In business since 1967, Freeman's Discount Bait & Tackle is Atlantic Beach's oldest and best established bait and
tackle shop. We're located on the left just before the Atlantic Beach light, the closest tackle shop to the Oceanana Pier.
NC Coastal Fishing License

Over 1900 square feet of retail space, Freeman's offers the largest selection of Shimano and Penn reels, Custom Key
Largo rods and Shakespear Ugly Stik rods. Inshore and offshore tackle by Iland Lure, Blue Water Candy, Sea Striker,
Berkley Gulp and many hard to find items. Fresh, frozen, live and artificial baits, along with in house rod and reel
Our experienced staff is always on hand to offer free advice and friendly service.
Look for the BLUE bait shop, Freeman's Discount Bait & Tackle, for all your fishing needs.


March 14, 2017

This has been a very nontraditional 2017 "spring into springtime", as far as our local fishing is concerned.  It's been nontraditional in a very positive way! The water temp last week was at 66 degrees inshore, it has now dropped to 58 degrees, and the bite has not really slowed down at all.

Many anglers have been absolutely laying the "Pepper" down on the Speckled Trout. Z man Jerk Shads, classic Carolina Curly Tails, Mr17s, Mr18s, and Berkley Gulp scented soft plastics in the 4 inch Natural and Molten colors have been the select baits for these beautiful "Speckled-Peppersnakes". There have been some really nice Specks being taken all throughout the ICW. Look for some structure for these fish to relate to, or else find some small bait fish. If you don't get a bite after your first 10 casts, switch baits, ten more, switch baits again, ten more without a bite, then move spots. Lots of these larger Specks have actually been mingling with some big Gray Trout as well. Some big Gray Trout have already shown up at the AB bridge, anglers have been catching them jigging stingsilvers. The Port wall has some nice Gray Trout on it as well. Flounder have been taken at many of the Artificial Reefs jigging bucktails, if you can find some live mullet, you could really put a hurting on them. The Red Drum are schooled up on the beaches, and there have been some schools of the BIG GROWN ONES off of the cape, and Shark Island. Look for them on your electronics and drop a white bucktail tipped with a gulp shrimp. If you see birds busting on the surface near the shoals, it is very likely the monster reds feeding up top so make sure to haul your tush over to them and cast to the birds. Slot drum are hanging around nearshore structures like rock jetties, and long shoaly places like the cape. Sea Mullet are here already, anglers are catching limits of them in the turning basin/shipping channel areas with speck rigs tipped with some shrimp. Black Drum have been roaming the beaches, and someone caught a really nice one yesterday that he snagged in the back while using a storm swim shad targeting Red Drum. This tells you that they are in very tight schools, so when you find one there will likely be many more in the same spot.  We have already been seeing small Sheepshead loitering around dock
pilings, they are not the big adults, but can be fun for the kids, and the little ones still love a two hook bottom rig with shrimp. Bluefish have arrived as well. While Trout fishing this week, also had an encounter with an absolute chopper, and got it in close enough to identify that it was a monster bluefish just before his razor sharp teeth sawed through a 20lb fluoro leader. So its not too early to keep your lookout for some big chopper bluefish. No Spanish yet, which shouldn't surprise anyone. A few small rat King Mackerel have been hanging out nearshore, as well as the always abundant Amberjack.

The Swordfish bite has remained consistently good, anglers in search of them are still getting bites (seemingly on almost every outing). There have been a few billfish roaming around the Big Rock-Swansboro Hole areas, mostly Sailfish. The Wahoo fishing has actually been pretty good as of lately.  We have not heard of anymore catches of Dolphin, but you just never really know. There are still some Blackfins being caught as well. Bottom fishing for Beeliners and Triggerfish has been good. There have been a few stray random catches while Swordfishing, like the elusive Escolar. These fish are supposedly great eating, but be sure to only eat a small amount!

There are tight pods of albacores running the beaches between Beaufort Inlet and Bear Inlet, anywhere from the 2-6 miles range off of the beachfront. These albies are in smaller packs than in the fall, but they are also a larger size-class. If you tie a small fly (resembling the smallest glass minnow you've ever seen) these fish will
react to it, and sizzle some drag off of your fly reel. Another fishery that is here right now is fly fishing the shoals of Shark Island for Bull Drum. You will want to have a sinking head fly line for these bruisers, and use your electronics to find them. They are schooled up lower in the water column most of the day (suspended in the 20-40 ft range).
You can provoke a strike on the fly from one of these monster Redfish with an oversized deceiver (baitfish) pattern. You will want to let your fly sink down with your weighted line for about 30-45 seconds (when you are marking the fish). After that a strip-set cadence will be needed. A strip-set retrieve cadence is one where every time you strip your fly line in, you are trying to set the hook. Otherwise when you do get that big strike, the fish will likely just spit out your fly. With a strip-set cadence, you know that you will be able to penetrate a big Drum's fleshy mouth. Speckled Trout are being taken on small-medium sized weighted (lead wrapped flies), mostly deceivers or clouser minnows on a floating line. The best way to get the Specks to eat a fly is to drop your fly to where you think the fish are (use the current to drift your fly back to them). Then after that, just slowly jiggle the tip of your fly rod. The Specks still aren't super active yet so the slower the better. Fly patterns tied in the size and color pattern of a live mud minnow can be absolutely deadly right now.

As always, Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait and Tackle!

February 27, 2017

With spring flowers, and rising water temperatures, it’s time to go fishing!

Inshore: We are now starting to see our annual run of Sea Mullet showing up in the turning basin, surprisingly early, along with smaller sized Gray Trout. Two hook bottom rigs and shrimp is all you need for this type of fishing. Some of the bigger Sea Mullet will be schooled up along the beach. We’ve heard a very unusual report of keeper specks being caught on curly tail grubs off of the port wall. The Black Drum will be roaming the beach as well in similar locations as the Sea Mullet. Red Drum fishing is picking up as well. Some of the small Creek Mouths off of Core Creek are holding some slot fish. 4" Natural colored gulp and a 1/4 plain lead head jig worked as slowly as possible will get more bites than anything else at this time of the year. Down East locations like Smyrna Creek are holding some of the biggest Speckled Trout, we’ve heard of a 7lb fish taken there this week on an Mr52 chrome silver color variation. The water temp has climbed a substantial 6 degrees in the last two weeks. If you are looking for the Speckled Trout, try to find some Bay Anchovies or silversides flipping on the surface. The Specks are on the really small sized baitfish at this time of the year. Recommend trying to fish areas with a higher salt PPT (parts per unit) because we haven't had much rain and these fish have been holding closer to the inlets. If you are looking for Flounder there have been some fish filtering out of their overwintering creeks in the Neuse River. They are confused and are starting their springtime trends a little bit earlier than usual because of this fast rise in water temperatures. Use baits like a 4 inch natural gulp on a jig, and you might get lucky with some Red Drum and Trout as well. Always remember to work these baits slower than usual because it is still so early in the season. The Beach is still holding some nice slot sized Drum, places like Hammocks Beach state park will be home to the schoolies. Once you find them you can chip away at them all day long. Oriental area is still seeing some larger than usual Speckled Trout, it is a lot of work to catch one, but the fish in that area seem to be in the 20-24' range.

Nearshore/Offshore: From the Big Rock on out to the Swansboro hole; anglers have really been getting a true mixed bag. We have heard of a few stray gaffer Dolphin, a few sailfish, some wahoo, and a few scattered Blackfin being caught as well. If you find a good grass line out there, there could be a couple early arriving Mahi on it. If you are out there and are unable to find any grass, the best option is looking for a sharp 2 degree temperature break. This is where you can focus on the Wahoo, Sailfish, and the Blackfin. The Blackfin will prefer a smaller bait, so make sure you have at least one small ballyhoo out there, and make sure you pull it up top. The Swordfish grounds are producing very regularly to the anglers who are willing to make the run out there. Mackerel Strips, or any other type of flashy scented and brined fish skin will do the trick with the nocturnal beasts. A Swordfish has a much softer mouth than a Marlin or a Sailfish so it’s important to make sure your drag is set just perfect (maybe 17-19lbs) to avoid tearing the hook out. Electrical reels are going to make your life 1000 times easier when you are hooking up with a huge fish in 200 plus fathoms of water. As we all know, from the Big Rock on out, anything can happen at any time so bring lots of baits, use your electronics, and never take your eyes off of the spread. As far as bottom fishing goes, there has been a very good bite on some big black sea bass. The BFT bite in the MHC area has pretty much bottomed out with these warmer water temps, so it’s more or less time to call that fishery quits. The triggers and Beeliners should still be available; use of electronics will be your best freind as far as finding them.

Get out there, and always, Tight Lines from Freemans Bait and Tackle.


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