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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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

Marine Fisheries

Southern District Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick Counties

Contact: Dennis Trowell

For the 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. Make SURE you 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.

Click here for the latest seasons, size and bag limits. 

Please note: New reports are usually posted by early Monday afternoon.


Southern District:

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.


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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