Ocean Isle/Holden Beach – July 18, 2019
Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that some nice speckled trout have finally moved into the area. While 10-12” fish had been the norm so far this season, you can now find 18-22” specks in the backwaters. Fishing live shrimp under a cork during a rising tide should get in on the action.
Flounder have been showing up in great numbers, with fish as big as 4+ lbs. being caught. Area finger mullet are now getting some size to them, which are helping hold the pinfish off a little longer until the flatties can get a bite.
Red drum fishing has slowed down, but you can still find some slot fish around docks near the inlet.
Black drum and sheepshead are feeding and are taking shrimp and fiddler crabs, respectively. If you’re starting to get frustrated with the amount of pinfish nibbling bait in the area, fishing for the sheepshead with crabs can provide a nice reprieve.
Overall, though, good-sized live bait has been plentiful and highly effective at getting bites from the majority of the popular inshore species.
Kevin, of Rigged and Ready Charters, reports that nearshore fishing has been slow if targeting anything other than spanish or king mackerel. The spanish are just off the beach, while the kings are a little further off. Both mackerels are zoning in on live and dead bait.
Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that the speckled trout bite is holding steady on live shrimp around shell banks and rock walls. Most of the fish are in the 16-18” range and are being caught on float rigs.
The redfish have been biting very sporadically, but the fish that are being caught have been mid- to upper-slots. The best action has been on topwater plugs and live mullets in about a foot of water around shells and oysters.
The flounder bite has slowed down a lot recently, and most of the fish being caught are 12-13”.
Offshore, the schoolie king mackerel are still chewing in 50-80’ of water on spanish sardines and live pogies.
The grouper bite has slowed, but some fish are still being caught in the 100’ range.
Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that red drum have been biting well lately. When available, live shrimp has been the best bait for the reds, though small pogies and finger mullet have also been productive. Shallow oyster bars and feeder creeks on the falling tide have been giving up the most bites, but live shrimp on the bottom along deeper banks and bends in the creeks will produce as well. Floating cork rigs with suspended shrimp has proven to be the most effective method of catching reds, though bottom fishing has also produced a lot of bites.
Flounder fishing has been best tight to the grass in deeper sections of the creeks. Tossing Carolina-rigged finger mullet or Gulp-tipped jigs right along the banks and letting them drift a little with the current has been the ticket for connecting with the flatties. Pearl white has become the most attractive color for the soft plastics.
When you can catch them, live shrimp drifted along shell banks in the area have consistently put trout in the boat.
Kyle, of Speckulator Charters, reports that flounder fishing remains consistent throughout the area. Both the nearshore wrecks/artificial reefs and backwaters have continued to produce good numbers of quality flounder. Live menhaden fished on a Carolina rig have been accounting for most of the keeper flounder.
The speckled trout fishing also remains fairly steady. Live shrimp continues to produce, but live menhaden and finger mullet will also generate some nice trout this time of year (as will topwaters when the conditions are right).
Many anglers are finding good numbers of redfish mixed in on many of the spots where they have been either trout or flounder fishing. Schools of reds may show up in a variety of areas this time of year, and they will readily take any of the baits that are also being used to fish for trout and flounder.
Hard structure, such as bridge/dock pilings, as well as areas with hard or rocky bottoms, are continuing to produce nice sheepshead and black drum throughout the county. Using live fiddler crabs or live shrimp fished tight to the structure is usually the best way to find success. Fishing tight to the structure has been producing some nice redfish as well.
The relatively calm winds have allowed the beach water in the area to get really clear, which continues to produce strong spanish mackerel fishing. Trolling spoons or live bait have been accounting for good numbers, as well as some larger spanish, along the beaches.
Cecil, of Rod and Reel Shop, reports that inshore fishing is all about trout, flounder, and drum. Live bait will produce fish in the backwaters.
Spots are biting in the surf.
Kings are still holding in the 2-3 mile range, and to narrow your focus you should be looking for clear water with visible signs of bait in the area. Don’t be surprised to find a spanish mixed in, though if you’re looking to target spanish specifically, search the waters around Lighthouse Rock.
David, of Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier, reports that anglers have been enjoying catches of pompano, keeper flounder, red drum (20-24”), and spots. The flounder are hitting live minnows, while everything else has been taking bait shrimp. The best time to fish has been between 6:00 am-12:00 noon, with high tide producing the best results.