Northern Beaches – March 19, 2020
Betty, of TW’s Bait and Tackle, reports that surf fishing has been most successful on the southern Hatteras beaches. Sea mullet are being caught on bottom rigs tipped with shrimp, and most of the action has been from Ramp 55 down through Frisco.
Puppy drum are in this same area, with catches mixed in for those bottom fishing.
Anglers fishing Carolina-rigged cut baits are landing some good-sized dogfish sharks around Hatteras, and scattered bluefish have been brought in around Buxton on bait shrimp.
As with most cold-weather months, fishing bottom-rigged baits will be most productive in the foreseeable future.
Nearshore anglers have been reporting black sea bass while bottom fishing local structure.
Anglers are waiting on the arrival of bluefish pushing back onto the beaches. These aggressive feeders will be hitting Clarkspoons and casting jigs around nearshore wrecks.
Another spring fishery is the citation-class red drum that usually arrive in early spring. Sight casting large bucktails with soft plastic trailers to these cruising schools is a local favorite.
Offshore fishing has seen some very good numbers of yellowfin tuna for anglers out of Oregon Inlet. Trolling skirted ballyhoo has produced double digit numbers of fish, and the bite is only just beginning this season.
A few wahoo and keeper bluefin tuna (up to 61”) are mixed in the offshore counts.
Bridgette, of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, reports that the spring tuna bite has turned on, and the bite is red hot. Boats are coming back to the docks with double-digits of good-sized yellowfins. This bite just picked up in the past week, and it is a hopeful sign for the next month or so of action.
A few bluefins are mixed in the counts, with a couple of keeper fish and larger (to estimated 400 lbs.) being released in the same areas.
Wahoo are also hitting the skirted offerings, with the scattered bite being a welcome surprise.
This week saw a blue marlin released.
Laurie, of Pirate’s Cove Marina, reports that tuna fishing is great right now. Many trips returned with limits of yellowfin tuna.
Large catch and release bluefin tuna are mixed in the reports. Captains are saying a few keepers are still around, but it’s the large ones taking the baits.
Blackfin tuna are hitting the trolled ballyhoo, though their numbers are more scattered than the other species.
Aaron, of Carolina Sunrise Charters, reports that the mild winter is setting this spring up for a fantastic speckled trout season. The early action will start off with the more successful efforts coming in the shallow creeks and bays where the water warms up quicker and begins to hold bait. Popping corks rigs with soft plastics on 1/8 and 1/4 oz. jig heads will be the go-to setup. Using an 18” fluorocarbon leader is also an important key in getting these early season fish to bite. The favorite baits have been Z-Man and Bass Assassin’s versions of jerk shads and paddle baits.
Puppy drum will also be around in the shallows, staging themselves down tide of any food source. Baitfish and blue crabs are their favorites this time of year.
As spring progresses, anglers will begin targeting over-slot and citation-class red drum. Popular methods include bottom fishing with larger cut baits and sight-casting. Anglers will be working the shallow sandbars with spoons and 2 oz. white bucktails. It is key to keep an eye around you as not to spook the fish. This allows you and others in the area to enjoy this amazing experience without interruption to the fish’s patterns.
Later in the spring sees the return of large cobia to the area. Sight-casting for these great fish is very much an angler’s favorite. Usually this bite begins mid to late April.
Fishing Unlimited hasn’t yet reopened for the season.
Nags Head Pier will re-open in April.
Justin, of Avalon Pier, reports that a few shad have been caught by anglers fishing bottom rigs.
Over the next couple weeks, anglers anticipate seeing the sea mullet show up. There are reports of fish being caught south of the area, and it usually isn’t long after to see more local catches.
Bluefish should be arriving shortly with the spring weather settling in. Bottom-rigged cut baits will be most productive with this first wave of fish.
Puppy drum are mostly being reported on the southern beaches, but as with the other species, anglers should see their arrival in the coming weeks.
A great milestone for the area is the 60 degree ocean temperature. This tends to have one of the biggest shifts in the local bite.
Jeff, of Albemarle Fishing Charters, reports that striped bass fishing has been great in areas around the Albemarle Sound. These fish have begun their push into mainland rivers to spawn and are staged around structured areas with 5-10’ water depths. Trolling has been productive in locating the schools, with Rapala Husky jerk baits being a local favorite.
Anglers choosing to cast to structured shorelines are having success using Rat-L-Traps and soft plastics in the 5’ depth range. Targeting areas in the deeper 8-10’ depths has been most productive for trolling.
With the area’s rivers mostly being brackish water, local weather patterns can quickly adjust salinity. Anglers are not shocked but pleased to find catches such as a stray speckled trout upriver.
Over the next few weeks, anglers anticipate the striped bass bite staying strong through the area. A huge perk to fishing the Albemarle Sound this time of year is the regulations that allow anglers to keep large fish (over 18”) and avoid the sometimes confusing slot-size regulations.