Plenty of fish are being caught as the autumn season draws near and the fish begin to head south through the waters off N.C. Near-shore boats are hauling in huge amounts of Spanish mackerel and bluefish along with a few drum and the occasional flounder. Offshore boats are coming back to port well stocked with yellowfin tuna and mahi, with a few sporting the limit. Piers have been reporting large amounts of bluefish and speckled trout, while surf anglers have been hauling in mostly blues. Contact: Oregon Inlet Fishing Center 252-441-6301, www.oregon-inlet.com.
Although not many mackerel have returned yet, bluefish and few small flounder have been biting up around the point near the rocks. Offshore anglers have come back bearing pompano and sea mullet with the occasional black sea bass making the return trip as well. Contact: Red Drum Tackle 252-995-5414, www.hatteras-island.com; offshore news, Oden’s Dock 252-986-2555, www.odensdock.com; or www.hatterasharbor.com.
Typical summer fishing remains in place across the area with shore anglers hauling in Spanish mackerel and bluefish left and right. Off-shore fishing excursions have yielded lots of snapper and mackerel while those that journey near the Gulf Stream have been bringing back mahi and the occasional sailfish. Contact: Tradewinds Bait & Tackle 252-928-5491, www.fishtradewinds.com; Morris Marina 252-225-4261, www.portsmouthislandfishing.com.
Cape Lookout/Bogue Inlet
With water temps in the upper 80’s, the offshore trolling bite consists mainly of mahi, wahoo, and blackfin tuna. There are decent numbers of sailfish caught mostly on small-sized ballyhoo.Nearshore, king mackerel plentiful for live bait. All these spots are great places to jig for bottom fish like porgies, sea bass, triggerfish, grouper, and amberjacks. Along the beach, hordes of snapper-sized bluefish and spanish mackerel are chasing baitfish every day on moving tides. Specks, redfish, and flounder can be found in the local marshes, but the main bite is still coming from black drum. Contact: EJW Outdoors 252-247-4725; Portside Marina 252-726-7678; www.ncoif.com.
Fish have slowly started their long swim south, right alongside the beaches of Topsail. Excellent surf fishing has returned to the area and has been greeted by sandy-footed anglers reporting large catches of bluefish, red and black drum, smaller Spanish mackerel and even a few small flounder. On the soundside of the island, bluefish and lots of red drum have been pulled up in relatively shallow water, biting early and often on shrimp and small cutbait. Offshore fishers are returning with good numbers of large Spanish mackerel, bluefish, snapper, and the occasional king mackerel. The few boats that have braved the journey to the Gulf Stream have been rewarded with lots of snapper and mahi and the occasional swordfish that wandered into the mix as well. Contact: East Coast Discount Tackle 910-328-1887, www.eastcoastsports.com.
Wilmington/ Wrightsville Beach
Fishing has remained pretty steady as it has for the majority of the summer. Shore anglers have been reporting good catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel, while their sound-side counterparts continue to haul up drum. Off-shore journeys have returned with the ever faithful catch of spanish mackerel with a few snappers and yellowfin tuna that spice up the cooler. Contact: Tex’s Tackle 910-791-1763, www.texstackle.com.
Offshore groups have been catching black sea bass, silver and grey snappers, pinkies, vermillion snappers and a few sharp nose sharks. Anglers that have been staying closer to shore continue to report moderate success in catching bluefish and Spanish mackerel and have even catching the stray king mackerel that wandered too far inshore. Contact: Dutchman Creek Bait & Tackle 910-457-1221; www.yeahrightcharters.com; or www.oifishingcenter.com.
Fishing in the lake is starting to ramp up as the waters gradually begin to cool off. The best fishing still comes in the wee hours and in the waning sunset, when bass and catfish come up from the depths to feed in 10 to 20 feet of water on whatever they can find. However, plenty of fish can be caught in the daytime hours. Bass have been caught on Carolina rigs and soft plastic baits in the 12 to 20 foot range while the crappie continue to hang out in anywhere between 8 to 14 feet of water, nibbling at their beloved minnows. Catfish have returned to the lake but continue to lumber across the muddy bottom, staying cool and biting on any cutbait they see as they wait for Autumn to arrive. Water level: normal 251.5, Wednesday 251.8, full pool 264.8. Contact Outhouse Tackle Company 919-847-1222.; www.outhousetackle.com.
Fishing has been slow in the daytime hours, but better in the evening and morning. Crappie are biting on live minnows in anywhere between 10 and 30 feet of water, while the bass are staying deeper, between 20 and 30 feet, and biting on jigs and plastics. Water level: normal 216, Wednesday 216.7, full pool 240. Contact: Wilsonville General Store 919-362-7101; Crosswinds Marina 919-387-7011.
Fish in the lake are starting to bite a little more in the daytime, although its worth noting that morning and evening fishing is still yielding more fish. Big bass are being caught in 10 to 20 feet of water on crankbait and jigs, crappie are anywhere between 15 and 25 feet of water snatching up minnows, and the catfish that are returning to the lake are way down deep in the mud, staying cool and biting on cutbait. Water level: normal 300, Wednesday 301.9, full pool 320. Contact: Bobcat’s Bait & Tackle 434-374-8381; www.kerrlake.com.
Shearon Harris Lake
The best fishing happens in the early morning and late evening as the fish come up after the long, hot Carolina days. In the dark hours, bass and crappie have been caught in 10 to 20 feet of water. The bass are biting mostly on Carolina jigs and soft plastics, while the crappie are sticking to the ever reliable minnows. Fishing during the daytime hours moves to deeper depths, anywhere from 20 to 30 feet, with the main bait swiping culprits being the crappie and the rare small bass. Contact: The Tackle Box 919-557-8255; www.wmi.org.
(For water levels go to http://epec.saw.usace.army.mil/)