WELCOME TO FREEMAN'S BAIT & TACKLE

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
repair.
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.

FISHING REPORT


May 1, 2017

The month of May is one of the best saltwater fishing months here in the Southern Outer Banks.  We have dual migration going on right now; both inshore and offshore.

The Gaffer sized Dolphin (Mahi) fishing during May is world class and second to none.  We also have some unbelievable Cobia fishing. IT'S MAY!  There is truly something special about Cobia fishing.  Maybe it's the aspect of being able to sight cast a bait to them, maybe it's the small window of opportunity.  Regardless of what it is, these elusive "Bronze-tinted 18wheelers" are heading through their near shore migratory highways right now in our backyard.  It's time to go ahead and pull a few of them over!

Inshore: As previously stated, the Cobia have made their arrival.  These fish can be targeted a Maximum of 3 miles from shore (our state water boundary) due to the Federal closure this year.  This year NCDMF will be deploying Cobia tags, so all anglers be aware of tagged fish, if you see one, hear of one, or know somebody who has heard of one, go ahead and call Marine Fisheries at 800-682-2632 or report a tag online at www.portal.ncdenr.org/web/MF/report-tag-online  

The Cobia can be targeted in two ways. Sight fishing or bottom fishing. If you are sight fishing, look for good bait balls, or any large species swimming the surface, and the Cobia will be nearby.  Bucktail Jigs with a large curly tail, or live free lined Menhaden are two of the top go-to methods for sight fishing in our area.  If you plan on bottom fishing, make sure to bring some good chum to bring life to your boat. Whole cut Menhaden, whole cut cob mullet, live Menhaden, live blue crab and live eel are all good options. Again, make sure you are not using undersize blue crabs if you go the crab route.  Good places to soak baits are any good sand bottoms near an inlet in the 18-40ft depth range.  

Now, we are also seeing some of the first early morning big Speckled Trout action on topwaters. These fish are staging in shallow shell/sand bottom areas after dark, and can be targeted with topwaters at daybreak when fish are moving off of the flats/reefs.  There will be plenty of slot sized Red Drum in the mix as well. The slot sized Red Drum are moving into the backwaters now, and will reside in the shallow muddy/shell/oyster areas throughout most of the summer.  Flounder are now on the move into their inshore summer areas. Places like AR315, Core Creek, and Radio Island rock jetty should have some fish arriving.  The bigger flatties will be mostly chewing on live finger mullet.  Spanish Mackerel have shown up on the beaches, they can be taken casting a stingsilver, trolling clarkspoons, or you can troll a Yozuri plug for some of the larger fish.  Sheepshead are arriving inshore to dock areas and rock jetties; Sea Urchins, Fiddler Crabs, or clusters of Black Mussels will get you a bite.  Black Drum in the 5-15lb range will coexist with the Sheepshead and bite the same types of baits. If you are the type to soak a two hook bottom rig from the beach, there have been some Pompano around, as well as Black Drum, Sea Mullet, and a few Red Drum.

Offshore: The gaffer sized Dolphin is really what is going on right now, 90% of the boats going out are after the Gaffers.  Pulling ballyhoo is basically all you need to do, look for a grass line if you can find one, the fish are scattered between the 90ft drop all the way on out to the Big Rock.  If you are into catching less fish, but want to battle them on light tackle, find a grass line and slow troll a couple live baits up top down the grass line.  Heavy spinning gear can be really fun on them.  There have been a few Billfish around, as well as some stray Blackfin Tuna. Bottom fishing is still going well with Triggerfish, Beeliners and Grouper being caught. If you are fishing for the Gag Grouper, fill up your live well with some live Pinfish (Grouper hate them), or stop in the store and get some select frozen Grouper baits from us before you head out.

As always, Tight lines from Freemans Bait & Tackle


April 12, 2017

April is truly a month of transition, winter is finally in the rear view mirror, and the fish have taken notice of it.  Our water temperatures are on the rise, and some (but not all) of our unique fisheries are at a pinnacle.

Inshore: One of our fisheries that is at its "Spring Pinnacle" are our Chopper Bluefish. The Bluefish that we are seeing right now are bigger than we have ever seen in a lifetime. There is a biomass of them in the 8-14LB range that are actively feeding on smaller Bluefish.  This is some serious cannibalism. These fish are roaming the shoals, and when it's low tide you can actually stalk them on the shoal in less than a foot of water (much like sight fishing a Bonefish or a Permit in the Florida Keys). Topwater walk the dog type lures, chugger head poppers, or even a large fly imitating a menhaden will provoke a strike. 'We've also heard talk of a few schools of FULLY GROWN "ALPHA MALE" Black Drum meandering the shoals as well. They are a little bit trickier to get a bite from, but will strike soft plastic baits imitating a shrimp, or else a live Blue Crab (make sure if you use crabs that they are not too small, NC has a specific size limit on our crabs). The Big Red Drum have been seen schooling on the shoals as well, it's better to look for them on a bluebird day, the Bull Reds will strike large bucktails/oversize curly tail, same setup as you'd sight cast a Cobia with. The Gray Trout fishing has been good at typical places like the Atlantic Beach bridge, and turning basin area, and many of the nearshore reefs. A vertical presentation with a "snap-jigged" Stingsilver will get the job done. There have been some larger Gray Trout than usual this year, an angler landed one that was just over 7LBS last week at an artificial reef. Bottom fishing along the beaches is picking up as well, especially for Sea Mullet, a few guys have been filling up the coolers soaking shrimp on the beach near the Oceanna Pier.  Flounder fishing is starting to begin to pick up at the Artificial Reefs, larger live baits on a Carolina Rig, or a Bucktail and Gulp Shrimp on some good live bottom will catch the hogs. Use your electronics and make waypoints when you catch one, then pound the area, lots of times they are very peculiar and tend to stack up on a small piece of bottom. Some of our species in the "Scombridae" family are making their first appearance on our inshore reefs right now, such as Bonito and smaller sized King Mackerel. It's still just a little bit early for Spanish Mackerel but it won't be long until they make an appearance. Speckled Trout fishing inshore has been decent, the big fish bite has tapered off a little bit, and a lot of the good areas for the Specks are being overrun by Cownose Rays unfortunately. If you are willing to grind it out, there are still limits to be caught. The after dark bite has been the best option for the Speckled Trout lately, especially if you are after the larger ones.

 

Offshore: Things are starting to get going offshore. The Wahoo bite is beginning to turn on as of late, and there have been some stray big King Mackerel, Gaffer Dolphin, and Blackfin Tuna chewing for the folks trolling areas near the Big Rock. Bottom fishing has been good for the Triggerfish, Black Sea Bass, Beeliners and Grouper (make sure you aren't targeting the Gag Grouper though, they're out of season right now). There are still plenty of Swordfish out in the depths that the folks targeting them are still getting some bites. With it being such a warm winter and warm Spring, it really would not surprise us if we sttarted hearing of some decent Gaffer Dolphin outings in the next two or three weeks. If you are going offshore and new to the game, a good piece of information before you go would be to check out the temperature breaks, and hone in on some of the warmest water. Rutgers University has a great website to use before your trips https://marine.rutgers.edu/cool/sat_data/?nothumbs=0&product=sst&region=capehat

 

As always, Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait & Tackle



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