Recreational Fishing Reports
The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries interviews anglers throughout coastal areas to estimate the marine recreational fishing catch. The following regional fishing reports are updated weekly and compiled by DMF port agents as they observe and interview fishermen at access sites along the coast — more than 500 anglers are interviewed each week.
Please note: New reports are usually posted by early Monday afternoon.
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Northern District Fishing Report
For the week of Sept. 19-25
Ocean: The beginning of the autumn offered a wonderful week of billfish fishing for those fishing offshore out of Hatteras. There were great catches of sailfish, but anglers also brought in wahoo, dolphin and yellowfin and blackfin tuna. Anglers fishing the bottom in deep water caught amberjack, triggerfish and vermillion snapper. Nearshore fishing effort was low in the Hatteras area. Those fishing offshore out of Oregon Inlet caught their limits of dolphin and yellowfin tuna on most outings. They also caught wahoo, blackfin tuna, and assorted billfish. Nearshore catches consisted of plenty of bluefish and Spanish mackerel and a few little tunny (false albacore).
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing in these waters continued to improve. Anglers saw plenty of diversity in their catch in areas from Hatteras south. Red drum of all sizes were caught in high numbers, along with spotted seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and weakfish. North of the Hatteras area, anglers caught their daily bag limits of spotted seatrout, especially when they got out early in the morning. Anglers also caught bluefish, Spanish mackerel, red drum, little tunny, cobia, black seabass, pigfish, pinfish, sea mullet, croaker, flounder and gray trout.
Piers/Beach: Anglers caught moderate numbers of sea mullet, black drum, red drum, bluefish, croaker, pompano, spot, Spanish mackerel, silver perch and a mixed bag of other fish.
Central District Fishing Report
For the week of Sept. 19-25
Offshore: Wahoo fishing was very good. Many boats landed double-digit numbers of fish, and some were big enough for citations. Mixed in with the wahoo were some dolphin, blackfin tuna, and a few yellowfin tuna. Anglers landed a good number of sailfish, as well. Those fishing the bottom caught grouper, amberjack, vermilion snapper, triggerfish and black sea bass. Spanish mackerel and king mackerel were caught along Bogue Banks. Anglers who drifted live or dead bait caught the largest fish, but trolling brought in the best numbers. Little tunny (false albacore) were seen busting bait around Cape Lookout.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: The old red drum bite in the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound seemed to slow, but there were still fish to be caught. The most productive technique was to use cut bait on the bottom. Anglers caught slot-size and under-the-slot-size red drum in the marshes. Live bait consistently caught the most, but artificial bait lured its share, as well. Mixed in with the red drum were good numbers of spotted seatrout and flounder, although most of the flounder from the marshes were small. Anglers fishing at the State Port wall landed the larger flounder. Those bottom fishing in Beaufort Inlet and in the port turning basin caught bluefish, pigfish, croaker and gray trout.
Piers/Surf: Anglers fishing the surf caught red drum of all sizes, including many over-the-slot-limit fish. Those fishing at Fort Macon State Park had the most success with the red drum, although they were caught up and down the coast. Mixed with the drum were bluefish, black drum, pompano and small flounder. Anglers throwing plugs at the piers caught Spanish mackerel, bluefish and a few little tunny. The best action for pluggers came early in the morning and late in the evening.
Southern District Fishing Report
For the week of Sept. 19-25
Ocean: Offshore fishing was good. Boats caught a good amount of wahoo along with some sailfish and blackfin tunas. Bottom fishing was slow, though. Anglers caught a few red, scamp, and gag groupers, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass and a wide range of other reef fish. Closer to shore the king mackerel started biting in the river channel, as well as near the beaches of Topsail Island and Carolina Beach. The large red drum showed up along the beaches of Brunswick County. Anglers targeted them by fishing around the bait balls with large buck tails tipped with menhaden. The tarpon fishing remained excellent on the shoals off Bald Head Island.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing in these waters improved over the previous weeks as water conditions got better after the storms and rainfall. Finger mullets were really on the move and really kicked the fall fishing in gear with the flounder, drum and trout feeding heavily on them. Anglers caught some nice flounder and trout in the lower Cape Fear River and the rock jetties at Little River Inlet were the spot for large, over-the-slot red drum. Sheepshead and black drum were caught in good numbers, especially at the ADM dock in the lower Cape Fear River.
Piers/Shore: Area piers had their best week of fishing this year. Lots of Spanish mackerel, bluefish and little tunny were caught by anglers throwing plugs. Anglers caught red and black drum, along with some keeper flounder, by fishing live minnows on Carolina rigs. It was a good week for king mackerel; some of the kings weighed in the 25- to 35-pound range. There were also a few tarpon. Surf fishermen caught red and black drum, bluefish and sea mullets.