Topsail / Sneads Ferry – April 25, 2019
Mike, of Native Son, reports that the speckled trout bite has been good over the past couple of weeks, with a lot of small fish biting among the bigger ones. The trout are starting to move out of the deeper creeks and can be found in the shallow flats while the sun is heating the water. Water temperatures as a whole have been on the rise, and a topwater lure can be a fantastic way to locate the fish near the surface. Look for the usual current breaks with bait nearby to increase your chances of a strike.
Inshore red drum are following the same patterns as the trout, but in different areas within the creeks. Look for bait or a spot where the reds can lounge out of the current (such as darker bottom areas or oysters). The few big schools that have been around are starting to break up into pods, and there’s reason to believe that a lot of them are still hanging out in the surf and on live bottom in the ocean. With slightly warmer water temperatures and an influx of bait, the red bite should really kick off.
Off the beach, bonito have finally started to make an appearance. Right now, the fish are deep and reluctant to show themselves on the surface, so planers and big Clarkspoons are the weapons of choice. Troll your favorite live bottom or AR to make contact, and once you find a concentration of fish, get ready to turn the motor off. Don’t get in a high speed chase if you see the bonito busting on the surface, as you’ll only send them deep or out of the area completely. Simply drift over the school, then make a wide circle around and do it again to keep getting hits. Using a 2 oz. diamond jig to get deep quickly has been effective, and has produced a number of keeper black sea bass and flounder at the same time.
Chadwick, of South End Anglers, reports that inshore fishing has been consistent over the last month or so. Plenty of speckled trout and sporadic red drum are scattered around docks, creeks, and boat basins. The reds prefer oyster rocks and shell bottoms, and the specks are more partial to grass lines. Both species of fish will attack soft plastics, with the trout also going after MR17s.
Bluefish are also starting to filter in from the ocean, and they will take the same offerings presented to the reds and trout.
Off the beach, water temperatures have warmed slightly thanks to all the strong SW winds, but those conditions have also unfortunately limited days outside the inlet.
When the trip can be made, bluefish are showing up more and more, with most of them in the 1-4 lb. range.
False albacore have been popping up within sight of land, and Hogy Epoxy or Heavy Minnows are getting them to bite.
The first Atlantic bonito and spanish mackerel have shown up as well, and both will fall for Yo-Zuri or Rapala deep diving plugs and traditional planer/spoon combos. When you find the fish on the surface, switch to Hogy Epoxy Minnows, Stingsilvers, or Jigfish, and start casting. The upcoming weeks should give anglers the opportunity to fly cast. Use small Surf Candies, Deceivers, and Clouser minnows to get the job done.
On the nearshore bottom, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgies, and the occasional flounder are all nibbling on chicken rigs with squid, metal jigs, and bucktails.
Ray, of Spring Tide Guide Service, reports that keeper inshore flounder are starting to come in on artificial baits, but red drum are still largely MIA (though it won’t be long before the bite picks up).
Speckled trout fishing has seen a recent surge in productivity when using topwater baits (such as X-Raps and Super Spook Jrs.), especially when the weather is cloudy or rainy early in the morning or late in the afternoon. MR17s have also been getting attention.
Spanish mackerel are getting more plentiful by the day, and quite a few bonito have been chewing off the beach as well. Most of them are deep in the water column, so trolling with planer and Drone spoon combos has been more productive than casting. When the fish do occasionally come to the surface, throwing Big Nic Spanish Candies will do the trick.
Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that bonito are around, with most of the action happening at first light and a little later (after boat traffic dies down a bit). Most of the fish are being caught on the troll and are down deep. Clarkspoons behind planers have been fooling these deeper fish, especially around the Liberty Ship and Diver’s Rock.
There are quite a few 1-4 lb. bluefish swimming around these areas as well, and the blues will hit the spoons in addition to whatever jig you feel like throwing to them.
False albacore have also been mixed in with the bonito and bluefish.
John, of Pelagic Hunter Sportfishing, reports that Atlantic bonito fishing has been picking up over the recent weeks, and it’s really going to be solid in another week or two. They’re partial to water in the 62 degree range, which has lately been between 4-5 miles out. Spanish and blues have been in this area and along the beach as well. Both spoons and casting jigs will work for all three species.
King mackerel (anywhere from 4-15 lbs., with the average being 6-8 lbs.) have been swimming in the 10-20 mile range, and they have been ravenous over the past few weeks.
Offshore trolling is producing mahi, wahoo, and tuna, and on the bottom, things are looking good for the opening of grouper season on May 1. A standard mix of keeper bottom fish have been coming up alongside the recent catch-and-release grouper.
Tyler, of Seaview Fishing Pier, reports that anglers have been finding sea mullet and black drum. Bluefish are also starting to show up.
Edwin, of Surf City Pier, reports that a few Virginia mullet and black drum, some bluefish and red drum, and a handful of puffers have all come in over the last two weeks.
Brandy, of Jolly Roger Pier, reports that a lot of mullet are coming in on clam Fishbites and shrimp. The best time to fish has been around high tide when the water is a little rough.
Bluefish have been biting bottom rigs, though plugs are becoming more popular by the day.
A few black drum, a handful of trout, and a couple of keeper flounder have all been chewing, and false albacore are making sporadic runs.