Ocean Isle/Holden Beach – March 19, 2020
Jeff, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that winter and early spring fishing trips have been successful, especially when looking for speckled trout. There have been no signs of a winter kill, and the number of specks in the inshore waters has been staggering.
There are plenty of small shrimp and menhaden in the creeks, and Virginia mullet should be showing up soon.
Sheepshead fishing under area bridges has also been productive.
Brant, of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, reports that sea bass have been around, with most of the keepers coming from the 60-90’ depth range. Offshore in the 100’+ range has been good for snappers and triggerfish.
The Stream, Black Jack, and 100/400 are showing signs of life, as wahoo are beginning to make a presence, along with some blackfin tuna.
It’s still early in the season for most of these fisheries; however, the pelagics are starting to blossom, and signs are good for the coming spring and summer.
Bluefish are beginning to show up around the inlets, and spanish mackerel will be joining them once water temperatures hit the 66 degree mark (which won’t be long).
King mackerel are not far off either, as there are large numbers of school-sized kings holding in the 80-90’ depth range. The kings will move into the depths of 50-65’ in the next month, if the weather stays warm.
Tripp, of Capt’n Hook Outdoors, reports that inshore the redfish and black drum bite is great, with most fish being caught on fresh shrimp on jig heads or Carolina rigs. The majority of the drum are being caught around docks and structure near low tide, but the reds can also be found in the shallow water creeks.
The trout bite has slowed tremendously, but the action should pick back up as the temperatures increase.
Sheepshead are chewing good around docks and bridges on live fiddler crabs and barnacles.
Offshore, the wahoo bite is decent on the break. Most of the wahoo are being caught on ballyhoo trolled behind dark colored skirts.
As for bottom fishing, black sea bass are in closer (in the 65’ range), and anglers are regularly pulling up some keepers.
Kevin, of Rigged & Ready Charters, reports that slot reds are being caught on mud minnows and cut shrimp along ICW docks, with the best docks to fish being those close to a creek mouth on a falling tide. Oyster bars are also a great place to start looking, and artificial baits like Gulp shrimp or Bass Assassins will produce. The same artificials will help connect with trout in the creeks as well.
Whiting are in the Cape Fear River mouth. Fish on a falling tide with cut shrimp to take advantage of the bite.
Black sea bass are in the 45-65′ range offshore, mixed with bluefish and the occasional bull drum. The fish are falling for cut baits on two-drop rigs or strip baits on a 2 oz. bucktail.
Kings are readily biting around Frying Pan Tower, as long as water temps are between 65 and 70 degrees. Slow-trolled cigar minnows work great, as do Drone spoons and Sea Witches.
Bottom fishing in the same area has been productive.
The wahoo bite continues to be strong and should really heat up in the next month. Big blackfin tuna should be all over the Steeples as well. Ballyhoo trolled on Sea Witches and small trolling feathers will produce.
Tim, of Tideline Charters, reports that anglers have been finding the usual black drum on shrimp around docks, but the trout bite has been kind of slow. The current trout action has seen most fish caught on Z-Man Trout Tricks (the mood ring color has been best) when the tides have been in our favor (high falling tide).
There’s still a good red drum bite around, and the best tactic has been targeting exposed oysters at low tide. Live or dead shrimp fished on the bottom has produced the most bites.
Looking forward to the end of March and into April, the big trout will start to show back up, as well as better numbers of slot redfish.
Cecil, of Rod & Reel Shop, reports that anglers have been finding good numbers of trout in the canals and backwaters, and fishing has been pretty decent for red drum on artificials and black drum on bait shrimp.
Redfish have been biting as long as you can get to them in shallow water on a rising tide. Mud minnows and bright plastics (like electric chicken) have been working when fished very slowly on the bottom. As water temperatures continue to rise, the reds should start getting a little more active. Flounder will also start to enter the mix.
Jerry, of Ocean Isle Beach Fishing Pier, reports that there have been whiting, blowfish, and a few small flounder brought in over the rails.