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
Another inshore option will be Red Drum in the marshes like
the Haystacks and lower
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
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.