Morehead City/Atlantic Beach – August 2020
Matt, of Chasin’ Tails, reports that inshore fishing has been strong, with anglers being sure to get on the water early to avoid the heat. Slot-sized red drum are all over the sound, and they’re hitting everything from topwater plugs to live baits.
Speckled trout are holding along deep grass banks and feeding on live shrimp.
Large sheepshead are being caught with live fiddler crabs and shrimp along bridges and dock pilings. Look for these fish anywhere you see barnacle-covered structure.
Anglers are stocking up on large popping cork setups and cob mullet for targeting the citation-class red drum that are beginning to move into the sound around Cedar Island and north into the Neuse River.
Nearshore anglers are catching a good class of spanish mackerel from the beaches out to 5 miles while trolling spoons and live baits.
King mackerel fishing has been good, with large fish (up to 49 lbs.) being landed from the beaches out to 15 miles. Recent successful setups are Big Nic Mac-A-Hoos and Blue Water Candy dead bait rigs fished with cigar minnows.
A few sailfish are being hooked in this same depth range, with the fish following clean water closer to the beach (as close as 3 miles).
Offshore anglers are pulling ballyhoo out at the break and catching large wahoo (up to 76 lbs.).
The schools of mahi have broken up and pushed inshore a bit, with a scattered bite being reported from anglers targeting kings.
Bottom structure has been producing limits of tilefish, triggers, and cobia.
Paul, of Freeman’s Bait and Tackle, reports that surf anglers have seen a slowing of activity with the recent hot weather. Most action is focused on bottom fishing, which has been producing pompano, sea mullet, spot, and black drum.
Little sharks are scattered around for anglers fishing cut baits.
Pier anglers have been catching scattered kings and good numbers of spanish mackerel on days with cleaner water.
Inshore anglers are reporting good red drum fishing around the high-rise bridge and Newport River marshes.
Some big flounder are hitting Carolina-rigged live baits in deeper holes and ledges in the sound.
Offshore, wahoo fishing has been scattered around ledges in the 200’ depth zone.
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that bottom fishing has been providing the meat on recent trips. Plenty of gag grouper and snapper are holding in the 65-100’ depth range. They’re striking live and dead bait.
Big spanish mackerel and kings are tearing up live baits in the shallower depths (45-65’).
On the inside, red drum, speckled trout, and black drum are feeding in deeper holes along the ICW into the Neuse. Live shrimp has been the hot bait for all three species.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that inshore trips have been finding good numbers of red drum in deeper areas from the inlet back into the marsh flats. These are mainly a mix of slot and over-slot fish, with both hitting Carolina-rigged baits.
Flounder are mixed in the daily catches, also striking the bottom-rigged baits. Most of these fish are legal-sized, and anglers look forward to keeper season opening.
Black drum are feeding on live shrimp fished around docks and bridges.
Off the beach, anglers are finding plenty of larger spanish mackerel (up to 5 lbs.) while fishing live baits and spoons.
Kings are mixed in out to the 60’ range, and they’re hitting the same trolled live baits and spoons, along with dead bait rigs.
Out a bit deeper, anglers are using these same baits to land cobia, amberjacks, and scattered mahi around areas of structure.
Dave, at Cape Lookout Charters, reports that red drum fishing has been very good throughout the area marshes. Anglers are having good action with topwater plugs in the earlier and later part of the day, basically away from the afternoon heat. When not hitting the surface baits, popping cork rigs and live peanut shad are getting strikes.
Speckled trout are hanging around deeper holes along grass lines and up on grassy flats in Bogue Sound. Both popping corks and live baits are producing most of the action.
It has been tough for anglers to avoid all the flounder in deeper holes inshore. The opening of keeper season should be great based on recent catches. Target these fish with Carolina-rigged live baits and soft plastics.
Joey, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that the wahoo bite has been steady through these hot summer days. The wahoo are staged from the break into areas of 60 fathoms and around the Big Rock.
Mahi fishing is a bit scattered with the water temperatures so high. That being said, anglers can still find plenty for the box when locating a group of bailer-sized fish.
Sailfish are around the area in decent numbers, and they’re hitting any of the skirted ballyhoo offerings.
Nearshore trips are producing limits of larger spanish mackerel and bluefish while pulling spoons. A few hard-fighting false albacore are mixed in the nearshore trolling bite.
Wayne, of Oceanana Pier, reports that hot water temperatures have the bottom fishing slowed down a bit. Sea mullet and croakers are being caught with shrimp and sand fleas, but a little break in the heat should see the bite pick back up.
Spanish mackerel are hitting Gotcha plugs and casting jigs when feeding on the surface, which has been more often seen in the mornings.