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 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

March 14, 2017

This has been a very nontraditional 2017 "spring into springtime", as far as our local fishing is concerned.  It's been nontraditional in a very positive way! The water temp last week was at 66 degrees inshore, it has now dropped to 58 degrees, and the bite has not really slowed down at all.

Many anglers have been absolutely laying the "Pepper" down on the Speckled Trout. Z man Jerk Shads, classic Carolina Curly Tails, Mr17s, Mr18s, and Berkley Gulp scented soft plastics in the 4 inch Natural and Molten colors have been the select baits for these beautiful "Speckled-Peppersnakes". There have been some really nice Specks being taken all throughout the ICW. Look for some structure for these fish to relate to, or else find some small bait fish. If you don't get a bite after your first 10 casts, switch baits, ten more, switch baits again, ten more without a bite, then move spots. Lots of these larger Specks have actually been mingling with some big Gray Trout as well. Some big Gray Trout have already shown up at the AB bridge, anglers have been catching them jigging stingsilvers. The Port wall has some nice Gray Trout on it as well. Flounder have been taken at many of the Artificial Reefs jigging bucktails, if you can find some live mullet, you could really put a hurting on them. The Red Drum are schooled up on the beaches, and there have been some schools of the BIG GROWN ONES off of the cape, and Shark Island. Look for them on your electronics and drop a white bucktail tipped with a gulp shrimp. If you see birds busting on the surface near the shoals, it is very likely the monster reds feeding up top so make sure to haul your tush over to them and cast to the birds. Slot drum are hanging around nearshore structures like rock jetties, and long shoaly places like the cape. Sea Mullet are here already, anglers are catching limits of them in the turning basin/shipping channel areas with speck rigs tipped with some shrimp. Black Drum have been roaming the beaches, and someone caught a really nice one yesterday that he snagged in the back while using a storm swim shad targeting Red Drum. This tells you that they are in very tight schools, so when you find one there will likely be many more in the same spot.  We have already been seeing small Sheepshead loitering around dock
pilings, they are not the big adults, but can be fun for the kids, and the little ones still love a two hook bottom rig with shrimp. Bluefish have arrived as well. While Trout fishing this week, also had an encounter with an absolute chopper, and got it in close enough to identify that it was a monster bluefish just before his razor sharp teeth sawed through a 20lb fluoro leader. So its not too early to keep your lookout for some big chopper bluefish. No Spanish yet, which shouldn't surprise anyone. A few small rat King Mackerel have been hanging out nearshore, as well as the always abundant Amberjack.

The Swordfish bite has remained consistently good, anglers in search of them are still getting bites (seemingly on almost every outing). There have been a few billfish roaming around the Big Rock-Swansboro Hole areas, mostly Sailfish. The Wahoo fishing has actually been pretty good as of lately.  We have not heard of anymore catches of Dolphin, but you just never really know. There are still some Blackfins being caught as well. Bottom fishing for Beeliners and Triggerfish has been good. There have been a few stray random catches while Swordfishing, like the elusive Escolar. These fish are supposedly great eating, but be sure to only eat a small amount!

There are tight pods of albacores running the beaches between Beaufort Inlet and Bear Inlet, anywhere from the 2-6 miles range off of the beachfront. These albies are in smaller packs than in the fall, but they are also a larger size-class. If you tie a small fly (resembling the smallest glass minnow you've ever seen) these fish will
react to it, and sizzle some drag off of your fly reel. Another fishery that is here right now is fly fishing the shoals of Shark Island for Bull Drum. You will want to have a sinking head fly line for these bruisers, and use your electronics to find them. They are schooled up lower in the water column most of the day (suspended in the 20-40 ft range).
You can provoke a strike on the fly from one of these monster Redfish with an oversized deceiver (baitfish) pattern. You will want to let your fly sink down with your weighted line for about 30-45 seconds (when you are marking the fish). After that a strip-set cadence will be needed. A strip-set retrieve cadence is one where every time you strip your fly line in, you are trying to set the hook. Otherwise when you do get that big strike, the fish will likely just spit out your fly. With a strip-set cadence, you know that you will be able to penetrate a big Drum's fleshy mouth. Speckled Trout are being taken on small-medium sized weighted (lead wrapped flies), mostly deceivers or clouser minnows on a floating line. The best way to get the Specks to eat a fly is to drop your fly to where you think the fish are (use the current to drift your fly back to them). Then after that, just slowly jiggle the tip of your fly rod. The Specks still aren't super active yet so the slower the better. Fly patterns tied in the size and color pattern of a live mud minnow can be absolutely deadly right now.

As always, Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait and Tackle!

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