July 12, 2017

 

Summer time heat is scorching the Crystal Coast, and it's the time of year to enjoy a hot summer day out on the water.

While you are out on the water, you might as well take advantage of some great warm-weather fishing that the Southern OBX has to offer.

Inshore: One unique fishery that has made its appearance is our summer-time Tarpon fishery. In North Carolina, Tarpon are a very challenging task to cross off of your bucket list; nevertheless, they are around. If you plan an excursion to try and catch one, you could go about it in two different ways. You could cover as much of the Neuse River as possible on a flat calm day and look for Tarpon gulping air, then pitch something like a live shad or a live pinfish to them. The other technique would be anchoring up and kite fishing along the beach with baits like; live cob mullet, live pinfish, or live threadfin. The Speckled Trout fishing has been fairly strong even with all of this heat, and many of the fish being caught have been large and in charge. Topwaters at daybreak is the staple for big summer time Trout. The Rapala Skitter-Walk is a go to topwater bait for Citation sized Trout at dawn around this area. It's best to retrieve this bait either "Along the Grain" or "Against the Grain". "Along the Grain" means to let the current be your friend and help you cover the water. "Against the Grain" is working your bait against the current, giving it a slower cadence and a wider twitch range. I will also add that a big Speckled Trout will generally miss your bait on its first attempt, or even try to tail slap it, so its very important to not freak out after the first strike, just keep it slowly twitching. A big Trout will almost always turn back and make sure he gets it on the second attempt. Also, a Trout on topwater will generally hook themselves, so no need for some crazy hook set like an FLW-tour Largemouth Bass all-star, you'll just tear the soft tissue in the fish's mouth and lose your trophy. Flounder fishing has been consistent. Live baits on a Carolina Rig is the way to do it in the hot summer days, undoubtedly. Inshore areas like Core Creek have had plenty of Flounder, Speckled Trout, and Red Drum. The Newport River has had some good topwater Red Drum action as well. Fishing a Berkley Gulp (Natural or Molten color 4"shrimp) near oyster beds with a very slow retrieve has been producing some upper-slot and a few over-slot Drum lately as well. Anglers fishing from the beach are catching some nice Spanish Mackerel on gold colored Taskmaster spoons, particularly around Bogue and Beaufort Inlets.

Offshore: Offshore fishing has been producing a good Grouper bite. There have also been some billfish around areas from the Big Rock to the Swansboro Hole. We have not heard any reports on Swordfish being caught. There should still be a few Dolphin around the grass, but not in any good numbers, just kind of here and there, or none at all. The smaller class sizes of Wahoo should start chewing the planer rods usually around this time of year. There have been a few anglers that have found good pods of Blackfin Tuna. Bottom fishing has been consistent as always for meat fisherman, you've just got to have quality baits, quality rigs, and quality numbers. Don't be afraid to try something that looks good on your electronics, too many people rely on numbers given to them. If you have the electronics, trust them, and use them to your advantage. Sometimes the best way to catch is stay away from the crowd.

Fly Fishing: Citation Speckled Trout can be fooled at daybreak on big and bulky deciever patterns that imitate a live mullet. Amberjack,
smaller sized Mahi, and random strangers can be fooled over the top of artificial reefs on a fly after a heavy dose of chumming.

As always, Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait and Tackle. We hope you're enjoying summer! 

 


June 13, 2017

 

The summer has started, the weather is piping hot, and the fish are starting to get a little bit peppered up too!

Inshore: With the water temperatures on the rise, it is possible to find some smaller sized Dolphin (Mahi) in around our artificial reefs and on out towards nearshore places like Northwest Places. Most people catch them while targeting King Mackerel as bycatch. Live baits like free lined Menhaden, or frozen baits like Cigar minnows will get you a bite from both Kings as well as nearshore Mahi. Anglers are also starting to see large Spanish Mackerel at places like AR 315 and AR 330. Free lined finger mullet on a heavy flourocarbon leader (40-50lbs) with a small a treble hook can get you a bite from the big Spaniards. Smaller King Mackerel will be mixed in with the big Spanish, so make sure you properly identify your catch before throwing it in the kill box. Flounder fishing with bucktailscan be done simultaneously while fishing for Spanish on the artificial reefs. Jig a Spro Bucktail/Gulp Shrimp combo on the bottom while you let your live bait swim on top behind the boat, sometimes you can get a nice mixed bag. As far as the marshes and inshore waterbodies go, there has been a very good Red Drum bite. Anywhere around the Core Creek marshes should hold some nice slot sized Drum. There should also be plenty of Black Drum and Sheepshead around the same areas, especially if you can find some nice Oyster beds. If you want a shot at catching all three of these species, the best way to target them all at once is a live shrimp under a popping cork. Just because the fact that live shrimp is a bait that all of them will readily eat. If you are after Red Drum and Speckled Trout, I would say maybe go with a Topwater early in the morning, as the heat of the day progresses focus on deeper structure like dock pilings and fish with Jerk Shads, Swim Baits, Gulp Shrimp, Vudu Shrimp, or else Halo shad/Halo Shrimp. An awesome lure (soft plastic) that will work for Trout, Drum, and Flounder as well (that is available in the shop) is the oversized Dudu Shrimp, it also has a small rattle in it, that will help trigger a bite. Sharks can be available everywhere, if you don't have a boat there are tons of Spinner Sharks (which will jump) available all along the depths of the Beaufort Inlet Channel (where it drops off really fast around Fort Macon). There have been a few stray Cobia around, but would not worth making a plan on targeting them. Fiddler Crabs fished near bridge
pilings on a Carolina Rig will give anglers a good shot at Sheepshead and Black Drum mixed bags. There have been some Flounder and Black Drum along the Beaches, as well as some Spanish Mackerel. The piers are catching Spanish and Bluefish by anglers plugging. Bear Inlet and Shark Island beaches have plenty of Red Drum near the inlets. There have also been some better sized Speckled Trout around, they can be pursued in 2-6 feet of water (shelly or grassy bottoms) in the mornings or around dusk.


Offshore: The Mahi have started to move a little bit closer in; places like the 90-foot drop might have some good Dolphin on it still though. The Wahoo bite should probably start to pick up a little bit, with a few more bites available per day, however you probably aren't going to see the same size classes as those Spring and Fall monsters. Blue Marlin fishing is obviously the name of the game right now, with the Big Rock tournament in full swing. The Blue Marlin fishing is still producing plenty of bites. They can be found from the Big Rock on out. Grouper fishing has been very productive, with limits being plentiful. We have not heard a whole lot as far as the Swordfishing has been going lately, however I would assume that those who find some good pretty water could scrape together a few Swords. There has been a fairly consistent bite on Red Grouper as well, you will want turbo sized live baits for the Red Grouper or else a larger meatier cut bait for them.

Fly Fishing: Spanish Mackerel can be targeted on the fly, with the larger fish on the reefs. The larger sized Spanish can be targeted with larger profile baitfish patterns (4-6inch) mullet or white baitfish color schemes. It is best to bring some live baits with, and to throw them overboard to get the fish fired up before casting your fly. Smaller sized Spanish can be targeted along the beaches with glass minnow fly patterns. There is also the opportunity to catch plenty of Red Drum on the fly as well. Wade fishing the marshes during a flood tide with either shrimp, crab, or else very light weighted clouser minnow patterns can be very effective for the Drum. Believe it or not, if you can find a really good Crab fly pattern, you can also catch Sheepshead on the fly at this time of the year as well, specifically along the oyster beds during very high tides. Big game in our area is also available to be targeted on fly at this time of the year. If you bring a 10-12Wt fly rod offshore, that should be able to handle most species. Amberjack, Mahi, and King Mackerel will all chew on a fly, you have just got to have the gear on board. Large Baitfish deciever patterns will do the trick for all of these species. The key is not to waste time casting until you see one. So just go about your day, and have a fly rod ready. You can always try a fly rod right at dusk or dawn for big Speckled Trout, you will want to fish with a large mullet/pinfish colored baitfish deciever pattern around shallow grass beds with deep sand potholes in the mix.

As always, Tight Lines from Freemans Bait and Tackle


 


May 23, 2017

 

The water temperature inshore has made a dramatic rise in the last couple weeks, and some of the early summer fisheries are beginning to fire off. As of yesterday, (the 22nd) the water temperature in Beaufort Inlet was 79 degrees F.

Inshore: The Cobia fishing is still firing on all cylinders. Fish are being taken both soaking baits in the Inlets, as well as sight fishing down the Crystal Coast beaches. The Spanish Mackerel are now widespread and are blitzing baitfish like Silversides and micro-brown Anchovies. Anglers can cast to busting fish with a fly rod with small transparent baitfish patterns and do really well. Otherwise trolling clark spoons, or casting small Stingsilver lures will do the trick on the Spanish. Sheepshead and Black Drum are congregating well along inshore piers, bridge pilings, and oyster beds. Live Fiddler Crabs and Sea Urchins on a Carolina rig or else a drop shot rig will get them to chew. Red Drum are spread out in the marshes all the way from Emerald Isle down to the Atlantic Beach area of the Island. Gulp baits on a jig head, topwater "walk the dog" baits and soft plastic swim baits will all tempt the Red Drum to chew. Flounder fishing is starting to get good as well. Fish are being caught in the marshes, and at live nearshore bottom structures. Live Mullet on a Carolina rig, or else a knocker rig will get a bite from the flatties. Speckled Trout are starting to eat a lot better than a couple of weeks ago, most of them are now post-spawn and are willing to eat. Topwater baits at dusk and dawn are the best ways to get a big fish bite right now in regards to the Specks. These fish will likely be a little bit shallower in the low light times, moving into the flats after dark to forage, and moving deeper during the days to cool off. Amberjacks are now showing real well on live bottoms from AR 330 on out. There have also been some stray Cobia further out as well, just remember you cant keep them unless you are inside the 3 mile boundary. There have also been a few Cobia taken off of local fishing piers on the beach in the last couple of weeks. Fishing from the beach has been giving anglers a mixed bag. Species like Pompano, Sea Mullet, Black Drum, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, and Bluefish have all been available on the beachfront. Flounder gigging in the marshes has begun to produce some numbers of fish as well.

Offshore: In the last week, some of the best Blue Marlin fishing we have ever heard of in our area is firing off. There have been a lot of REALLY LARGE ones caught as well. Pulling plugs, doink fishing with Ballyhoo, or pulling a Spanish Mackerel will give you a chance at a big fish bite. The Mahi fishing is remaining steady as well, there have also been a few Yellowfin and Blackfin in the mix while trolling for Mahi. Keep your eye open under a grassline and have a medium action spinning rod out there with a plastic shrimp, someone saw a school of large TripleTail out there last week while pulling down the grass and had nothing to pitch to them. Grouper fishing and bottom fishing in general has remained consistent. Even some Red Grouper have been caught recently. Find live bottom and use your electronics for the Grouper. Wahoo are still around as well, but the numbers are not quite what they were a few weeks back. Always pull a planer though, because you should still be able to manage a couple of bites while you are Mahi-mahi fishing.

Enjoy your upcoming Memorial Day weekend!

As always, Tight Lines from Freemans Bait and Tackle

 


May 1, 2017

The month of May is one of the best saltwater fishing months here in the Southern Outer Banks.  We have dual migration going on right now; both inshore and offshore.

The Gaffer sized Dolphin (Mahi) fishing during May is world class and second to none.  We also have some unbelievable Cobia fishing. IT'S MAY!  There is truly something special about Cobia fishing.  Maybe it's the aspect of being able to sight cast a bait to them, maybe it's the small window of opportunity.  Regardless of what it is, these elusive "Bronze-tinted 18wheelers" are heading through their near shore migratory highways right now in our backyard.  It's time to go ahead and pull a few of them over!

Inshore: As previously stated, the Cobia have made their arrival.  These fish can be targeted a Maximum of 3 miles from shore (our state water boundary) due to the Federal closure this year.  This year NCDMF will be deploying Cobia tags, so all anglers be aware of tagged fish, if you see one, hear of one, or know somebody who has heard of one, go ahead and call Marine Fisheries at 800-682-2632 or report a tag online at www.portal.ncdenr.org/web/MF/report-tag-online  

The Cobia can be targeted in two ways. Sight fishing or bottom fishing. If you are sight fishing, look for good bait balls, or any large species swimming the surface, and the Cobia will be nearby.  Bucktail Jigs with a large curly tail, or live free lined Menhaden are two of the top go-to methods for sight fishing in our area.  If you plan on bottom fishing, make sure to bring some good chum to bring life to your boat. Whole cut Menhaden, whole cut cob mullet, live Menhaden, live blue crab and live eel are all good options. Again, make sure you are not using undersize blue crabs if you go the crab route.  Good places to soak baits are any good sand bottoms near an inlet in the 18-40ft depth range.  

Now, we are also seeing some of the first early morning big Speckled Trout action on topwaters. These fish are staging in shallow shell/sand bottom areas after dark, and can be targeted with topwaters at daybreak when fish are moving off of the flats/reefs.  There will be plenty of slot sized Red Drum in the mix as well. The slot sized Red Drum are moving into the backwaters now, and will reside in the shallow muddy/shell/oyster areas throughout most of the summer.  Flounder are now on the move into their inshore summer areas. Places like AR315, Core Creek, and Radio Island rock jetty should have some fish arriving.  The bigger flatties will be mostly chewing on live finger mullet.  Spanish Mackerel have shown up on the beaches, they can be taken casting a stingsilver, trolling clarkspoons, or you can troll a Yozuri plug for some of the larger fish.  Sheepshead are arriving inshore to dock areas and rock jetties; Sea Urchins, Fiddler Crabs, or clusters of Black Mussels will get you a bite.  Black Drum in the 5-15lb range will coexist with the Sheepshead and bite the same types of baits. If you are the type to soak a two hook bottom rig from the beach, there have been some Pompano around, as well as Black Drum, Sea Mullet, and a few Red Drum.

Offshore: The gaffer sized Dolphin is really what is going on right now, 90% of the boats going out are after the Gaffers.  Pulling ballyhoo is basically all you need to do, look for a grass line if you can find one, the fish are scattered between the 90ft drop all the way on out to the Big Rock.  If you are into catching less fish, but want to battle them on light tackle, find a grass line and slow troll a couple live baits up top down the grass line.  Heavy spinning gear can be really fun on them.  There have been a few Billfish around, as well as some stray Blackfin Tuna. Bottom fishing is still going well with Triggerfish, Beeliners and Grouper being caught. If you are fishing for the Gag Grouper, fill up your live well with some live Pinfish (Grouper hate them), or stop in the store and get some select frozen Grouper baits from us before you head out.

As always, Tight lines from Freemans Bait & Tackle


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



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