Morehead City/Atlantic Beach – September, 2020
Matt, of Chasin’ Tails, reports that flounder fishing has been great since the season opened. Large flatfish (up to 9+ lbs.) are coming from both inshore deep water areas with structure out to nearshore wrecks and ledges. Carolina-rigged live baits have been the top producing setup in both zones, with bucktails and soft plastic trailers also getting a lot of action at the nearshore areas. A major advantage to fishing bucktails is keeping the smaller bait-stealer species off lines.
Red drum fishing has been steady all summer long, with most fish holding in deeper areas to avoid the high water temperatures. A variety of live bait, topwater plugs, spoons, and soft plastics are producing strikes.
Speckled trout are feeding more sporadic in the heat, with most being caught by anglers fishing early and late in the day.
The areas around Cedar Island and up into the lower Neuse River are starting to see the push of citation-class red drum. Large popping corks fished around bait balls and cut mullet along ledges are both getting action. Over the next few weeks, this bite should really pick up with the arrival of more bait.
Paul, of Freeman’s Bait and Tackle, reports that anglers found plenty of good-sized flounder (up to 7 lbs.) with the opening of keeper season. The flounder are staged around port structure, railroad trestles, and fuel docks in inshore waters. Nearshore, anglers are targeting the rock jetty and local ARs. Both live bait and slow-worked soft plastics are having success.
Spanish mackerel are being caught from the inlet out to the nearshore ARs. Over the next month, the bait running out of the inlets should really fire the bite up.
Offshore fishing has been sporadic which can be typical for mid-summer anglers. Wahoo, scattered mahi, and bottomfish dominate the counts.
Surf anglers are reporting great bottom fishing with fresh bait shrimp. A mix of sea mullet, spot, pompano, black drum, and croakers are all possibilities in a day’s trip.
Spanish mackerel are working within casting distance of the beaches on days with clean water.
Chris, of Mount Maker Charters, reports that flounder are being caught all over local waters. On some days, Spro bucktails with Gulp baits fished at nearshore wrecks are the hot ticket. Then the next day, it takes moving to inshore ledges with Carolina-rigged live mullet.
Speckled trout fishing remains great for it being summertime. The trout and mixed-slot redfish are staged from the ICW to deeper areas within mainland creeks. Live baits have been best for the inshore fish, with Gulp soft plastics also getting their share of action.
Anglers looking for citation-class red drum are working areas north from the mouth of the Neuse out towards Cedar Island. Large popping cork setups are best when scouting bait schools in the mornings, while soaking bait on Lupton rigs has been better from afternoons into the evening hours.
Justin, of Breakday Charters, reports that flounder fishing has been the big news with keeper season kicking off. Easy limits of flounder are coming off nearshore structure, with most being larger fish. Jigging Breakday bucktails tipped with Z-Man and Gulp soft plastic trailers has been working great, and time of day hasn’t mattered.
Some good-sized gray trout (up to 23”) are also staged on these same reefs, and they’re hitting jigs.
Inshore trips have also been locked in on the flounder, with action being found around deep holes close to structure.
Slot-sized red drum and speckled trout are being caught around deeper grass banks with soft plastics under popping cork rigs.
Dave, at Cape Lookout Charters, reports that great inshore fishing continues, with a strong redfish bite on topwaters. Heddon Super Spook and MirrOlure Top Dog plugs in both light and dark colors are getting the drum actively striking.
The speckled trout bite is beginning to pick back up from their summertime low season. Both topwater plugs and soft plastics under popping corks are getting in on the action. Live baits are also great options, with mullet, shrimp, and peanut shad all producing good-sized fish.
Inshore flounder fishing is excellent and will continue through September as the bait schools begin to move around in the sounds.
Joey, of Dancin’ Outlaw, reports that wahoo have been providing most of the action to anglers running out to the break. Hot water temperatures usually have the bite slow around late summer, but this year has proven different, with many trips returning with a good amount of meat.
Blackfin tuna are mixed in the same trolling action, and they’re hitting skirted baits.
Bottom fishing has been great for anglers looking for a break in trolling action, with good numbers of vermilion snapper and triggerfish hitting cut baits.
Closer to the beach, limits of spanish mackerel are providing plenty of action from beaches around the inlet out to nearshore reefs.
King mackerel are pushed out in the 15+ mile range, mostly found suspended over ledges and rocks.
Wayne, of Oceanana Pier, reports that good-sized flounder (up to 3+ lbs.) dominated the action on opening week of the season.
Spanish mackerel fishing has been really good, but getting on the planks early has been key to getting in on the action.
Bottom fishing has been slow due to dirty water along the beaches, with sea mullet being a majority of the catch.