It is a great feeling that from now until the end of December we will have the luxury to choose from a number of different great fishing opportunities. We will experience migratory runs of both Southernly and Northern orientated fish populations passing through our unique area of a "migratory fish interstate". The start of it all are the large schools of Chopper Bluefish and Bull Drum along our beaches, and they have made their presence known, let the season begin!
There have been clouds of Bluefish along the surf in certain areas of beach, specifically from Fort Macon out to the Cape. There have been hit or miss schools of 40+" Red Drum along the shoals area of the Cape to pair nicely with the Chopper Bluefish, making for some exciting days. The Sea Mullet fishing is getting in its peak along the beach and areas near the Turning Basin. The Gray Trout are here as well, with most of them in deeper structure along the ICW and turning basin areas. Flounder fishing is just getting started, and a few early arrivers are already being caught in Bogue Sound and at most of our nearshore reefs. The big Sheepshead usually arrive just after the first batch of Flounder push inshore, so pretty soon we will be seeing the "fully-grown convicts". Black Drum fishing has been solid around the Fort Macon rock jetty and the Cape jetty. False Albacore have made a strong showing just a couple miles off the beach as well.
The marsh has been holding more and more slot sized Red Drum as every day grows warmer. They are becoming very active, making topwaters a top choice at this tranistion time of the year. Speckled Trout are known to choke a topwater as well, and all signs are showing that we will still have a healthy fishery here along our beloved Crystal Coast. If you do catch a Trout, please just take one extra minute to wet your hands before handling it. Always make sure that you wet down all dry surfaces/measuring boards that the fish is exposed to while out of the water, and please dont handle a fish you plan on releasing with a towel. Always suppport the belly of any fish you release, and never pick her up by the gills. If all fisherman practiced proper handling skills, it would make more of a difference than anyone realizes. Don't forget to report any tagged Red Drum, Speckled Trout or Cobia taken in our inshore waters to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries tagging program.
Offshore the fishing has been heating up. We have had some of the best Yellowfin Tuna fishing that boats of Morehead/Atlantic Beach have seen in a very long time. If you want to try to catch a few Yellowfin, get out there ASAP, because who knows how long this bite will last. The Wahoo are starting to chew a little bit better, and we are seeing a few scattered gaffer sized Dolphinfish prematurely arriving, in a couple of weeks the Dolphin fishing will be world class. Bottom fishing remains stable, and Grouper opens back up in May for recreational anglers to target again.
Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait and Tackle