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 Aug. 15-21
Ocean: Anglers fishing offshore out of Ocracoke and Hatteras had the best wahoo catches in quite a while. Plenty of citation-size fish hit the docks along with limits of bailer dolphin. A few yellowfin and blackfin tuna were caught, as well. Billfish catch and release action picked up. Most reports were of sailfish, but there were a few blue and white marlin. Blueline tilefish dominated bottom fishing. Closer to shore, anglers kept busy reeling in their bag limits of bluefish and Spanish mackerel, as well as good numbers of over-the-slot limit red drum. Those fishing on charter vessels out of Oregon Inlet caught their limits of dolphin along with black seabass, blueline tilefish and tunas. Anglers targeting billfish saw an increase in "grand slam" catches of sailfish, and blue and white marlin were almost routine. Nearshore anglers caught citation-size spotted seatrout regularly. Cobia catches made a resurgence, along with a few little tunny and amberjack.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing activity in these waters was low. Most anglers were fishing around the inlets. Catches have been diverse. Most noteworthy: Those fishing around Oregon Inlet caught flounder, and the ratio of keepers to discards has improved along with the number of catches. Anglers also caught spadefish, weakfish, spotted seatrout, black seabass, croaker, puffer, kingfish, pinfish, pigfish and cutlassfish.
Piers/Shore: Fishing activity and catch improved after a slow time over the past several weeks. Those fishing from the southern area beaches caught big pompano in the backwash of the surf zone using sand fleas for bait. Moderate numbers of puffers and sea mullet were also taken. Those lucky enough to be there at the right time experienced good bluefish and Spanish mackerel catches. The big news on the piers and beaches last week was the arrival of the “big spot”. They were taken in good numbers by many anglers.
Central District Fishing Report
For the week of Aug. 22-28
Ocean: Anglers fishing offshore did fairly well with the wahoo, especially around the Swansboro Hole. Some dolphin and blackfin tuna were caught, as well. Anglers targeting billfish landed a few. Those fishing the bottom offshore saw good numbers of white grunt, vermilion snapper, triggerfish and grouper. Spanish mackerel fishing picked up for those trolling the beaches and casting to schooling fish. Anglers drifting live bait over the artificial reefs had good success with citation-size Spanish. Those using jigs and live bait on a Carolina rig and fishing those same reefs caught a few keeper flounder.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: The large red drum bite in the Neuse River and lower Pamlico Sound has steadily improved. Anglers fishing cut bait around ledges and steep drop-offs saw the most consistent catches, but those popping corks fished around schools of bait had good results, as well. Slot-sized catches of red drum declined in the river, but anglers were able to bring a few back to the dock. Morehead City and Beaufort area marshes held good numbers of red drum, too. Other recreational catches consisted of flounder and spotted seatrout. Anglers bottom fishing in the State Port turning basin landed pufferfish, pigfish and a small number of sea mullet. Sheepshead were caught in good numbers by those fishing the area bridges and the port wall. Fishing in western Pamlico Sound improved a bit last. Anglers caught good numbers of under-sized red drum while fishing for spotted seatrout and flounder.
Piers/Shore: Those fishing the surf and piers caught red drum, some keepers and some over-the-slot limit. Anglers throwing plugs had better success with Spanish mackerel than in previous weeks, but the action still wasn't fast. Pluggers also landed a few blues. Anglers bottom fishing on the piers caught a mixed bag of croaker, pompano, crevalle jack, bluefish, stingrays and sharks.
Southern District Fishing Report
For the week of Aug. 15-21
Ocean: Those fishing offshore brought in a few wahoo, along with some blackfin tuna and dolphin. Boats targeting bottom fish found red, scamp and gag groupers and a wide assortment of reef fish such as vermilion snapper, red porgies, white grunts and gray triggerfish. Closer to shore, anglers targeting king mackerel did better than the previous week. The best catches came in the 10- to 20-mile range. They also caught a good number of slinger dolphin. Fishing nearshore reefs yielded flounder, over-the-slot limit red drum, Spanish mackerel and spadefish.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing didn’t change much from previous weeks, as water temperatures hovered around 85 degrees. Anglers caught red and black drum, spotted seatrout and flounder, but not real big numbers. The best places to catch them continued to be the Little River Rock Jetty, the creeks and bays in lower Brunswick County and the Cape Fear River from Southport to downtown Wilmington. Anglers caught sheepshead around area docks, rock jetties and bridges and tarpon on the shoals off Baldhead Island.
Piers/Shore: Those fishing on piers saw typical catches for late summer, including black and red drum, bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Anglers also took some nice flounder and sheepshead off area piers. An angler landed a 39-pound king mackerel off the Kure beach pier. Shore-based anglers are catching much the same with better numbers of black and red drum coming out the surf than on the piers.