Our inshore and nearshore water temperatures are on a steady rise. The warm, fresh, Southwest Winds are heating up the coast. All sorts of fishing
opportunities are starting to bust wide open. We will experience migratory runs of both Southerly and Northerly orientated fish populations passing
through our Coastal water bodies, giving local anglers a potluck of Spring time opportunities.
Bluefish, Sea Mullet, Black Drum, Pompano and Gray Trout have been taken by anglers soaking fresh cut shrimp along the suds of the beach, and also
at the Beaufort Inlet behind Fort Macon State Park. Pier anglers soaking cut shrimp can encounter the same mix of fish. The Sea Mullet fishing
is decent along the beach and areas near the Turning Basin. Red Drum and have been taken by anglers casting plastic swim-baits, and some nice Seatrout
are being caught near the Oceanna Pier on Mirrorlures, swim-baits, and
Gulp Shrimp. The Drum along the beach will likely be in a school, so if you locate one, try to continue to stay with the school of fish. Chopper Bluefish
are starting to show up around Cape Lookout. Topwater “walk the dog" plugs can entice some very fun and visual strikes. Fish for Blues right up
along the whitewash of the beach, if it's calm out you might have a better chance at finding them. Fishing near the Fort Macon rock jetty is a
great place to try to catch a few of the first Flounder moving into the sound from the nearshore reefs. The rocks give the Flounder a place to
get out of the current and rest up before they make their run into the inshore marshes and ICW. Spanish Mackerel are already being caught, so try
throwing a Kastmaster spoon from the beach and you might come tight on a few. When using a
Kastmaster spoon for fishing on the beach, pair your Kastmaster with a snap/snap-swivel and 30-40lb Fluorocarbon leader to prevent bite offs and chafing.
Fishing in the Inter-coastal Waterway, Newport River, and Bogue Sound is beginning to get hot. The baitfish have arrived, and there are tons of Glass
Minnows, Half-beaks, Sand Perch, and small Croaker for predators to gorge on. The water temperature is on the rise so the Trout and Red Drum are
feeding much more actively, they are following the bait-fish. So if you find some bait-fish in deeper water but they are suspended or on the surface,
do not be afraid to fish in the upper portions of the water column. Trout and Drum usually feed on the bottom, but when water temperatures begin
to climb they will spread out throughout the water column. Areas like dock pilings near a drop off, Oyster beds with a shell bottom, or shallow
flats with Eel Grass & potholes are great areas to focus at this time of the year. The Flounder are also starting to be captured on the inside,
however most of them are smaller males. It will not be long at all until the big doormat females will begin to trickle in from the nearshore reefs.
Gray Trout are thick, and can be vertically "snap-jigged" with a wide range of soft plastics and jigging spoons. The key to catching the Gray Trout
is making sure that you don't horse them in, they have a very soft mouth tissue and applying too much pressure will result in losing your fish.
There have been some large schools of Striped Bass in the ICW this spring, and that is a great sign because usually we do not see many of them.
The Striped Bass have been by-catch for Trout and Red Drum anglers.
Nearshore fishing is firing on full charge. For the next month we will be seeing a mix of Cobia, Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel, Bonito, Red Drum, and
possibly a monstrous Black Drum or two. Searching the beach for fish activity such as; bait balls, oil slicks, and any large creature a Cobia can
hide underneath is a great option if you plan on sight fishing. Soaking live/dead baits on a "Knocker-rig" or a “Carolina-rig" near an inlet or
deep channel is also an effective option for springtime Cobia anglers. Keep your eyes out for any tagged Cobia this May, and if you do get one,
please report your tag to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. Albacore are still being seen around the inlets and the Cape as well.
There are opportunities to find massive schools of 40" inch Red Drum along the beach, but this fishing requires dedication and persistence. On
some days the Chopper Bluefish will be in the same areas as the big Drum, and give you something to enjoy for a while. Amberjack and King Mackerel
are always an option right now too, slow trolling live Menhaden will do the trick, a good starting point is around the live bottom areas of Northwest
Places. Sometimes a massive school of Black Drum randomly appear along the beach in the Spring, but that's just a right place, right time scenario.
Offshore the fishing has been heating up. We have had some Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi, Wahoo and Blackfin Tuna being caught. The Wahoo fishing has been really
good, get out there ASAP, because even tomorrow could be too late! Mahi fishing is going to be really good over the next couple of weeks. Bottom
fishing remains stable, and a few Swordfish
have been landed.
Make sure to always wet your hands before handling any Seatrout, Red Drum, Striped Bass, or any other species you plan on releasing. Always make sure
that you wet down all dry surfaces/measuring boards that the fish is exposed to while out of the water, and for good practice, please don't handle
a fish you plan on releasing with a towel. Always support the belly of any fish you release, and never put your hand in 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, Striped Bass, or Flounder taken in our inshore waters to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries tagging program.
Tight Lines from Freeman’s Bait & Tackle!