Wrightsville Beach – March 21, 2019
Matt, of Tex’s Tackle, reports that water temperatures are above average for this time of year, and this has the inshore fish biting. Reds are schooled up, and sightfishing for them has been possible thanks to clean water. Some of them have made their way into the marsh near the inlets, while some are still in the surf.
In the creeks and ICW, red and black drum will be in deeper holes or around docks at low tide, and up on mud flats and oyster bars as the tide comes in. Fresh shrimp, cut mullet, or live mud minnows on a Carolina rig will entice both species, though Gulp and Z-Man soft plastics will work if you prefer artificials. Fish live or artificial baits slowly.
Big speckled trout are still around this month, and you can use Z-Mans or MirrOlures to attract them.
The surf has been holding puffers, sea mullet, and dogfish, and you have a chance at a red drum near the inlets if conditions are right. Use fresh shrimp or squid fished on the bottom for all of the above species.
Nearshore bottom fishing has been producing big sea bass in the 60’+ range. Throwing squid on a bottom rig or using Lil Man Roscoe jigs, Stingsilvers, or 2 oz. bucktails should get a bite.
This is the time of year that big 10+ lb. bluefish show up along with big schools of false albacore. Out near the Frying Pan Tower, kings are readily biting Drone spoons and dead bait rigs, and they will be moving closer to the beach as water temperatures rise.
Wahoo fishing has been outstanding in the Gulf Stream throughout the winter, and while the numbers will diminish over the next few weeks, there will still be plenty of big fish to catch. A handful of sailfish and mahi have been caught recently, and while blackfin tuna have been scattered so far, they should be showing up more throughout the rest of March, along with (hopefully) more yellowfins.
Bottom fishing has been productive for triggerfish, beeliners, grunts, African pompano, amberjacks, and a variety of snapper.
Arlen, of Intracoastal Angler, reports that inshore anglers are catching good numbers of red drum and speckled trout. Larger schools of reds have been plentiful in the deeper boat basins and creeks behind Masonboro Island and Figure 8, and while live bait and cut shrimp are the most effective baits, several are being caught on scented soft plastics and Yo-Zuri 3DS minnows fished very slowly. Reducing fluorocarbon leader size to 15 lbs. or less has been critical due to the clear water conditions.
Larger speckled trout have been in the same areas, with fish up to 5 lbs. reported over the last few weeks. While getting them to bite can be tricky, live shrimp and smaller soft plastics have been effective.
Keeper black drum are being caught from deeper creeks and along the Masonboro Inlet jetties, with fresh shrimp on First Flight jigs producing big catches.
As water temperatures continue to rise, look for the drum to begin to spread out from their tight schools along the flats and deeper marsh banks. Trout fishing should improve as well, with more fish eager to bite twitchbaits and topwater lures.
Surf anglers are catching puffers, whiting, and a few black drum. Fresh shrimp and Fishbites on small two-hook rigs are producing the best results. Chopper blues should be moving in over the next few weeks, coming with warmer water temperatures.
Nearshore wrecks and reefs in the 2-10 mile range have been producing keeper sea bass and tautog. A few schools of false albacore have been seen in the 10-15 mile range, and as temperatures warm, they should be joining the bluefish closer to shore.
King mackerel fishing has been good in the 40-45 mile range, with the best catches coming from the Frying Pan Tower area. Trolling white Drone spoons or cigar minnows on dead bait rigs has produced fish up to 30 lbs. In the next few weeks, they will be moving closer to the beach with the 68-70 degree water.
Bottom fishing has been good in depths of 120’, especially when looking for triggerfish and beeliners with squid and cut baits.
In the Gulf Stream, consistent catches of wahoo up to 90 lbs. are still being made, though the world-class wahoo bite of February has tapered off. The ‘hoos, along with plenty of sailfish, are being caught on trolled ballyhoo, mainly from the waters north of the Same Ole.
Larger blackfin tuna have been reported from around the Steeples, with cedar plugs and Green Machines producing the best numbers. The blackfin bite should only improve through April, with a few yellowin hopefully joining the mix as well.
Jamie, of Seagate Charters, reports that fishing has been good over the winter and into the early spring thanks to warmer-than-usual water temperatures and mild weather. Red drum are biting readily on the beachfront and along the ICW, where you also have a good shot at a speckled trout or flounder. Soft plastics, such as those from Blue Water Candy and Z-Man, have been getting bites.
Expect fishing to do nothing but improve as the water continues to warm. Over the next three weeks, start getting ready for the bluefish, false albacore, and Atlantic bonita that will be storming the beaches next month.
Guion, of Green Creek Outfitters, reports that the trout action has been decent in the creeks, and bigger fish are starting to bite thanks to warming water temperatures.
Redfish are biting in the marshes and around backwater docks, especially behind Figure 8 Island. Fishing really slow with cut shrimp on jig heads or Carolina rigs should entice a strike.
There have been some reds in the surf as well, where slowly-retrieved Gulps have brought in fish.
Black sea bass have been chewing on the wrecks and other structure close to the beach.
Bonito have been in the 7-10 mile range, and they will be moving in closer soon. Expect to start seeing cobia in the next few weeks as well.
Rick, of Living Waters Guide Service, reports that nearshore fishing is all about blues, false albacore, and sea bass in the 50-70’ range. Bonito will be moving in soon, and the blues will get thicker, along with thresher sharks, along the beach.
Further offshore, warm moving water is bringing change, as wahoo, blackfins, and sailfish are still good, but now mahi are starting to show. Jigging has been good for African pompano, amberjacks, and blackfin tuna.
The offshore bottom is holding pinkies, triggerfish, beeliners, and grunts.
Donny, of Johnnie Mercers Pier, reports that puffers, a few whiting, black drum, and a small trout have been caught recently. The blues will hopefully start showing up in the next three weeks.