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Thanks go to Fisherman's Post for this Topsail Area fishing report.
John Carothers (age 4), of Raleigh, with a red drum that went for a mud minnow beneath a popping cork. He was fishing with Capt. Chadwick Crawford of South End Anglers.
Amanda, of Surf City Pier, reports that the sea mullet are here, with one angler pulling in 45 fish in the morning hours using shrimp. Aside from the early morning, nighttime and rainy weather are also both perfect for mullet fishing.
The occasional bluefish is starting to come into the mix, while stingrays, dogfish, and puffers are still out in force.
Tyler, of Seaview Fishing Pier, reports that sea mullet are being caught mostly at night by anglers using shrimp. A few black drum and a single bluefish have come in on shrimp as well, while quite a few puffers are hanging around the pier.
Chris, of East Coast Sports, reports that both the red drum and speckled trout bite is on fire inshore, with cut shrimp accounting for most of the action. If the fish are on the surface, lures like the Zara Spook are working wonders, and you might also pull in a citation bluefish.
Surf anglers are seeing a few black drum and a handful of sea mullet, Both should start to show up in greater numbers over the next few weeks. Fishing bloodworms or cut shrimp on the bottom will be your best bet.
Sea bass are being caught within four miles of shore, and they’re biting mostly squid on bottom rigs and Ringtail lures.
Out around the 18 mile range, bonito and false albacore are starting to show, with anglers having the best luck when casting Big Nic Spanish Candies to breaking fish.
Assorted bottom fish are hugging the bottom in the same range, with cigar minnows accounting for most of the fish.
Fishing Reports from local Charter Chapters.
Cigar minnows, when trolled, are catching kings out 25+ miles. Once the water temperature goes up a few more degrees, expect the offshore bite to pick up even more.
Mike, of Native Son, reports that swings in the weather are making fishing unpredictable. For the most part, red drum are still in their bigger, early season schools, but those schools are starting to break up. The reds can be found under docks and in the marshes, mostly in places out of the way where they have some thermal protection (slower current flows and darker bottoms especially). Most of these places are still covered in “snot grass,” so use Z-Man PaddlerZ rigged weedless with no weight and retrieve at the surface (or just below).
Speckled trout are still around and seem to have survived the freeze fairly well. MirrOdines and soft plastics are both producing on the specks, but if the water temperature is above 60 degrees in the morning, try throwing topwater baits.
The bonito are arriving, but if the wind doesn’t stop blowing, don’t expect them to bite in big numbers. The bonito action should begin to pick up over the next couple of weeks, and bigger spanish mackerel should come in behind the bonito.
Chadwick, of South End Anglers, reports that reds are being caught around docks, near oyster beds, and in inland creeks. Live and cut bait, in addition to soft plastics on Fathom inshore jig heads, will work for the reds.
Trout are in the creeks and can be fooled with MirrOlures and Fathom jigs, as well as Z-Man Trout Tricks.
Bluefish are beginning to show up inshore and can be caught with the same baits used to target the red drum and trout. The black drum are in marinas, canals, and around rocks and oyster beds.
Black sea bass and tautogs are hugging the bottom nearshore. Metal jigs and squid baits on chicken rigs will bring them in. A few bonito have also been caught, and their numbers will continue to grow over the next week or two. Casting Epoxy jigs, Stingsilvers, and Jigfish will work, as will trolling Bomber Long A lures and Yo-Zuri Deep Divers.
Tautogs can vary in color, but the shape is unique.The tautog or blackfish, Tautoga onitis, is a species of wrasse native to the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. This species inhabits hard substrate habitats in nearshore waters at depths from 1 to 75 m.Wikipedia
Found close to shore on hard-bottom habitats, occasionally entering brackish water. Adult male territorial and active during the day to feed and rests in crevices at night. Prefers temperatures above 10°C. Spawning was noted in June-July in Canadian waters, but appears more protracted (April-July) in coastal waters of Virginia, USA. Feeds mainly on mussels, gastropods, other mollusks and crustaceans. This species has gained popularity as a prized food and sport fish
Ray, of Spring Tide Guide Service, reports that black and red drum fishing is where the action is. The drum are hanging on the flats behind the inlets and in the backs of local creeks, where anglers can find some relief from the high winds that have been blowing through the area. Look for a fast moving tide, and use shrimp on Carolina rigs or Bass Assassin’s Chicken on a Chain soft plastics with Menhaden Pro-Cure to fool the fish. At times, sizing down to a very light jig head has made the difference.
Speckled trout have been found in similar areas using the same baits.
Over the next few weeks, look for bonito to start moving closer to shore.
Marc, of Bad Habit Sportfishing, reports that bonito fishing has been slowly picking up as the fish move closer to shore. The 35-70’ water depth has been the best for the bonito, where trolling Clarkspoons, Drone spoons, and pink Yo-Zuri Deep Divers has worked well. Don’t be surprised to come across some bluefish while targeting the bonito, a bite which will only get better over the next few weeks.
Sea bass are biting strong, though you have to go through a lot of smaller fish to find the keepers. The sea bass are falling for standard bottom rigs (such as diamond jigs), though 1.5 oz. Stingsilvers have been producing, especially when tipped with squid.
Wahoo are hitting trolled ballyhoo and hard baits like the Braid Marauder or any Yo-Zuri plug. A few blackfins have been caught, and all signs are pointing to a strong presence of mahi very soon.
Jim, of Plan 9 Charters, reports that black and red drum (some over-slot) have been falling to cut shrimp fished around docks.
The water is warming up, though it’s not quite where it needs to be for the bonito that are slowly trickling in. A few bonito have been caught within 5 miles, along with some false albacore and bluefish. Vertical jigging and casting jigs are both working for all three species.
Nearshore reefs are holding tautog, sheepshead, and black sea bass, which are all biting fiddler crabs. Bigger sea bass and grunts are being caught in depths of 70-90’, with squid and jigs working well for both.
Responses from the survey will help fisheries biologists gain valuable information that will improve aquatic habitat enhancement programs in reservoirs in North Carolina and across the Southeast. Since 2016, Commission staff have installed nearly 500 natural and artificial structures in public reservoirs throughout the state, as well as established aquatic vegetation in 10 reservoirs.
Anglers from across the Southeast are being asked to participate in the survey, which was developed by SDAFS’s Reservoir Technical Committee. Committee members are interested in opinions from anglers who fish mainly in reservoirs, according to Lawrence Dorsey, the Commission’s District 6 fisheries biologist and chairman of the committee.
“The survey should take no more than 15 minutes and is completely anonymous,” Dorsey said. “All of the information compiled from the survey will be analyzed and reported back to state fisheries and wildlife agencies across the Southeast and beyond.”
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has certified a new state record bluefin tuna.
Retired Army General Scott Chambers of Townsend, Delaware, reeled in the 877-pound fish March 17 after fighting with the fish for 2 ½ hours off Oregon Inlet. It measured 113 inches curved fork length (tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the nose to the fork in the tail) and had a girth of 79 inches.
He caught the fish using trolling dead bait on 130 pound line test on a 130 Shimano rod and reel aboard the charter boat A-Salt Weapon fishing out of Pirates Cove Marina in Manteo.
Chambers’ fish broke the former state record bluefin tuna by 72 pounds. That fish was caught off Oregon Inlet, as well, in 2011. The world all-tackle record bluefin tuna was 1,496 pounds and was caught off Nova Scotia in 1979.
For more information, contact Carole Willis, with the North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Tournament, at 252-808-8081 or email@example.com.