Ocean Isle/Holden Beach – March 21, 2019
Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that winter and early spring fishing trips have been successful, especially when looking for speckled trout. There have been no signs of a winter kill, and the number of specks in the inshore waters has been staggering.
There are plenty of small shrimp and menhaden in the creeks, and Virginia mullet should be showing up soon.
Sheepshead fishing under area bridges has also been productive.
Brant, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that bluefish are starting to show up around the inlets, and spanish mackerel will be joining them once water temperatures hit the 66 degree mark (which won’t be long). King mackerel are not far off either, as there are large numbers of school-sized kings holding in the 80-90’ depth range. The kings will move into the depths of 50-65’ in the next month, if the weather stays warm.
Sea bass have been around as well, with most of the keepers coming from the 65-90’ depth range.
The Stream is showing signs of life, as wahoo are showing back up, along with blackfin tuna.
It’s still early in the season for most of these fisheries; however, they are starting to blossom, and signs are good for the coming spring and summer.
Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that there have been plenty of trout in the area throughout the winter, and though a lot of them have been throwbacks, there have definitely been some citation-sized fish mixed in. The majority of the specks have been biting Z-Man Trout TrickZ and Bass Assassins, with fried chicken and space guppy serving as the two most popular colors.
The sheepshead bite has been on fire around ICW docks, especially when using fiddler crabs.
Redfish can be found around the same docks, though they prefer cut shrimp and mud minnows. Quite a few reds are also being caught when sight fishing with artificial baits at low tide in shallow creeks.
Inshore fishing should remain productive over the next few weeks, as warmer water temperatures will cause the fish to become more active.
Offshore, the king mackerel bite has been steady around the tower, with spoons serving as the best bait. Most of the fish are between 6-8 lbs.
The wahoo bite has been steady around the Winyah Scarp and further south. Ballyhoo behind dark colors are doing the trick.
Over the next few weeks, the wahoo bite should start to slow down, but mahi should hopefully start pushing into the Gulf Stream. Bottom fishing in 100’ depths should also be productive.
Kevin, of Rigged & Ready Charters, reports that slot reds are being caught on mud minnows and cut shrimp along ICW docks, with the best docks to fish being those close to a creek mouth on a falling tide. Oyster bars are also a great place to start looking, and artificial baits like Gulp shrimp or Bass Assassins will produce. The same artificials will help connect with trout in the creeks as well.
Whiting are thick in the Cape Fear River mouth. Fish on a falling tide with cut shrimp to take advantage of the bite.
Black sea bass are in the 45-65′ range offshore, mixed with bluefish and the occasional bull drum. The fish are falling for cut baits on two-drop rigs or strip baits on a 2 oz. bucktail.
Kings are readily biting around Frying Pan Tower, as long as water temps are between 65 and 70 degrees. Slow-trolled cigar minnows work great, as do Drone spoons and Sea Witches.
Bottom fishing in the same area has been productive.
The wahoo bite continues to be strong and should really heat up in the next month. Big blackfin tuna should be all over the Steeples as well. Ballyhoo trolled on Sea Witches and small trolling feathers will produce.
Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that fishing has been great all winter thanks to the fact that it really hasn’t been all that cold. Water temperatures are holding at 60 degrees (plus or minus a few degrees depending on the day), and speckled trout have been happy to bite just about any soft plastic you throw at them. On days when the specks are especially picky, though, try a Z-Man in the mood ring color on a 3/16 Eye Strike jig. You can find most of the specks holding in deeper water on banks with good current.
Redfish have been biting as long as you can get to them in shallow water on a rising tide. Mud minnows and bright plastics (like electric chicken) have been working when fished very slowly on the bottom. As water temperatures continue to rise, the reds should start getting a little more active. Flounder will also start to enter the mix.
Kyle, of Speckulator Fishing Charters, reports that trout fishing has been consistent throughout the winter. Most of the spots that were holding fish in the late fall and early winter still have fish in them. The specks have varied in size, with nothing but small fish in some areas and a larger mix in others.
The big females are beginning to get into pre-spawn mood, and a handful of 7+ lb. fish have been caught in the last week or so. The action will only get better as the water warms, and then the trout will begin to filter out of the back creeks and into many of the areas that they will stay for the summer.
Artificials such as shrimp imitations, swim baits, and MirrOlures have been producing fish, as have mud minnows under a float (in addition to live shrimp when you can find them).
Slot and smaller redfish are beginning to move out of the skinny water creeks and back into the ICW and areas that they will call home throughout the summer. Fishing docks and grass edges should produce fish in the near future, and cut shrimp, crab, or mullet on a Carolina rig will get them to bite while the water is cool.
Black drum have been in the same areas.
Nearshore, sheepshead are beginning to bite around the jetty and on nearshore structure.
Cecil, of Rod & Reel Shop, reports that anglers have been finding good numbers of trout in the canals and backwaters, and fishing has been pretty decent for red drum on artificials and black drum on bait shrimp.
A 22″ flounder was caught last week, which is promising for the upcoming season.
If the weather will settle down, fishing will be great throughout the spring.
Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier is still closed for repair, but they hope to reopen this week.