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
Ocean: Winter anglers catch plenty of yellowfin tuna, when conditions permit, along with a few wahoo making for some good offshore action. Offshore bottom fishing can be excellent, as well. Midrange anglers target striped bass, if they migrate to North Carolina waters, and red drum fishing can be very good during warmer periods. Find a regional fishing website that reports daily catches or contact a local tackle shop for up-to-date fishing reports.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: When weather permits, activity will be heavy with anglers targeting striped bass. They are often found throughout the Roanoke, Croatan and northern Pamlico sounds, especially near bridges or any other structure. There will also be some good winter catches of spotted seatrout and red drum. Good places to try include around the barrier islands, Roanoke Sound and Oregon Inlet's Green Island Slough from pre-dawn to mid-morning hours, and again just before dark.
Piers/Beaches: Piers are currently closed. Most will re-open around Easter. Beach anglers may have a tough time fishing this time of year due to rough surf and adverse weather, but when conditions permit, some of the largest red drum and striped bass are taken from the surf in the winter. Bluefish blitzes can happen this time of year, as well, and offer anglers some short-term active fishing. Don’t forget about the possibility of some excellent speckled trout surf fishing on the beaches from Rodanthe southward.
Central District Fishing Report
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. It all depends on when the fish show up. 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 headboat trips have been offered in the past. Anglers on private boats 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. During years with very cold temperatures, striped bass have appeared on the shoals.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: The speckled trout fishing was very good this fall in upper estuarine areas of the central zone, which is a means 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 New River, 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 using 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.
Southern District Fishing Report
Ocean: Offshore fishing can be fantastic during the winter months. Blue water trolling for wahoos can be very good, and vertical jigging and top water fishing for blackfin tunas is outstanding when weather conditions allow. African pompano and good numbers of cobia will fall for jigs, as well. King mackerel fishing can be outstanding around Frying Pan Tower. Look for the kings in water temperatures around 67 degrees and warmer. Bottom fishing for black sea bass, groupers and other various reef fish is very good in the winter months.
Inlets/sounds/Bays: As the water temperature falls, things begin to slow down somewhat. Most anglers will be targeting trout and drum, and most of the trout action will take place around the Masonboro and Little River rock jetties. Those targeting red drum will find the bays and creeks behind Bald Head Island productive. Also, the striped bass fishery in the Cape Fear River heats up during the winter months. The most productive striped bass fishing occurs around downtown Wilmington.
Piers/Shore: Shore mode fishing will be very limited in the winter months. Most piers close after Thanksgiving weekend and do not reopen until March. For those that do stay open, catches likely will be limited to puffers, skates, and dog sharks. Fishing for puffers can be very good on piers during the winter months.
|N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632 |