Fish Post

Northern Beaches – Winter 2019-2020

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Betty, of TW’s Bait and Tackle, reports that the northern beaches are seeing good numbers of dogfish and skates being caught by anglers fishing Carolina-rigged cut mullet. Some slot-sized red drum are mixed in, and the reds are hitting the same cut mullet.

Black drum and sea mullet are being brought in from the deeper holes with shrimp fished on bottom rigs, and speckled trout in the surf zone are being landed with soft plastics and shrimp (but many are smaller fish).

Sound-side anglers are enjoying spectacular speckled trout fishing. The cooler water has the fish moving either towards the inlet or the mainland. MirrOlures and soft plastics have been the most productive lures.

Striped bass fishing has been picking up with water temperatures dropping. Anglers are targeting pilings of the old Manns Harbor Bridge and other local bridges with 4-5” soft plastics. A few anglers are reporting limits of a 4-5 lb. class of fish.

Scattered puppy and slot-sized red drum are being caught from the Wanchese area to the inlet.

Nearshore fishing has been slowing down, with anglers targeting schools of false albacore, and bottom fishing has been producing keeper black sea bass and triggerfish.

Offshore anglers have been doing well in finding yellowfin and blackfin tuna out at the break. A few bigeye tuna (to 230 lbs.) have been mixed in, and wahoo are still being caught on skirted baits.

King mackerel are feeding near areas of structure as they push back offshore.

As winter sets in, surf anglers should focus their efforts in bait fishing the deeper holes. Cut mullet and shrimp tend to be most productive in finding dogfish, skates, sea mullet, bluefish, and red drum.

The sounds will continue to produce speckled trout, though many will move up into mainland creeks or out into the surf zone. Striped bass fishing gets better and is a main target in the winter months. These fish stage up around bridge pilings and similar structure as they prepare to move into the mainland rivers to spawn. Larger 4-5” soft plastics and bucktails are go-to local favorites for targeting these fish on structure.

Offshore anglers will be targeting yellowfin and blackfin tuna all winter long, and the last few years have seen a good bluefin tuna fishery.

Melissa Phelps with a rockfish caught on the Roanoke River. She was fishing with Capt. Joey VanDyke of Fingeance Sportfishing.

Bridgette, of Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, reports that yellowfin and blackfin tuna action is strong, with many boats returning with double-digit numbers of fish.

Citation-class wahoo (to 40 lbs.) are mixed in the counts, as well as a few late season mahi.

Bigeye tuna (to 171 lbs.) are being caught on skirted baits, as they’re running with the yellowfins.

Nearshore bottom fishing trips have been finding limits of keeper black sea bass and triggerfish.

Inshore anglers are reporting good numbers of stripers being caught around area bridges.

As the weather starts to settle into its winter pattern, offshore anglers will continue to successfully target yellowfin and blackfin tuna through the end of January.

Rob Shurford and his sons with a tiger shark caught at Cape Point in Buxton.

Aaron, of Carolina Sunrise Charters, reports that anglers are hooking good numbers of speckled trout as they work their way out of the sounds into the surf zone. MirrOlures and soft plastics have been the most productive baits.

Puppy drum are mixed in, with most being caught on soft plastics and Carolina-rigged baits.

Rockfish are hanging around the sound-side bridges, and they’re hitting soft plastics jigged in deeper holes along the pilings.

Anglers fishing the area over the winter will be focused on the stripers around these bridge pilings, and speckled trout fishing should stay steady through the end of the year.


Gerry, of Fishing Unlimited, reports that speckled trout are being caught early and late in the day with scent-based soft plastics. Fishing the baits under corks and slowing down the retrieve has been productive. A few are also being caught on bottom-rigged shrimp.

Striped bass are beginning to show up in better numbers. As the water cools, these fish like to stage up against the pilings and under the bridge. Casting soft plastics on 1/4 oz. jig heads is a popular way to get these schoolie-sized fish to bite.


Laurie, of Pirate’s Cove Marina, reports that tuna fishing has been good, with a mix of fat yellowfin and blackfin tuna. A few citation bigeye tuna (to 230 lbs.) are in the counts, and they’re hitting the same skirted baits.

King mackerel fishing has been good, with mostly larger fish coming back to the docks.

Nearshore anglers are targeting the larger black sea bass as they move into structure closer to the beach.

Through the winter, offshore trips will continue to target both yellowfin and blackfin tuna. Bluefin tuna have made a strong showing the past few years, and anglers are hoping this year is no different.


Andy, of Nags Head Pier, reports that a few speckled trout are being caught. These trout have been small, but they should stick around for a little longer.

Through the winter, anglers can catch plentiful dogfish, skates, and the scattered red drum while fishing cut baits.


Laurie, of Jennette’s Pier, reports that bottom rigs with shrimp have been successful with sea mullet, hake, pufferfish, and gray trout, and puppy drum and dogfish are being caught with Carolina-rigged cut baits.

A few black drum are mixed in, and they’re biting shrimp on both Carolina and two-hook bottom rigs. The black drum sizes have been all over the place, with one being small and the next slot-sized. Speckled trout are also feeding on the shrimp, though the bite has been slowing down.

Over the next few months, anglers bottom fishing have chances at dogfish, skates, sea mullet, puppy drum, black drum, and (possibly) bluefish.


Justin, of Avalon Pier, reports that anglers are finding scattered puppy drum with Carolina-rigged cut mullet, and a few bluefish are hitting cut baits and shrimp fished on bottom rigs.

Speckled trout fishing continues to be steady, with good numbers of 16-20” fish being caught with soft plastics fished in deeper holes around the breakers. Bottom fishing with shrimp has landed trout as well.

Striped bass are mixed in, and they’re hitting the same soft plastic swimbaits.

The next few weeks will see the trout move out of the area, but schoolie-sized stripers should hang around the pier, as in past winters.

Bottom fishing with mullet will produce sharks, puppy drum, and bluefish.


John, of Bob’s Bait and Tackle, reports that surf anglers are beginning to catch good numbers of dogfish with cut mullet, and a few speckled trout are being caught using shrimp and soft plastics in the deeper sloughs between sandbars.

Some red drum are being caught on the Duck area beaches with cut baits fished early in the morning, and sea mullet are hitting bottom-rigged baits from Duck down to Kitty Hawk Pier.

Sound-side anglers are reporting good numbers of striped bass hanging around the Manns Harbor Bridge.

Surf anglers can be successful through the winter by soaking Carolina-rigged cut baits for red drum and dogfish.


Keith, of Corolla Bait and Tackle, reports that surf anglers are catching scattered red drum and dogfish with cut baits.

The striped bass bite has begun to turn on in the sounds, and they can be targeted with soft plastics around area bridges.