Ocean Isle/Holden Beach – May 9, 2019
Brant, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that spanish mackerel are on the beachfront in 15-30’ of water. Sight casting to birds and around menhaden pods will get bites. The standard #00 spoon on a #1 planer gets it done every time.
Schooling king mackerel have moved into 50-60’ depths and are readily chewing. Slow trolling cigar minnows will have them biting. Live menhaden will work, too, but most of the kings are less than 10 lbs. and dead cigars are usually better.
Grouper season opened last week, and fish have been coming in in the 90-120’ range.
The mahi bite has turned on from 120’ on out. Trolling weed lines with ballyhoo is the traditional and proven tactic. Don’t be afraid to venture out to depths in excess of 300’, though.
Kevin, of Rigged and Ready Bait and Tackle, reports that several slot red drum are being caught on mud minnows and cut shrimp along the docks of the ICW. Oyster bars and docks close to a creek mouth on falling tide have been the best places to look. Gulp shrimp and Bass Assassins have proved excellent search baits for finding schools of reds and trout, and the topwater action is hot for the upper-slot reds and larger trout.
Sea mullet and whiting are heavy in the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Fishing the falling tide with cut shrimp is a go-to option.
Nearshore king mackerel bites have heated up from the beach out to 15 miles. Cobia are starting to show up as well.
Off the beach, 65-70 degree water has kept kings around the Frying Pan Tower area. Drone spoons and sea witches trolled behind planers will work to fill the cooler. Slow-trolled cigar minnows have also produced.
Flounder, bluefish, and large black sea bass have made an appearance off the beach in the 45-65’ range. Using 2 oz. bucktails tipped with a strip bait, as well as cut baits on two-drop rigs, have produced.
Grouper season is now open, and the big scamps are in 75-95’ of water. Live cigar minnows work best.
The mahi bite at the Gulf Stream continues to be strong and should really heat up for the month of May. Blackfins have been plentiful at the Steeples, and ballyhoo trolled on sea witches and small trolling feathers have shown excellent results for both.
Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that the speckled trout bite has slowed, but the ones that are being caught have been quality 3-4 lb. fish. Most trout are being caught on live shrimp around shell banks.
The red and black drum bite is very steady around the docks and oyster rocks in the creeks. Blue crabs and live shrimp on Carolina rigs have been doing the trick.
The inshore flounder bite is heating up. More keepers are showing up, but most have been in the 13-15” range. Mud minnows and tiger minnows on Carolina rigs are fooling the majority of the flatties getting hooked.
Offshore, the king mackerel bite is on fire, with fish biting from 50-90’ of water. The kings are biting dead cigar minnows.
With the waters warming, the mahi have shown up in the Gulf Stream. Look for weed lines and rips, and trolling ballyhoo is producing the most fish.
Grouper are biting in 150’ on squid and cigar minnows.
Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that the redfish bite has consistently been strong. Targeting mouths of small feeder creeks while fishing tight to the banks with live or fresh shrimp on the bottom will produce. The reds have also been falling for the chartreuse Z-Man plastics on Eye Strike jigs.
Redfish and black drum have also held tight to area docks. Using fresh or dead shrimp is the bait of choice.
The trout bite has remained steady. The bigger 3-4 lb. fish are common on deeper grassy banks near the inlets and on shell banks. Fishing with live shrimp under a cork has accounted for the most bites.
More keeper flounder are showing up and being caught on mud minnows and New Penny-colored Gulp baits. The flounder are holding best on areas with sandy bottoms and just off of grassy banks.
Kyle, of Speckulator Charters, reports that the backwater trout bite has been consistent. There has been smaller numbers of fish but a better average size, with many fish in the 1.5-3 lb. range (and even a few larger ones in the mix). Live shrimp have been the go-to, but the specks have continued to respond to artificial baits as well.
The redfish and black drum bite has been fantastic. Schools of 15-30” reds have been seen, which is unusual to see all sizes mixed together. Most of the black drum have been keeper-sized, in the 15-20” range, with a few undersized, too. Live shrimp is the best choice, but dead shrimp or chunks of dead blue crab fished on the bottom will produce.
Flounder fishing is becoming more productive as water temperatures continue to climb. Shallow creeks with smooth mud or sandy bottoms are hot spots for finding flatties. Fishing mud minnows on a Carolina rig and weeding through the small ones has been the key to finding a few keepers for dinner.
King mackerel have begun to hit the decks of local piers, and cobia should not be far behind them. The spanish have shown up in full force along the beaches, along with a ton of bluefish mixed with a few bonito. Trolling spoons behind planers or casting plugs and jigs to breaking fish will catch both.
Bob, of Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier, reports that bluefish, spanish mackerel, black drum, and whiting are still biting around the pier.
A few flounder have been caught, but most have been undersized.