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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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

Marine Fisheries

Central District Pamlico, Craven, Carteret and Onslow Counties

Contact: Scott Smith

For the 2011 fishing year, all 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

Ocean: There will be plenty of excellent fishing opportunities onboard charter boats during the winter. The central coastal area has become home to North Carolina’s bluefin tuna fishery. Multiple hook-ups and multiple fish days are the norm rather than the exception. Other offshore species such as king mackerel, yellowfin tuna and wahoo will be available to Gulf Stream anglers. Bottom fishing for a variety of reef fish species is also excellent during the winter months. There are several headboats that operate throughout the year. Some of the best snapper and grouper catches occur during the winter, providing a quality fishing experience. Extended/overnight fishing trips are offered. Also, bluefin tuna trips have been offered in the past. Private boat anglers will enjoy many of the same opportunities as those mentioned for charter boat anglers. Near-shore bluefin tuna fishing should be excellent. Those fishing offshore will have access to excellent catches of king mackerel, snapper, grouper, and other reef fish.

Inlets/Sounds/Bays: The speckled trout fishing was a little slow this fall in the central coastal area, or they just may not have shown up yet. A good winter fishery could be in the making. Striped bass fishing in the Neuse, Pamlico, and Pungo rivers will also be a favorite. The creeks of the White Oak, New, Neuse, Bay, Pamlico and Pungo rivers will offer occasional excellent speckled trout fishing. Good catches of speckled trout were already being reported in the fall from Bay River, Campbell’s Creek, and other central area tributaries. Do a little research before going as this is a specialized fishery. You might want to consider a local guide. This will greatly improve your opportunity to get on the fish.

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.


Northern District | Central District | Southern District
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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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