Fish Post

Ocean Isle/Holden Beach – May 23, 2019

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Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that the flounder bite has taken off and is steadily improving, and many of the flounder are keepers. Mud minnows on Carolina rigs and Gulp curly tails in the pearl color have done well for the flatfish.

The redfish bite has been steady. The catches include mostly slot fish, with a few over-slots here and there. Fresh shrimp has been the go to bait, when you can find shrimp big enough, but mud minnows and other live bait on Carolina rigs is also doing the trick.

Some decent black drum are being landed, with fresh shrimp producing the best numbers of fish. Oyster beds, drop-offs, and docks continue to be the best areas to target.

BJ Thomas, of Benson, NC, with a cobia that fell for a piece of cut bait while fishing on his father’s boat, “Backlash,” out of Holden Beach.

Brant, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that pogies are here. They are in small pods moving south in 10-20’ of water, and these work as good baits while flounder fishing.

Near the beach in 20-40’ of water, there are plenty of spanish mackerel. The spanish can be caught with the traditional Clarkspoon and planer setup, or by casting metal jigs to schools on the surface. The best bluefish and spanish bite will be near the pods of pogies.

Cobia are starting to show in the area, and targeting the bait pods is a good way to find one.

In the 50-60’ depth range, the king mackerel are around in strong numbers.


Kevin, of Rigged and Ready Charters, reports that several slot redfish are being caught on mud minnows and cut shrimp along the docks in the ICW. The best places are docks close to a creek mouth and on a falling tide. Fishing near oysters bars has produced as well. Artificial baits like Gulp shrimp and Bass Assassins are great search baits for finding schools of reds (and trout).

Nearshore king mackerel are biting close to the beach out to 15 miles. Cobia have been in the mix of kings.

Black sea bass are thick everywhere along the 45-65’ range, and a few flounder are mixed in. Cut baits on two-drop rigs or 2 oz. bucktails tipped with a strip bait work best.

Offshore king mackerel are thick as can be around Frying Pan Tower. Cigar minnows produce as good as anything, and Drone spoons and Sea Witches behind planers will also help fill the cooler.

Scamps have been chewing in 75-95’ of water. Live cigar minnows are best on a bottom rig.

Mahi are on fire at the Gulf Stream, and blackfin tuna are biting around the Steeples. Ballyhoo trolled on Sea Witches and small trolling feathers will produce for both.


Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that the flounder action is strong around deeper holes in the creeks. Most of the flounder have been keeper fish (16-18”).

The redfish and trout bite is also steady, with both species hanging out in the same areas. They are falling for live shrimp (when available), as well as live mud minnows, on float rigs.

The black drum are chewing around docks on fresh whole shrimp. The occasional redfish will also be hanging around the docks with the black drum.

King mackerel are in 50-80’ of water and falling for dead cigar minnows, and the grouper bite is hot, with most fish in the 130-180’ range coming in on live and dead cigar minnows.


Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that the redfish have turned on lately. Drifting live shrimp along grass lines of creeks and around oyster beds have produced reds ranging from 17-30”. Fishing dead shrimp and mud minnows on the bottom in deeper portions of the same areas has also worked.

Keeper flounder are showing more often. Areas with sandy bottoms on a low rising tide have been holding the most fish. Mud minnows fished on the bottom, as well as Z-Man plastics in bright colors on jig heads, have produced the flatties.

Trout have slowed down some, but the ones still around are much better size. The trout are averaging 17-21” and being caught in the same areas as the reds.

Ledger Hill (age 13) and father, David Hill, showing off a red drum they caught on fresh shrimp while fishing in the Ocean Isle Beach area.

Kyle, of Speckulator Charters, reports that there are plenty of keeper-size flounder, with fish up to 5-6+ lbs. being caught. Many of the usual spots have been producing, including but not limited to Shallotte and Lockwood Folly rivers, as well as a variety of spots along the ICW. The peanut menhaden have shown up in the ICW and have been the go-to bait for the larger flounder, but mud minnows are continuing to produce fish as well.

Speckled trout have also continued to bite consistently, as they make their way up the local creeks and rivers to spawn. There have been a few nice trout (2-3 lbs.), along with a larger one or two here and there. Live shrimp under a float have continued to be the bait of choice, but artificial shrimp imitations have been producing as well.

Most of the redfish and black drum have been caught while trout fishing with live shrimp, but fishing near docks along the ICW and the local bridges can also be good spots.

Off the beach, the spanish mackerel fishing remains good, as long as the water is clean. The spanish are mostly responding to spoons trolled behind planers, as well as slow-trolled live menhaden meant for a king mackerel.


Cecil, of Rod and Reel Shop, reports that there are lots of bluefish still around, and they are falling for both cut mullet and shrimp.

Whiting and croaker are biting well in the surf on fresh shrimp.

Flounder are showing up near the rivers and the inlets. Most range from 15-27”, and small live baits have worked best.

Spanish are right off the beach and up to 3 miles out, and kings are biting around 15 miles.


David, of Ocean Isle Beach Pier, reports that the spanish are biting. Large numbers of keeper spanish are being caught. Bluefish are mixed in, and Gotcha plugs are fooling both species.

Some nice whiting are being landed, mostly on fresh shrimp.

A few flounder have been seen, but most are still small, and trout and pompano are being brought up.