November 17, 2017

The weather is getting chilly, and the inshore fishing is getting redhot. If you want a chance at getting into a late fall fishing "pep-fest” then go ahead and go.

Inshore: Fishing has really been firing on all cylinders. Right now, all of our predatory inshore species are trying to eat a lot and move a lot. The marshes are full of Speckled Trout, and these visual feeders are chewing best when the water is clean and clear. The best places to target Speckled Trout right now will be places with one of the following: shelly/sandy bottom topography, live structure and current, small depth changes along the beach, rock jetties, marsh point or oyster beds. False Albacore are commonly coming within casting range for surf fisherman on the beachfront near Fort Macon State Park. They are chasing very small baitfish, so a “Stingsilver” pencil spoon would be a great bait to throw. The Atlantic Beach Bridge has been seeing plenty of nice Gray Trout. Flounder have been moving into our ocean and there are a lot of them along the beachfront right now. “Berkley Gulp” shrimp on a jighead is a great combo to throw on the beach at this time of the year for Red Drum and Flounder. The slower you fish it, the better off you are. King Mackerel Fishing has still been good but the water is really starting to cool off so you may need to run out until you find some in the 68 F range. Nearshore reefs are still holding some Flounder, Gray Trout, and even a few Red Drum. There have been massive schools of upper slot Drum running the beaches as well. Shallow reefs and grass beds in the sound that are surrounded by deeper water have been holding some really large Speckled Trout, the really large Trout are being caught in the shallower waters after dark. The Striped Mullet are at the peak of their annual migratory run along our beaches. Speckled Trout, Flounder, Red Drum, Black Drum and Pompano are all enjoying the suds of our beachfront. Water temperature today along the beach is around 63 Degrees Fahrenheit, and Speckled Trout are on the move. Speckled Trout are going to be abundant in our inshore waters in high biomass from now until about the end of January. Red Drum, Trout and Flounder can be taken fishing the beach with baits such as: “MR 18 Mirrorlure”, “Trout Trick”, “Rapala X-Rap”, “Halo-Shrimp”, and a variety of other hard and soft baits. As far as fishing with cut shrimp along the beach goes; there are plenty of SeaMullet around, as well as some really nice Black Drum, Pompano, Red Drum, and there have even been some Sheepshead caught as well.

Fly Fishing: Fly Fishing opportunities are at a peak right now. On a calm day, you can walk the beach with a fly rod and wait for a shot at close range for False Albacore. Near Fort Macon is a great place to go on the look for them. You do need to be a fairly avid caster to try this, however. Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Flounder can all be taken along the beach on the fly at this time of the year. “Match the hatch” and use a 5-6” really meaty “Deciever” pattern with color schemes such as a finger mullet. Walk the beach and blind cast until you get tight, that’s what it’s about at this time of the year.

Offshore: The Wahoo fishing is slowly starting to taper off right now, but fish are still to be had. Snapper and Grouper of all sorts are still being caught very well. The Triggerfish are still firing aggressively and so are the turbo sized Sea Bass. Grouper can be taken on live bait or whole frozen baits, and same with the Snapper. There have been a few Sailfish caught for the anglers who have been going Wahoo fishing. King Mackerel are moving further offshore right now with the cold so there will probably be a few of them in the mix too.

As always, Tight Lines from Freemans Bait and Tackle


October 11, 2017


The water temperature is still hovering in the low 70’s after this stretch of Southwestern winds. When the next cold front moves into our backyard and it pushes that water to the upper 60’s fish will be on the move, and fish will be chewing. So, make sure your gear is ready because our inshore fishing is about to absolutely go off!

Inshore: Inshore fishing has been decent, but it has not really been firing on all of its cylinders yet. Be ready, because all it’s going to take is one more Northeaster, and the Speckled Trout, Red Drum, and Flounder will begin flooding up and down our beaches, marshes, and our Intercoastal Waterway. Speckled Trout are going to be really aggressive when the water temp hits around the 67-69 Fahrenheit range. You can nail them on baits like the “Storm Swimshad”, “Trout-Trick”, "Berkley-Gulp Shrimp” and “Mirror-lure” (MR18 MR52 MR17 and MR27 models). Focus on areas with a shelly bottom for Speckled Trout at this time of the year. Broken up shell, Oyster Points, and bottom compositions that won’t absorb too much heat are where our Specks like to reside in the early to mid-fall patterns. Flounder fishing is going to get really solid off of the beach. The surf-zone is overlooked by many anglers, but a live Mullet on a Carolina Rig, or else a Gulp Shrimp on a Jig will catch many nice fish off of the beach at this time of the year. Also, places like the Newport River and ICW would be great places if you planned on staying close to home. Red Drum will also be available along the beach. Cut Mullet, Gulp Shrimp, or Live Mullet on a Carolina Rig will all catch Red Drum from the beach. A Mirror-lure off the beach could get you a bite from just about anything that’s following the Mullet, so always carry a few hard baits with you if you are fishing the surf-zone. False Albacore fishing is really good right now; “Breakday Jigs” “Stingsilvers” and “Kastmaster Spoons” are all good choices for the Albertos. You will want a fast and steady retrieve if you are throwing metal spoons for False Albacore. There have been some Pompano, Sea Mullet, Spot, Croaker, Bluefish and Black Drum for the anglers bottom fishing the beach. There are some very large Spanish Mackerel out towards the Cape that are firing off, many of them are over 4lbs. Live-lining a live Mullet on thin wire with a #8 treble hook will do the job for the bigger Spanish. Sheepshead are still here, they are still on bridge and dock pilings chewing away on Sea Urchins and Crabs. Amberjack and King Mackerel fishing has been good, with some really nice Kings showing up in the Shipping Channel, and the Amberjack in areas like Northwest Places and other nearshore live bottoms.

Fly Fishing: Red Drum are available to be taken from the beach on a calm day at this time of the year. Fly fishing the beaches of Bogue Inlet and Browns Inlet are great places. Also, don’t overlook the Fort Macon Rock Jetty, you might get lucky and have a nice Speckled Trout as bycatch. Meaty “Baitfish-Emulator” flies with a lot of orange/chrome/gold flash are great meat whistles to deploy along our beachfront for a hungry Red Drum. Retrieve with a “Strip-Strip-Pause” cadence, it is also important to “strip-set” while you retrieve your fly line. This essentially means that you are setting the hook with every strip of the fly line (you do this so you don’t miss a hook set on a fish). False Albacore are all over the place, the bigger and more aggressive fish have been behind shrimp trawlers, and these fish will also eat a meatier sized fly. The smaller schools of Albies on the beach are fixated on Bay Anchovies, so you’ll want a smaller fly, something like a tan Clouser-Minnow tied on a size 10-12 hook would be a great fly option. Flounder can be taken on the fly right now as well. Focus on fishing calm days on the beach for them with a white-chartreuse colored Clouser-Minnow, or else focus on oyster beds and shelly bottoms along the ICW.

Offshore: Right now the Wahoo fishing has been good. There will be some really large ones caught in the next couple of months. Trolling Ballyhoo with wire is your best option, although we often wonder what a guy could do if he tried slow trolling some live Shad. Sailfish and White Marlin are still chewing for the offshore fleet as well. Bottom fishing for Grouper has been good, but there are a few guys around town who have really been burning them up (We have some really talented Grouper fisherman in this area). Before you know it, all the offshore crowd will be four miles off the beach fishing for Bluefin Tunas! If you are new to offshore fishing, use your electronics and trust them, also never overlook any life in the area.

As Always,

Tight Lines from Freemans Bait and Tackle 


September 20, 2017


It's the beginning of a very special time of the year; our inshore fall fishery is second to none, and it's about to get going. Finger Mullet are pouring through our inlet and down our beaches, it's time to get out there and pepper some fish! 

Inshore: Right now, there is an abundance of Bull Drum located from the South River all the way on out to in front of Cedar Island. These fish are being targeted with popping corks during the day and soaking baits after dark. If you are using a popping cork, you want to make sure that it really explodes on the surface. A 5-7" Jerkshad or else a DOA hollow belly swim bait are great options to attach under your cork. Set your cork only about 20" deep. The louder and bigger the chug it makes, the more likely you are to draw a big red to it. Focus on areas with shoals/islands, or else areas with balls of bait if you are fishing with a cork. If you are soaking baits, then in front of Cedar Island in 15-22 feet of water should get you bites. Fresh cut Mullet, cut Menhaden, or cut Croaker are all great options for soaking. There are also lots of over slot Drum in front of the Coast Guard Station. Spinner Sharks are mixed in with the Drum at the Coast Guard Station. Live mullet (5-8") on a very short Carolina rig (3-8" leader) with a circle hook is the most effective method for catching those fish and you can also target them from the shore of Fort Macon State Park. The Mullet are now in migration mode, and are pouring down the Beaufort Inlet as well as in the white wash of our beaches. Red Drum, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Bluefish, and Black Drum will all be available along the beach from now until late November. The beach fishing is about to really get good. Carolina Rigs with live bait on the beach will get you bites from Flounder and Drum. Casting MR17 mirror lures, MR52 mirror lures, Halo shrimp on a heavy cork, and live shrimp on a heavy cork are all great methods for targeting our Speckled Trout from the beach. Also, most of these fish (Drum, Trout and Flounder) are in the white wash where the waves are crashing, because the waves put the baitfish into a state of confusion. So make sure you give that area of the surf some serious consideration. Black Drum and Sheepshead are still available to be targeted all along the ICW and Core Creek bridge and dock pilings. Live Fiddler Crabs are always effective. Sea Mullet have been biting well after dark along the surf, and can be caught with fresh shrimp on a standard two hook bottom rig. Speckled Trout fishing has been consistent, most of the fish are still in their summer trends, but they will really fire off in the next couple weeks once the water temperature drops off a couple of degrees. Big fish bites on the Trout have still been early morning on baits like the Rapala Skitter Walk, Mirrorlure MR17, Mirrorlure MR18, Paul Brown Soft Dine, and Heddon ZaraSpook. Flounder have really started chewing well, bucktail jigs and Carolina rigs coupled with live Mullet fished in places like the Beaufort Bridge or the High Rise Bridge and the Port Wall have all been good places for a doormat. Gray Trout have made their fall arrival and are thick as thieves; heavy jig heads (1/4oz) with Zman-Paddlerz soft baits have been really effective for them. They will also readily strike lead baits like Sting Silvers fished in a vertical presentation. The Gray Trout have been on deep structure in the ICW. Spanish Mackerel are still around, and these fish are some of the last to leave, and are fully grown ones. Live mullet rigged with thin wire and a small treble hook (live lined) will tempt a big Spanish to chew. In front of the Coast Guard Station, AR315, and under the High Rise Bridge are all great places to try and light line for a big fall of the year Spaniard. On flood tides the slot Drum have been tailing in the grass in the back of Crab Point Bay (the bay behind Fort Macon State Park). There have also been some nice Pompano along the beach, they will eat cut Shrimp, small jigs tipped with Shrimp, or else Sand Fleas.

Offshore: Wahoo fishing is still going very well; most boats that are making the run out to them are being rewarded. Pulling Ballyhoo and high speed trolling are both effective ways to catch them. There have been a few gaffer Mahi mixed in as well as Blackfin Tuna and Sailfish. Blue Marlin are still around as well, the ledge of the Big Rock on out to deep space would be a place you could try pulling plugs or else "bait and switching" a North Carolina Blue Marlin. Bottom fishing has been very good as well; Red Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Gag Grouper, Speckled Hind, Beeliners, Triggerfish, Amberjack, and Vermillion Snapper are all being caught. The best fishing is going to be in 200+ feet of water, but there are plenty of fish around shallower, it just takes a lot of time to find out where they live in the 90-150 foot range. Use cut Squid for the Triggerfish and Vermilions; use dead baits like whole Shad or live baits like Pinfish for the Grouper.

Fly Fishing: The False Albacore have already shown up. They can be taken on small "Gummy Flies" or else small Clouser patterns when seen busting on the surface. Speckled Trout are eating Shrimp, Finger Mullet and Glass Minnows right now; so fly patterns like a Shrimp Clouser, EP baitfish Deceiver, and Shrimp "Gurgler" are all flies you could look up on YouTube and learn how to tie up for them. The Red Drum have been tailing on a flood tide in the grass. Crab Patterns are irresistible to a tailing Red because that is what they are looking for. Bull Drum can be taken on the fly on oversized "Game changer" fly patterns in a Mullet or Menhaden color pattern.

Don't forget to pre-register online for the fourth annual Atlantic Beach Surf Fishing Challenge, October 6 - 8th. Hope to see you there!

As Always, 

Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait and Tackle


August 13, 2017


It has been a great month of August for us. The fish have been chewing and the weather has been great. If you haven’t been fishing, you have been missing out on some solid inshore and offshore action.

Inshore: The Bull Drum have made a good showing in Cedar Island and many places in the Neuse River as well. Depressions in the sand/mud bottoms, shallow bays, and river mouths are all great places to explore during the day. Fishing near schools of Menhaden is a great method for finding them during the day as well. Anglers have been catching them during the day with popping corks rigged with either an oversized Zman-Jerkshad (White or Silver colored) or else with a DOA airhead (White/Silver). When fishing for big Drum with a cork, you really want to make that cork explode, resembling the noise an adult Red Drum would make as it exploded on a Menhaden. You also want to make sure you are fishing the right type of cork. You want the oversized cork, with a circular head on it. When you work your cork, you want to sweep your rod as hard as you can downward, and you want to make sure that it is drawing lots of water with it. If you want an easier method of targeting these fish, stop in to the shop and pick up some of our wide selection of frozen baits. Cut Menhaden, Spot, and a variety of others work great for soaking on a fishfinder rig after dark; particularly in about the 18-22 ft range in front of Cedar Island. Make sure you use a circle hook if you are fishing with dead bait, and do not hold them by their gills. Speckled Trout fishing has been ok. There are plenty of fish around, but it’s really tough to get them to chew during the day. Focus on night moves and daybreak moves. Use a topwater in the mornings, use live baits on either a cork or else a Carolina rig after dark. Live Shrimp has been producing well after dark and we do have some here at the shop. Flounder and slot Drum are around our marshes, the slot Drum have been tailing on flood tides in the grass in Tar Landing Bay. If you like fly fishing, or you are just a visual angler in general, it’s a pretty cool “Cat and Mouse” hunt. Flounder have been residing near bridge pilings, Oyster shells, dock pilings, and nearshore wrecks and reefs. Carolina rigs with a 6-8” mullet is your best option for a doormat, smaller Mullet and Mud Minnows is your best option for numbers of fish, but you never know, Elephants eat peanuts. Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, and confused Cobia can be caught live baiting Menhaden up top on wire rigs at Places like NW places, the shipping channel, and even AR 315. Amberjack are thick on any wrecks out past ten miles. They will nail topwater bubble-trail poppers and live baits as well. Sheepshead and Black Drum are all over dock pilings throughout our ICW. Look for piling with black mussels on them, and use a spatula to scrape the mussels off of the piling, this will will create a Sheepshead and Black Drum fiasco. Ladyfish are here now, and they can be extremely fun to catch, you will want to target them only after dark. You will need a live shrimp and light fluorocarbon for them, they have huge eyes and are very particular feeders. A live Shrimp on a plain hook with no weight drifted under a light source after dark will get you a Ladyfish. They really are an untapped fishery and are known as the poor man’s Tarpon. Speaking of Tarpon, a few anglers soaking baits out of Cedar Island after dark for Drum had a surprise, and jumped/pulled off a couple adult Tarpon this past week.

Offshore: The Wahoo fishing has been very strong. There have also been some very large “Alpha Male” sized fish in the mix. Most fish have been averaging 25-40lbs, however a 93lber was taken out of Oregon Inlet recently, and a 67lber was recently taken here, out of Morehead. Most of the bites are coming on the planer rod, but there have also been plenty of fishing skying on the spread up top as well. Pulling Ballyhoo with wire is the name of that game. There have been Sailfish, Blue Marlin, and White Marlin in the mix of Wahoo as well. Grouper fishing has been productive lately, the deeper water is holding the bigger fish; 40-60 fathoms is a good depth to try dropping on some trophy fish. Use your electronics for both Wahoo fishing and Grouper fishing, look for suspended bait for the Wahoo and look for good bottom contours and marks down low for the Grouper. The Blue Marlin are out there, you just have to spend a lot of time to get a bite; pulling plugs, dink fishing, or bait and switching with a rigged Spanish Mackerel can get a Blue one to chew. We do know of a few folks that have made the trip to Swordfish grounds. However, we have not heard of any being caught recently. They are there, you just have to go out and grind if you want to have a shot at one. Amberjack and Barracuda have been annoying anglers pulling Ballyhoo as well. Triggerfish and B-Liners have been plentiful as usual. Red Snapper are accidental bycatch in this fishery, and there are a LOT of them around. Make sure you release all Red Snapper. You will get peppered by the law if you get caught with one!

As always, keep it tight!

Freeman’s Bait & Tackle


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!