Wrightsville Beach – May 24, 2018
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that fishing has been steadily improving over the last couple of weeks. The most recent development has been the increased number of flounder around area inlets and creeks, where Gulp jerk shads and shrimp are consistently producing. Z-Man plastics and live baits are finding fish as well.
Red and black drum are hanging around docks in the creeks and waterways, with more sheepshead in the mix as well. Live mud minnows and cut shrimp are working for the drum, while fiddler crabs are producing sheepshead bites.
Redfish that have been staying on the flats are starting to spread out now thanks to warmer water, and they will hit topwater lures, weed less rigged soft plastics, and spoons. Bluefish aren’t biting in as big of numbers as they were before, but finding a nice one is still a possibility.
Bluefish are, however, still biting in the surf. Cut mullet has been the most popular bait, though other natural baits and casting jigs will work, too. Flounder are also showing up in the surf, in addition to sea mullet, small croaker, black and red drum, and a few pompano.
The spanish mackerel action has been strong within the 3-5 mile range, but expect the fish to move closer once the rain moves on. Clarkspoons and #1 or #2 planers have been effective, as have Yo-Zuri Deep Divers, Blue Water Candy Spanish Daisies, and a variety of casting jigs.
Cobia season is open and fish have been seen, but the bite hasn’t really heated up yet.
King mackerel have been caught within a few miles of the beach, but the best fishing has been about 15 miles out. Dead cigar minnows and Drone spoons are working on the troll, but live bluefish and pogies are an even better choice when available.
Gag grouper are biting on the bottom in the 15-25 mile range, along with some sea bass and grunts. Scamps, red grouper, beeliners, and triggerfish are a little farther out in the 35+ mile range.
Just about every boat going out to the Stream has either caught, hooked, or seen a blue marlin, especially when pulling dredges and fishing in deep water. Mahi fishing has been productive, while the tuna and wahoo bite has been a little more sporadic. Trolling ballyhoo skirted with Jr. Ilanders or Blue Water Candy sea witches has accounted for most of the fish, though Trident lures, Cedar plugs, and Green Machines caught plenty of fish as well.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that several schools of red drum have been found behind Masonboro Island. Topwaters (such as Rapala Skitterwalks) have been working well early, while soft jerk baits and shrimp baits are better when the sun is high.
Flounder fishing has improved, with keepers up to 3 lbs. being caught among a lot of smaller fish. Mud minnows on Carolina rigs are accounting for most of the catches, though Gulp shrimp will do if you can’t find bait.
Surf anglers are finding good catches of spanish and bluefish.
Spanish mackerel fishing has also been very good just off the beach in about 50’ of water. Trolling size 0 Clarkspoons has been the best bet, though casting Spanish Candies around the Liberty Ship has been productive as well.
Small kings have been mixed in with the spanish, but bigger kings can be found between 10-12 miles out. Troll cigar minnows or Drone spoons to entice the kings.
A few cobia have been seen along nearshore ARs and on schools of menhaden. Sight casting bucktails, live eels, or Hogy soft baits has done the most damage.
Bottom fishing is best in the 40+ mile range, with a variety of species being caught. Some nice black sea bass have been found as close as 20 miles.
Fishing in the Stream has continued to be excellent. Large numbers of gaffer-sized dolphin, along with blackfin tuna and a few wahoo, have been the typical catch, though several blue marlin have been caught as well. Most of the mahi and tuna have been coming from the weed lines just offshore of the break in 200-400’ of water, while the blue marlin are biting in 150-200 fathoms. The key is to find a temperature break and troll skirted ballyhoo, Moldcrafts, or Black Barts.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that a few flounder have been biting, and the bite should improve in the weeks to come. Some red drum are feeding in area creeks and are taking an interest in Rapala topwater plugs and Blue Water Candy/Fathom soft plastics.
Spanish mackerel fishing has been excellent around Wrightsville Beach, where casting Blue Water Candy jigs or trolling traditional spoon and planer setups has been getting a lot of results. Atlantic bonito are still hanging around the beach as well, and trolling Deep Divers or a Blue Water Candy slingshot jig will get the job done.
Cobia have been spotted around the area, and fishing large schools of menhaden or setting up on area inlets should produce on the cobia. It’s a good idea to keep a cobia jig on hand to cast to the fish if you see them on the surface.
Trevor, of ProFishNC Charters, reports that plenty of fish are biting inshore and most of them are coming in on Blue Water Candy or Z-Man curly tail grubs on a pink Blue Water Candy jig head combined with your favorite Pro-Cure scent. A lot of flounder are being found around pilings, inlets, and grass lines right now, where slow trolling or drifting will find fish. Live bait is the key, so bring your cast net.
Spanish have shown up in good numbers and can be caught trolling spoons off the beach.
King mackerel are slowly moving closer to shore, with fish now in the 7-14 mile range. Divers have been the lure of choice when targeting them. Cobia have started to show up around buoys in the major inlets, though the bite is still best a little to the south.
Bottom fishing is improving in the 10 mile range, with good numbers of flounder and grunts being caught alongside sea bass. Closer to the beach, gray trout, black sea bass, and flounder are all coming from live minnows and diamond jigs.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that mahi fishing is still great, along with scattered blackfins, yellowfins, and wahoo. Most of these fish are found in 130-150’ of water.
The main story, though, is billfish, which are showing up in force. Look for temperature breaks from 80 fathoms or deeper and bring along your heavy tackle to make the most of the bite.
Josh, of Johnnie Mercers Pier, reports that a few cobia have been seen but a big one hasn’t been landed yet. Chopper blues and 3-4 lb. spanish are coming through consistently and will fall for Gotcha plugs.
Some nice Virginia mullet have come over the rails around the middle of the day, while a few small flounder have been biting here and there.
One 31 lb. king mackerel has been landed.