Fish Post

Hatteras/Ocracoke – Winter 2019-2020

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Ryan, of Hatteras Jack, reports that surf anglers are finding a good number of speckled trout in the area, as these fish continue to push out of the inlet. Casting soft plastics and shrimp into the deeper holes between breakers has been the most productive method.

Bottom rigs with shrimp have been producing good-sized sea mullet and some black drum.

Puppy drum are very scattered, but anglers with Carolina-rigged mullet are reporting fish in the area.

Quite a few dogfish have moved into the beaches, and cut mullet will be the preferred bait over the next couple months.

Some keeper striped bass have been caught on the ocean side.

Inshore anglers have been finding speckled trout in the deeper holes with soft plastics and hard suspending lures.

Striped bass fishing is picking up, and it will continue to do so over the next few weeks. Anglers should be targeting structure such as bridge pilings and channel markers with larger soft plastics.

Another fun fishery in the winter is the tautog bite. With cooler waters, they push onto the nearshore and inshore wrecks hitting mud fiddlers, green crabs, and even bucktail jigs. Look for tautogs at any place that’s previously held sheepshead.


Jim, of Rodanthe Pier, reports that bottom fishing anglers have been catching sea mullet, black drum, and good numbers of blowtoads. Carolina-rigged cut baits have been producing dogfish.

Red drum are also hitting cut mullet, though the bite seems to be focused around the daily high tides, and speckled trout were mixed in the counts, with most coming from closer to the beach.

Casey Hawley with a speckled trout caught on a suspending twitch bait in a creek off the Pungo River.

Heather, of Frank and Fran’s, reports that anglers fishing the surf in Rodanthe have been catching good numbers of black drum. Fishing shrimp in the deeper sloughs between the shoreline and sandbar has been most productive tactic. Blowtoads are mixed in, and they’re hitting the same bottom-rigged shrimp.

Cut bait anglers have been landing puppy drum and dogfish.

A few speckled trout are cooperating with anglers fishing either early or late in the day with soft plastics.

Over the next few weeks, anglers will have the most success while bottom fishing with cut baits, and dogfish and puppy drum will be the main targets.


Kristen, of Avon Pier, reports that Carolina-rigged cut baits have been producing some puppy drum, and bottom rigs tipped with shrimp have landed black drum and pufferfish.

Some speckled trout are in the counts, and they’re hitting bottom-rigged shrimp.


Cameron, of Frisco Tackle, reports that puppy drum are hitting Carolina-rigged cut mullet fished along the southern beaches. Also, bottom fishing with shrimp has been producing pufferfish, sea mullet, and the occasional flounder hook-up.

Speckled trout fishing has been good with cooler water and bait getting the fish to pull out of the sounds and into the surf zone. Most anglers are having success with soft plastics and shrimp on bottom rigs.

Over the next few months, fishing the beaches out front will continue to produce puppy drum and sea mullet for anglers bottom fishing, and trout will stick around for a bit until the temperatures really start to bottom out near the beginning of the new year.

Rockfish are currently being caught in the sounds, and the action will continue as the fish stay fairly active with cold water temperatures.

Scott Hackler and his dad and brother, with a 70 lb. wahoo and mix of fish caught with Capt. Jeremy Hicks, of Calypso Sportfishing Charters out of Hatteras Harbor Marina.

Lee, of Teach’s Lair, reports that anglers at the Point have continued to see runs of citation-class red drum (to 53”). Some days have seen up to 40 fish caught, with cut baits on fish finder rigs being the most productive.

Bluefish and sharks are both being caught on the same cut baits fished out at the Point.

The southern beaches have seen good numbers of sea mullet mixed in with the other bottom feeders, and bottom rigs fished with shrimp has been producing black drum and blowtoads.

Speckled trout are being caught with soft plastic grubs and fresh shrimp. Walking the beach searching for deep holes has proven to be the most successful.

Inshore anglers are landing good numbers of speckled trout, with most being caught in deeper holes and ledges towards the inlets. Puppy drum are mixed in these same areas, and they’re hitting the same soft plastics.

Offshore trips have been successful in landing blackfin tuna on skirted ballyhoo, and anglers fishing live baits have been bringing in large king mackerel.

Over the next few weeks, the tuna fishing will stay steady, and hopefully a showing of bluefins will arrive.

Surf anglers will be targeting dogfish, as well as red and black drum, with cut baits.


Joey, of Fingeance Sportfishing, reports that anglers are still catching good numbers of speckled trout. Casting fried-chicken colored Z-Man Trout Tricks on 1/4 oz. jig heads has been the go-to setup.

Really good numbers of under-slot red drum are holding in these same areas, and they’re hitting Carolina-rigged cut mullet and casting jigs.

As the water cools, inshore anglers focus their efforts on the great striped bass fishery. These fish are currently staged up around bridges and similar structure in the sound and soon will begin their push into mainland river systems.


Jay, of Bite Me Sportfishing, reports that king mackerel fishing has been good in both size and numbers for anglers fishing live baits. Some big sharks are hitting the same live baits.

Trolling at the break is producing good numbers of chunky blackfin tuna. Wahoo and the stray late season mahi are mixed in the counts.

Over the winter months, local anglers keep their focus on tuna, as that bite tends to run into March.


Jeremy, of Calypso Sportfishing, reports that blackfin tuna (to 30+ lbs.), with a few yellowfins, have been the hot bite. Ballyhoo fished on Sea Witches and similar skirts have been most productive, and blue/white has been the best color pattern.

Scattered mahi and wahoo are mixed in the counts, and they’re hitting the same skirted baits.

King mackerel fishing has been excellent, with many anglers finding limits before noon while fishing live baits. The kings have been a great class of fish (to 60 lbs.).

Through the winter, look for tuna to stay in the counts, as they are a year-round fishery in the area.


Jessie, of Carolina Girl Sportfishing, reports that king mackerel fishing continues to be very good in the area. Light tackle setups rigged with live baits have been landing limits of large (to 60 lbs.) fish.

Blackfin tuna fishing has also been great, and many have been a citation-class of fish (30+ lbs.). Pulling skirted baits has been the most common method, but some anglers have been successful in jigging above rocks using Williamson and Gypsy jigs.

As we move into winter, anglers will continue to target the yellowfins that hang in the area.

A few bluefin are already being spotted, and those seeking a fight of a lifetime look forward to the bite picking up as water temps drop.


Tradewinds Tackle reports that Ocracoke Island has begun to open for visitors. Though many shops are still recovering, there are miles of open beaches with puppy drum, sea mullet, and black drum all being caught on bottom rigs.