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.



April 1, 2015

The water temperatures are starting to get into the mid to upper 50’s in the ocean and as high as the low 60’s in backwater marsh creeks, signaling we are on the verge of kicking off the spring season.  There have been a lot of windy days in the past week but folks who have been getting out are finding a few fish.  The following are your best bets for the Easter holiday and first weeks of April. 

PIER SURF – Sea mullet are being caught from local piers and the surf using high low rigs with blood worms or shrimp.  Using cut bait, April provides surf and pier fisherman a shot at the Chopper Bluefish.  Using cut bait or jigs in the surf will start to produce Puppy Drum and Black Drum in the sloughs and breaks of the surf line.  As with all types of fishing you need to maximize your opportunities by fishing prime water.  On the pier, you’re catching for twenty minutes, then nothing.  Move around and find them again and they might be fifty feet to you left, right, or behind you.  In the surf, look for sloughs parallel to the beach marked by nervous water and waves that break off the beach, then return to swell, to again break on the beach at your feet and perpendicular cuts, in sandbars marked by a “riptide” of usually dirty water.  Additionally, pay attention to the relief of the beach, check out places where the high tide leaves a “cliff” of sand or the beach is steeper then surrounding locations, as it generally indicates deeper water which is more likely to contain passing fish. 

INSHORE – Expect to find Speckled Trout feeding in the feeder creeks of the lower Neuse River, Clubfoot, Adams and South River.  Best lure options are going to be Mirrolure MR-17’s and 1/8 and 1/4 ounce jig heads with your favorite color of plastic like Z-Man minnows or Sea Assassin Paddletails.  Find bait, which will still be largely in the back of the creeks and fire away being sure to change up your retrieve speed and type until you find what the fish want.  Try fishing a curly tail grub under a popping cork in a rod holder behind the boat while casting down the bank.  You might be surprised how many fish will smack this unattended offering. 

Another inshore option will be Red Drum in the marshes like the Haystacks and lower Newport River.  You might find these fish on bait or you might find the fish just hanging out in the sun-warmed waters soaking up the heat.  Slow presentations again will rule the day, use the lightest gig head you can stay in contact with the bottom.  Gulp or other flavored plastics will rule until water temperatures climb consistently into the low to mid 60’s.  For both the Trout and Drum, live bait such as mud minnows on a Carolina rig or under a float may tip the odds in your favor.  With the Reds, don’t hesitate to break out the cut bait and soak this offering in a likely spot. 

NEAR SHORE (60 ft or less including the turning basin) Sea Mullet are starting to make their annual inshore appearance and Gray Trout will be in the mix in the coming weeks.  Most of the recent reports indicate the best sea mullet fishing is in Beaufort Inlet proper.  If you don’t mark any fish, start on the channel edges and drift into deeper water.  Simple high low rigs and speck rigs baited with bloodworms or shrimp weighted with 1-3 oz gets the nod for the tasty members of the Croaker family. 

Although keeper ratios have been low, look for black sea bass on the nearshore wreaks and reefs like the AR285, AR330 and even AR315.  Spoons, bucktails and high low rigs with squid, shrimp, or cut bait will produce and don’t hesitate to tip you artificials.  Generally speaking more keeper fish will show up through early May as these fish move inshore to spawn. 

As is usually the case, waters east of Cape Lookout are warming more quickly than Onslow Bay.  As such, this is currently the best bet for finding Flounder.  Check out locations such as AR285 or D Reck using 1-3 ounce bucktails tipped with a white plastic.  Such as a four inch Gulp shrimp or 5-7 inch Zman jerk shadz or Paddlerz.  Use the motor as needed to keep the boat at or under a 1 kt drift speed and your line angle as close to 90degrees as possible  Vary your presentation from slow, just dragging a long the bottom, to fast.  Rapid vertical snaps of the rod, but be sure to keep that rod tip below 10o’clock to insure you have rod travel left for hook setting.  Your hookup ratio will improve. 

False Albacore are still a good ways off the beach, but they will be moving inshore to be joined by Atlantic Bonita.  Look for them around the inshore AR reefs like the 315 and the inlet.  Troll the same surf as you would for Spanish Mackerel, like DD Yozuri plugs, clark-drone spoons and be prepared with spoons up to 1 ½ oz for casting opportunities.  April will also bring Chopper Blues into the area on their annual migration.  To get their attention, troll along the beaches and shoals of the inlet and cape with spoons or diving plugs.  Drift cut bait in the same locations and be prepared with casting gear to capitalize on surface activity. 

OFFSHORE – Boats able to make it out this past week reported Wahoo, Dolphin and Black Fin Tuna in the Big Rock area.  Skirted baits with ballyhoo proved productive and make sure you run at least one planer (handlined, downrigger or inline) rig as Wahoo in particular are suckers for this presentation. 

BOTTOM FISHING (25+ fathoms) remains steady with plenty of Triggerfish, Vermillion Snapper and Black Sea Bass are being reported by those who make the run.  Again squid and cut bait get the nod.  

March 12, 2015

As of this writing, March 12, 2015, the days are getting longer and water temperatures are climbing.  We recently had several days in the 60 and 70’s with plenty of sun.  We have received reports of surface water temps in the low 60’s, promising, but there is still a large volume of water nowhere near those highs.  Where are the best places to find these higher temps from top to bottom? Shallows of the tidal rivers, creeks, and marshes of the waters surrounding Morehead City.  Regardless of where those flounder, trout, or drum wintered in the estuarine waters, they will all be seeking the comfort of the daytime warmed waters and the food source these same locations attract.  With that being said, shallow waters with dark colored substrates warm up the quickest and windward banks will accumulate sun warmed surface waters throughout the day.  As such, concentrating your angling efforts to afternoons in March will result in fishing the warmest waters of the day.  You're not necessarily going to explore new waters in March, but instead of casting at that secondary creek mouth over and over like you did in November or high summer, maybe make a few more casts toward the sun warmed flats formed by one of that creeks point.  This time of the year, the comfort of warm water may not coincide with bait so check out some of those sun soaked shallow muddy bays, you might be surprised what you find milling around in the areas warmest waters. 

Shallow doesn't always mean against the bank.  In the larger creeks, there is water 2-4 foot deep that are soaking up sunlight 100's of feet from shore. Don't get caught up in beating the bank, turn around and fire away.   Bait is generally harder to come by at this time of the year, and unless you purchase it from the tackle store, you can stick with artificials as their presentation generally allows the covering of more water.  Colder waters generally require slow retrieves, so start out slow and and speed up until you find what the fish prefer.  No secrets on lure types, the same as you would fish any other time; plastics or gulp on 1/8 and 1/4 oz heads, MR-17s, spinnerbaits, minnow jerkbaits (especially suspending models), with topwaters starting to pick up fish later in the month.  Despite slower retrieves, don't dally, cover water, and pay attention to where you’re getting bites and bypass unproductive area types.  

Moving toward the ocean, warming March waters will bring tasty sea mullet and hard fighting grey trout into Beaufort Inlet and the adjoining waters of the port and turning basin.  Drifting high low rigs or speck rigs tipped with bloodworm, shrimp, gulp, or fish bites using 1-3 ounces will tempt both of these members of the croaker family.  Sea Mullet schools aren't always easy to mark on the fishfinder so cover water with your drifts and once you find them, mark that location on your gps and stay with them.  Try bottom bouncing a 1-2 ounce casting/jigging spoon like a jig fish or sting silver around the areas hard structure like bridges, port wall, submerged rocks, and docks with deep water access for more grey trout action.  The best fishing for trout and sea mullet is generally the last few hours of the incoming tide through the first few hours of outgoing tide.  

Moving into the ocean, March offers shots at chopper bluefish, false albacore, and some keeper sized sea bass on the nearshore reefs (less than 60 feet) as the waters warm into the 50's.  Look for the blues to be along the beaches and shoals of the inlet and capes.  Trolling plugs and spoons will allow you to cash in on these hard fighting fish and if thick enough they may offer a casting opportunity.  For the purpose of this forecast, nearshore, false albacore could be encountered anywhere from along the beach to the nearshore reefs.  If the fish are spread out, trolling #0 clark and drone spoons along with deep diving yozuri crystal minnows gets the nod, but keep a casting spoon or two at the ready in the event the fish are thick.  As the month progresses the likely hood of encountering atlantic bonito increases and the same tackle and tactics used for false albacore will dupe these speedsters.   Keeper sized sea bass will grow in quantity on nearshore artificial reefs starting in winter and moving into spring.  Use squid or gulp tipped bucktails, jigging spoons, or high low rigs to tempt this fine table fare.  Nearshore artificial reefs cover a lot of area and contain many different substrate types so check the whole area out remembering sea bass frequently suspend so the best action might be 20 feet above that sunken barge.  1-3 ounce weights should cover your needs and if anymore is required to keep contact with your bait or maintain a vertical presentation, the conditions are more than likely not conducive for the fish to feed.  

March is a transition month that can feel like February one minute and April the next, but if offers the years first chance to shake that cabin fever and get out on the water for some piscatorial pursuit. Don't wait for the years first reports, make the years first reports!  


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