8 lbs.) can be caught with shrimp around ICW docks.
Sheepshead fishing has been getting good, especially when using fiddler crabs along bridges and bulkheads.
In the surf, bluefish and sea mullet are being caught.
The spanish mackerel, bonito, and bluefish bite has been on fire nearshore. Trolling with #1 Clarkspoons and medium Yo-Zuri Deep Divers has been productive, while Big Nic Spanish Candies and Hogy Heavy Minnows are working when casting. The Liberty Ship and 5 Mile Boxcar areas are responsible for most of the spanish and bonito bite.
Cobia are starting to show up, mainly around menhaden schools along the beach and near the Liberty Ship. Bucktails and Hogy lures are going to be the ticket once the cobia action really starts picking up.
Kings are primarily hanging out in the 20 mile range, though a few have been reported from as close as 10 miles out. Trolling cigar minnows and larger Deep Divers, especially around the Schoolhouse, will give you the best chance of landing one.
Gag grouper fishing has been slow overall, with the 90’ range seeming to be the best spot to find them. Dead cigar minnows have accounted for most of the catch. Scamp grouper and beeliners are being found in the 40 mile range northeast of Frying Pan Tower, while red grouper and triggers are biting another 10 miles out on hard bottoms in 120-130’ of water.
Gulfstream fishing has been hot thanks to a recent push of gaffer-sized dolphin this past week. Most of the action is coming from weedlines in 200-600’ of water just beyond the break, where larger blackfins and a few yellowfins are biting as well. Trolling skirted ballyhoo along with smaller lures (such as Sea Vixen Squidburts and flyers) has worked for all of the above species.
The wahoo bite has slowed, but the past week has seen a few billfish encounters, so keep a horse ballyhoo/Express combo in the short rigger.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports red hot action when it comes to the bonito and spanish mackerel bite off the beach. Sea Striker planers and Clarkspoons have been working really well, as have Yo-Zuri Deep Divers and Rapala deep-diving X-Raps. Jigs like Stingsilvers and Kastmasters are also pulling in fish when used while drifting and jigging near structure.
Slot and over-slot redfish are biting in area creeks, as are plenty of chopper blues. Fathom Inshore plastics with their bug-eye jig heads are working great for the reds, and the blues will take just about anything you throw at them.
Cobia are starting to show up in small numbers and will be biting in full force soon. Keeping a Blue Water Candy cobia jig on deck for when they make their appearance is a good idea, though if you don’t have one handy, fishing live and dead baits on the bottom of area inlets can do the trick, too.
Trevor, of ProFishNC Charters, reports king mackerel in the 12-20 mile range in good numbers, and while these kings are small, they’re feeding heavily. Drone spoons and dead baits on lures are getting the most bites.
Bonito and spanish are all over the beach in the 1-5 mile range. Expect to find them closer to shore in the morning before they start to head further out during the middle of the day. Casting jigs and trolling Deep Divers (or really small Drone spoons) will get the fish.
Drum fishing has picked up, as big ocean drum are pushing in and replacing the winter/hold-out resident fish.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that offshore anglers can find excellent fishing for blackfins and mahi, with scattered wahoo and yellowfins all in 130-225’ of water. Moving water will bring big changes soon.
Dave, of Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, reports that amidst a lot of pinfish, anglers are also finding an abundance of small bluefish using Gotcha plugs, a few flounder while baiting with shrimp, and even an early 5 lb. cobia on a King Spro.