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Ed, of Surf City Pier, reports that black drum fishing has been going well, with anglers catching 2-6 lb. fish using bottom rigs tipped with shrimp and sand fleas. At night, some red drum have been landed with these same baits, along with mud minnows, finger mullet, and cut bait.
Some keeper flounder are being caught using live finger mullet on Carolina rigs.
Virginia mullet, as well as pompano, have been biting shrimp fished on double-drop rigs.
Spanish mackerel and bluefish have been hooked off the end of the pier when throwing Gotcha plugs.
Tarpon are still in the area and can be seen moving by the pier.
Capt. Will Bridges, of Jamaican Me Crazy Fishing Charters, with a red grouper that fell for a cigar minnow in 100′ of water.
Chris, of East Coast Sports, reports that red drum are biting well inshore around oyster beds and grass lines, especially when adjacent to deeper channels. Soft plastics (such as offerings from Saltwater Assassin) and shiny-colored spoons are the best offerings, and these tactics are also producing a few trout.
Anglers targeting flounder are having the most success fishing in deeper channels along the inlets. Bucktails, soft plastics, and live bait on Carolina rigs have all been producing fish.
Ladyfish can still be found under lit docks and under Topsail area bridges.
Those fishing from the pier and in the surf are catching good numbers of sea mullet for this time of year. The best bet is tossing a double-drop rig tipped with sand fleas or shrimp. This same method has also been landing pompano.
There have been some 40”+ red drum being caught in the surf by those targeting them late into the night. These fish will strike a live bait, but most will go for a big chunk of cut bait soaked on a Carolina rig.
Nearshore, spanish mackerel have been falling for gold-colored #00 Clarkspoons trolled behind #1 and #2 planers just outside the inlet. The spanish can be caught throughout the day, but early mornings have been producing the most fish. Spanish have also been caught by casting epoxy and diamond jigs to schools of feeding fish. Mixed in with the spanish have been bluefish and schoolie-sized king mackerel.
Offshore, triggerfish have been caught using drop rigs tipped with cut bait or squid. Gag grouper have been falling for live bait and cigar minnows in 70-100’ of water. Further out (40+ miles), red and scamp grouper can be caught with these same baits.
Matt Gentry with a 32” red drum that went for a piece of cut pinfish near Rich’s Inlet.
Wahoo are starting to show up in the Gulf Stream. The best tactic is high speed trolling with skirted ballyhoo and various trolling lures. This method will also attract sailfish and blackfin tuna.
Mike, of Native Son Guide Service, reports that flounder fishing off the beach has been good. Bigger flatfish have come on artificials, for example a 2 oz. Spro bucktail paired with a Z-Man plastic trailer.
Inshore, there are lots of short flounder, but there are some bigger fish mixed in. Finding the concentration of bait is key, as the bigger fish should be nearby waiting to ambush. Docks and other structure in the deeper water seem to be holding the better-sized flatfish right now.
Small cobia are also being caught inshore, providing catch and release fun.
The spanish are just off the beach, but the bigger fish are coming in 40-45’ of water. There are lots of small kings around, too.
The red drum fishing is improving. The reds are starting to group back up into schools, but the larger ones tend to still be lone hunters. As the mullet thicken up, the size and numbers of the schools of red drum will grow.
For now, throw topwater lures early in the morning (Rapala Skitterwalks), and then bait fish or throw soft plastics or spoons during the day.