Southern District Fishing Report —
Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick Counties
Contact: Dennis Trowell (Dennis.Trowell@ncdenr.gov)
Winter of 2016-17
Ocean: Offshore fishing can be fantastic during the winter months. Bluewater trolling for wahoo can be very good, and vertical jigging and top water fishing for blackfin tuna is outstanding when weather conditions allow. African pompano and good numbers of cobia will bite on jigs, as well. King mackerel fishing can be outstanding around Frying Pan Tower. Anglers should look for king mackerel in water temperatures around 67 degrees Fahrenheit and warmer. Bottom fishing for black sea bass, groupers and other various reef fish is good in the winter months.
Inlets/sounds/Bays: As the water temperature falls, things begin to slow down a little. Most anglers target trout and drum in the winter. Most of the trout action will take place around 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 fishing is 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.
For the fishing year, all owners/operators of vessels recreationally fishing for and/or retaining regulated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (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 Angling permit. This permit has replaced the Atlantic tunas Angling category permit. In North Carolina, additional Highly Migratory Species harvest reporting requirements are also in place. To obtain a permit go to: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/compliance/permits_reporting/index.html
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 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.