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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Central District

Marine Fisheries

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Central District —
Pamlico, Craven, Carteret and Onslow Counties

Contact: Jesse.Bissette (Jesse.Bissette@ncdenr.gov)

Owners/operators of vessels recreationally fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) (Atlantic tunas, sharks, swordfish and billfish) in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, must obtain an Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling permit. This permit has replaced the Atlantic tunas Angling category permit. In North Carolina, additional HMS harvest reporting requirements are also in place. To obtain a permit go to: http://www.hmspermits.gov..

Report a tagged fish

Please Note: Anglers sometimes confuse small king mackerel with Spanish mackerel. King mackerel and Spanish mackerel have different size and catch limits. Be SURE to properly identify the mackerel you are catching. (Tips here)

A recreational Recreational Fishing License went into effect Jan. 1, 2007 for all of the state's coastal and ocean waters.

Please note: New reports are usually posted by early Monday afternoon.


Central District Fishing Report

Ocean: There will be plenty of excellent fishing opportunities onboard charter boats during the winter. The central area of the coast has become known for its Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery. Usually cold weather has an impact on when those giants show up, but this year they there were already landings in December. How long they stay around should still depend on the weather. Other offshore species, such as king mackerel, yellowfin tuna and wahoo, will be available to anglers fishing the Gulf Stream. Bottom fishing for a variety of reef fish species is also excellent during the winter months. Several head boats operate throughout the year. Some of the best snapper and grouper catches occur during the winter, providing a quality fishing experience. Extended and overnight fishing trips are offered. Also, bluefin tuna head boat trips are sometimes offered. Anglers on private boats will enjoy many of the same opportunities as those fishing on charter boats. Anglers fishing offshore will have access to excellent catches of king mackerel, snapper, grouper and other reef fish. During years with very cold temperatures, striped bass have appeared on Cape Lookout Shoals.

Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Speckled trout fishing was good this fall -- lots of small fish – and should continue to be so this winter. Striped bass fishing in the Neuse, Pamlico and Pungo rivers will also be a favorite. The upper creeks of the White Oak, New, Neuse, Bay, Pamlico and Pungo rivers will probably not offer the speckled trout fishing as in past years. Lower salinities throughout the year kept these fish to the east. However, with warm weather lingering into December, things could change. Anglers should do a little research before setting out, as creek fishing for speckled trout is a specialized skill. Anglers may want to consider using a local guide to improve fishing opportunities.

Piers/Shore: Most piers are closed for the season. Some may allow access, but catches will be limited. Shore fishing activity will be limited, as well.


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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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