June 28, 2019

The 4th of July is upon us, and the water temperature is climbing closer and closer to a pinnacle every day. Bait fish like White Mullet, Striped Mullet, Menhaden and Threadfin Herring are starting to clog up our inshore water bodies. Fishing around the bait source is a great way to find game fish.
Inshore and nearshore the fishing has been stable. Sheepshead fishing has been decent in the ICW, and port wall areas and there have been some really nice Black Drum to pair nicely with them. Fiddler Crabs have been the go to choice of bait for the Sheepshead and Black Drum, but live shrimp or Sea Urchins can be deadly as well. Red Drum fishing has been solid, but you've got to find the school. The Reds have been in areas like pot holes along the beachfront, marsh areas with good oyster points, shallow water mud flats, and docks along the ICW. Speckled Trout fishing has been good, there are a ton of fish around right now, but in the summertime you really need to focus 100% of your time on the first 30 minutes of daylight if you want to have a shot at a giant. The warm water puts Sea trout into a lock jaw mentality, and that is why morning is the most effective option in the heat of the summer. Slinging top waters at day break along shelly bottoms or grass reefs is the way to go for the Speckled variety.
Nearshore reefs and the ICW have been producing a few Flounder. Live mullet or live shad on a Carolina rig is the best way to target them in warm water. There have been some keeper flatties being taken along the beachfront by surf fisherman as well. Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel and Dolphin have been keeping those live/dead baiting nearshore areas very busy. The King Mackerel fishing is actually really good right now. Tarpon are still being sighted in random stretches along the beach all the way from Bogue inlet to the point of the Cape. Lady-fish are biting live shrimp after dark, and so are a few nice Speckled Trout. Spadefish are still rooting around nearshore wrecks. Surf fishing with shrimp has been great for Sea Mullet, Black Drum, Croaker, and a few Pompano. For those fishing the surf with live bait, you may have a shot at a nice Flounder or a Red Drum. For those casting spoons or jig plastics, the beach has been providing a few Red Drum, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish.
Offshore there has been some decent reports of Dolphin, a few nice Wahoo, some Blackfin Tuna and a few White Marlin for those trolling Ballyhoo. However, you never know when you might encounter a Blue Marlin in your spread at this time of the year. There have been a few guys trying out the Swordfish, but that is always hit or miss. Bottom fishing is still great on the Grouper.
Have a great 4th of July week everyone!
Tight lines from Freeman’s Bait and Tackle🎣🇺🇸

April 29, 2019

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!

March 1, 2019

We hope everyone has enjoyed their winter hibernation. We also hope that you won't stay hibernated much longer because spring is in the air. Be sure to come into the shop and say hi next time you're in the area so we can talk fishing. Without further adieu, let's get to our early Spring fishing report.
In our backyard creeks and Intercoastal Waterway there has been a decent Seatrout bite. The trout bite has been best during the warmer times of the day, but once the water warms to the lower 60's these fish should be active day and night. The fishing in the ICW has been best on the outgoing tide. Trout are following the warmer water and baitfish flushing out of the creeks and into the ICW. When the baitfish leave the Creeks, so do the Trout. Be on the look for Silversides or pods of small Menhaden. If you are targeting Trout in the creeks expect to get bites, but most of the fish have been on the smaller side. However, there have been multiple citations landed in creeks this winter. There are some big females in the creeks still. Most fish have been striking hard jerkbaits, live mud minnows, "Halo-Shrimp", and "Zman-PaddlerZ" coupled with an 1/8OZ-3/8oz jighead, depending on depth and current. More natural presentations in clear water tend to get bites from larger Trout at this time of the year. Yet, on bluebird/sunny days throwing a light color works best, and on overcast days fishing with a darker colors usually works best, due to the reflection and silhouette cast in the water. It's like the Speckled Trout “ROYGBIV" spectrum from art class. If you catch any tagged fish, please report the information to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries at (252)726-7021.
Sea mullet fishing is getting hot in the turning basin and along the “Coast Guard Station-side" of Fort Macon State Park. Two hook bottom rigs with cut shrimp is all you need, anything extra is unnecessary, these fish are simple, they just really enjoy cut Shrimp; and if you have some frozen Sand Fleas they will catch the larger Sea Mullet.
There is a larger class of Gray Trout holding around our nearshore reefs, and they can be taken readily by anglers "snap jigging" Stingsilvers or heavy jig and plastic combinations over live bottom. AR315 is a good option to try and jig for larger Gray trout and possibly Red Drum at this time of the year. Flounder are still further out, but you can get into some nice Flounder on live bottom with warmer water temperatures.
We have not heard any reports of the schools of Bull Drum out at the Cape yet, but have not heard of many people making the run to look around for them either. There are probably a few schools of Bull Drum loitering around near the Cape. Most people cast bucktails to them like Cobia fishing, but if you find a school of them you can catch them on anything that moves. The surf zone is a holding place for schools of slot sized Red Drum in late February and March, the Reds are in fairly shoaly and shallow waters. The Drum tend to "knot-up" very tightly along the beach and
scavenge slowly along the whitewash areas.
Offshore fishing can be dynamite in late February and early March. The problem is getting a nice window of weather to set sail. The name of the game for those trolling Ballyhoo is Wahoo. This fishing can be hit or miss. If you do find the fish, loading the boat is possible. The Spring and the Fall also usually yield some of the biggest Wahoo of the year. While you're trolling, it's important that you pay attention to your electronics, and make sure your comrade is peering holes into your spread of baits. Focus, confidence, and attention to detail are the most crucial things when trying to pattern a hot bite. Swordfishing is an option year round, this fishing requires a long run offshore in addition to a long stretch of beautiful and predictable weather to explore (for most). Bottom fishing is also good year round, so come and grab yourself a Squid Wing. Beeliners and Triggerfish have all been in the warmer water.
We appreciate every one of you who has ever been a customer to us. Freeman's is a team, and our team is a network of good people in this beautiful community, so please show us your support and stop in!
Cheers and tight lines to all from Freeman’s Bait and Tackle.

January 3, 2019

First off, we hope everyone had a blessed Christmas and wish you all a cheerful new year. We have been accumulating a lot of rain lately, which has made for some fairly dirty water, especially during the outgoing tides. Black Drum are being caught by anglers soaking fresh cut shrimp in Deer Creek, and also along bridge pilings in the Intercoastal Waterway. Red Drum are starting to get into tighter schools. At this time of the year, places like Calico Creek bay and Tar Landing Bay "maze" areas are good places to go target them. The Drum will be less aggressive in the winter, so always fish slow, and always fish with scent. Barely dragging a Berkley Gulp Shrimp across the bottom on nothing but a plain hook can be a deadly combination for shallow water Drum.
Speckled Trout fishing has been fair lately. When fishing for Seatrout at this time of the year you want to fish slow, and you want to fish your bait as natural as possible. Neutrally buoyant lures like the Mirrorlure-MR17 and Paul Brown "Soft Dine" are great selections for trophy Seatrout in the winter. These neutrally buoyant presentations are key for stubborn winter trout because they can be fished slower and more precisely in the strike zone for a longer period of time. Any creeks with oysters, baitfish, and deep water near them will be holding some Trout. There have been some short Flounder over-wintering in our creeks along with Speckled Sea trout and Puppy Drum. If you enjoy watching a bobber go down, this is the best time of the year to deploy a slip bobber coupled with a live mud minnow. Utilizing a slip bobber; you are able to quickly change depths and fish your presentation in the strike zone 100% of the time. It seems to work especially well in the winter when our Trout and Drum want something slow and in their faces.
There has been a showing of Black Drum, Sea Mullet, and Puffers for anglers soaking cut shrimp on the beach. The Oceanna Pier could still have some Red Drum and Trout hanging around the pilings. Cast to the pilings of the pier from the beach and fish a slow sinking presentation. Good lure options for the beach at this time of the year are: DOA Shrimp, Mirrorlure-MR18/MR52, Paul Brown "Soft Dine" and Rapala "X-Rap". Trophy Seatrout can be targeted along the beach at this time of the year after dark near rock jetties. Places like the Shack Jetty, Radio Island Jetty, Cape Jetty, and Fort Macon Jetty are all good places for wintertime trout anglers to try. Sight fishing for Red Drum around Shark Island and also Bear Inlet can be fantastic at this time of the year. The Drum will usually be very shallow on the beach, look for them over the tops of shoals, or else right in the whitewash of the beachfront. Soaking some cut Mullet on a "Fishfinder" rig paired with a circle hook is an easy way for surf fisherman to target Drum near the inlets.
Our nearshore fishing is not exactly the name of the game right now. Bluefin Tuna fishing has been slow. Nearshore wrecks and reefs will host plenty of Seabass for bottom fisherman. Snap-jigging heavy weighted plastics or Stingsilvers over nearshore wrecks has produced a few nice Gray Trout. Further offshore there will still be a “January-mix" for those trolling Ballyhoo, with the most common
encounters being Wahoo and Sailfish.
Tight Lines and Happy New Year from Freeman’s Bait & Tackle

November 28, 2018

Now is what we like to call the "turnover" time of the year. The reason is because as the air temperature begins to stay consistently cooler, it produces a rapid drop in the seawater temperatures. The cooler water temperature aids in stabilizing sediment, mud, and rubble on the bottom. Think of it like ice cream, the cooler it gets, the harder it is too. This is a special time of the year for anglers who have a niche for catching large Speckled Trout because Seatrout are visual feeders. Since the bottom is firmer with less sediment in the upper water column, it creates a late fall pattern of clearer/cleaner water so species like Seatrout and Red Drum can find your presentation with ease.
Nearshore: There are still some Flounder loitering around our nearshore reefs on their way out, but they will almost all be gone by the middle of December. 1OZ Bucktail jigs with a Gulp Shrimp over live bottom would be the way to go right now since many of the finger mullet are becoming a little bit tougher to find. Albacore fishing has still been really solid especially for anglers venturing toward the Cape. Casting jerk shads, Kastmaster lures, or fly fishing has been a great way to capture the Alberts. There are still some nice King Mackerel around; Northwest Places would be the place to go to target the Kings right now. Again, if you can find live Shad, more power to you! Otherwise trolling some dead bait rigs coupled with a frozen Cigar Minnow should get your reel smoking.
Inshore: There has been a decent Speckled Trout bite going on, but the bigger fish have been very particular and tough to pattern. Incoming tide will always give you your best shot at a trophy in this area. This is simply because of clearer and cleaner water than the outgoing tide. It is time to start fishing with a little bit more finesse for the Seatrout right now, making slip bobbers coupled with a live mud minnow a premier presentation. Artificial lures like DOA Shrimp, Mirrolures, Trout Tricks, and Zman Diesel Minnows will produce well. However, you will want to start fishing your artificial baits a little bit slower than you would in October or early November. Sometimes the best presentation is actually letting the current sweep your bait naturally and using a "Dead Stick" presentation. Interrupt your "Dead Stick" presentation seldomly with a single light twitch of the rod tip.
Always wet your hands before handling Speckled Trout, always support the belly, and never handle the fish by its gills (unless you plan on keeping it). Another thing to mention is please do not use a dry rag to handle your fish. Speckled Trout slime is composed of “Glycol Proteins" these proteins can aid in the protection against bacterial infections and autoimmune disorders. So, if you take away the fish's slime you are putting that fish at a much higher risk of infection. One more thing (and this goes with all species of fish), if you plan on releasing a fish do your best not to let it bang around on the boat floor. Also, revive your larger fish after longer battles.
If you come in contact with any tagged Speckled Trout, Red Drum, Striped Bass, or Flounder please contact Marine Fisheries with the tag color, tag number, fish length & weight, and any other relevant data that could help aid in the tag return.
Sea Mullet, smaller Black Sea Bass, Black Drum, smaller sized Sheepshead and Red Drum could be encountered in areas around the turning basin for anglers fishing with fresh cut shrimp. There have been some slot sized Drum being captured along dock pilings in the ICW and Taylor's Creek. A good way to locate the slot Drum at this time of the year is to work as many docks as you can until you come across a bite. Once you locate a Red Drum on a specific dock, go ahead and continue to fish that dock because there will likely be more on the same set of pilings. An effective presentation for this style of fishing would be a 4" Molten color Gulp Shrimp paired with a 1/4-3/8 jighead.
The Beach: The beach fishing can be very underrated at this time of the year. There are Speckled Trout and Drum along the beachfront. Most of which have been unblemished due to lower fishing pressure as the fall wears on. We encourage anglers to think outside of the box when fishing the beach. If you have seen a nice pothole give it the “ten cast rule". Deploy ten casts with the bait you have the most confidence in. If you don't get a bite keep walking the beach until you find another nice feature. If you do catch a fish, continue to work that area of beach. Trout and Drum are usually not a solitary dwelling species.
If you are soaking baits like fresh cut shrimp, you might find some Sea Mullet, small Blues, or perhaps some Black Drum.
Offshore: (well really not too far out) Anglers will soon be after the Bluefin Tunas. A good mixed bag is still being taken by bottom fisherman. The trolling bite for Wahoo and Sailfish has been strong lately.
Tight Lines and Happy Holidays from Freeman’s Bait & Tackle 🎣🎄