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.
View more pages on your mobile device here.
Northern District Fishing Report
For the week of July 18-24
Ocean: Once again, offshore anglers had excellent fishing results on most trips. Those fishing offshore out of Hatteras caught their limits of bailer dolphin along with a few gaffersl. Wahoo, blackfin tuna, Atlantic bonito, little tunny and skipjack tuna were caught moderate numbers, as well. Billfish releases were mostly sailfish, but there were a few scattered marlin. Bottom fishing continued to be consistent. Catches included triggerfish, tilefish, amber & almaco jack, yellowedge grouper and blackbelly rosefish. Nearshore anglers caught plenty of spotted seatrout and weakfish on most trips. Moderate numbers of bluefish, Spanish mackerel and red drum were also caught. Those fishing offshore out of Oregon Inlet caught some large yellowfin tuna (most in excess of 50 pounds) on a daily basis. Dolphin, blackfin tuna, bigeye tuna and a few citation-size wahoo were also caught. Billfish catch and release action was almost exclusively white marlin. Nearshore anglers out of Oregon Inlet were almost guaranteed to catch bluefish and Spanish mackerel. They also caught a few cobia, amberjack, red drum, king mackerel, cutlassfish and undersize striped bass.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing effort out of Hatteras in inside waters was slow because fishing was much better in the nearshore ocean. Anglers did catch a few spotted seatrout and weakfish. Sound fishing in the northern area was a bit better. Flounder fisherman caught plenty of keepers, and citation-size fish were commonplace. The best catches came from shallow water areas near barrier islands. Anglers also caught puffer, weakfish, kingfish, pinfish, pigfish, black seabass, striped bass, lizardfish, spot, searobin, croaker and kingfish.
Piers/Beach: Pier fishing this time of the year can be slow and uneventful, and this was the case from north to south along the Outer Banks. The more southern beach catches included a few croaker, bluefish, kingfish, flounder and pompano. Those fishing the more northern beaches caught about the same. There were a few short-term bluefish blitzes, but they were rare.
Central District Fishing Report
For the week of July 18-24
Ocean: Wahoo fishing definitely picked up, and a good percentage of the offshore fleet came back with double-digit numbers of fish, including some citation-sized fish. A handful of dolphin and blackfin tuna were landed, as well. A few anglers managed to land some sailfish. Those fishing the bottom had good catches of grouper, amberjack, triggerfish, black sea bass and vermilion snapper. Large Spanish mackerel made a good showing for anglers drifting live bait over the artificial reefs, but mixed in with the Spanish were a bunch of undersized king mackerel.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Red drum were the primary fish landed. Area marshes held good numbers of undersized reds, along with some slot-sized fish. The best bait was live mullet, but soft plastics and top water lures enticed the fish, as well. Spotted seatrout and flounder were taken in decent numbers in some areas. Anglers bottom fishing in the state port turning basin and the Newport River saw good catches of pufferfish, pigfish and a few sea mullet. Those sheepshead fishing had good luck using fiddler crabs and sea urchins along the port wall and area bridges.
Piers/Surf: A small number of blues and Spanish were caught by anglers throwing plugs, but anglers had to be there early in the morning or late in the evening to get them. Those fishing with live mullet on the pier ends caught a few citation-sized Spanish. Those fishing the bottom caught a variety of fish.
Southern District Fishing Report
For the week of July 18-24
Ocean: Two large swordfish brought into Ocean Isle. One weighed around 250 pounds, and the other weighed more than 400 pounds. A 66-pound king mackerel weighed in there as well. The wahoo bite picked up, and a few boats caught some fish. Anglers targeting reef fish did better than previous weeks; boats brought in some large red, scamp and gag groupers, along with some big hogfish and bag limits of vermilion snapper. Closer to shore, anglers targeting king mackerel did better than in previous weeks, as well. They caught some nice kings in the 80-foot range, along with some cobia. Nearshore reefs started to yield some nice flounder, too, as well as gray trout and large, over-the-slot limit red drum.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing improved over previous weeks. Anglers brought in good numbers of black drum and sheepshead. The ADM dock, the rock wall at Fort Fisher, and the Sunset beach bridge have been the hot spots of late. Anglers also caught trout in the lower Cape Fear River. Flounder fishing was slow, but anglers caught some keepers throughout the area. The biggest fish came from the Cape Fear River and Snow's Cut. Anglers targeting tarpon still had luck at the point of Baldhead Island and, at night, behind Battery Island.
Piers/Shore: Pier fishermen saw typical summertime catches of sea mullets, pompano, black and red drum, some nice sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Anglers caught a few king mackerel and tarpon off the ends of the piers, as well. Surf fishermen caught much the same. Those surf fishing with mole crabs caught some nice pompano and black and red drum. Some really big sharks and even some tarpon were landed from the surf as well.