Southport/Oak Island – July 2, 2020
Angie, of Dutchman Creek Bait and Tackle, reports that surf anglers are mostly catching whiting and croaker, with the majority of bites for both coming on fresh shrimp.
The piers are seeing whiting, blues, and pompano, as well as red and black drum. For the drum, try soaking cut bait or live finger mullet.
There’s also been some speckled trout action from the piers. The specks have been small, and live shrimp has been out-producing any other method for targeting the trout.
Inside, the boats are doing well with flounder and black and red drum. The action has been steady using live bait and artificial baits (especially topwaters for the reds).
Bottom anglers have been catching black sea bass, red and vermilion snapper, and grunts.
Tim, of Wildlife Bait and Tackle, reports that speckled trout have been falling for topwater plugs early in the morning and late in the evening. The specks have been interested in both live or artificial bait.
Red drum are abundant along grass banks (and sometimes in the grass) in the inshore waters. Most of the inshore reds are under-slot to mid-slot, but some upper-slot redfish can be found at the nearshore reefs. The topwater bite for the inshore reds is good in the early mornings on Heddon Super Spook Jrs. and MirrOlure Top Dogs. Occasionally, a trout can also be caught in the early morning on a topwater plug.
Black drum are staging in the same spots as the red drum, but they prefer shrimp.
Sheepshead are around dock pilings and other hard structures. Fiddler crabs on a Carolina rig will produce better than anything.
In the surf, the main two species have been pompano and whiting. The whiting are running a little small, but the pompano have been a better class of fish (2-3 lbs.). For bait, go with Fishbites or sand fleas.
Nearshore king mackerel are hanging out around Lighthouse Rock, and the majority of the fish are in the 10-20 lb. range. Further out to the Horseshoe, the larger kings are biting, along with big black sea bass.
The bottom fishing bite has been good for grouper in 90-150’ of water. The other assorted bottom fish—such as sea bass, grunts, porgies, and beeliners—have been steady.
Mark, of Angry Pelican Charters, reports that the nearshore action has been consistent, with better numbers of the summer spanish mackerel runs showing up along the beach. Some nice king mackerel and cobia are feeding from the beach out to the Tower, and the best areas to target are over live bottoms and around structure.
Live bait continues to be a challenge along the beach, but there are pogies in the creeks. The inshore pogies include some larger ones (a good size to use as king baits) mixed in with the peanuts. Big Nic Mack-a-Hoo’s and cigar minnows will also draw strikes from the hungry kings.
Offshore in the 15-40 mile range, mahi can be found over the same live bottoms as the kings. Bottom bouncing for grouper, snapper, sea bass, and triggers has been very productive in depths beyond 70’.
Inshore, there are red drum, trout, and flounder feeding in the creeks, and then reds and flounder are on the nearshore wrecks and reefs, too. Mullet minnows are starting to show up in good numbers, and they are finally big enough to be good baits. The mullet minnows (as well as peanut pogies) have been the go-to for fish on the nearshore reefs.
Ryan, of Fugitive Charters, reports that more keeper reds are showing up inshore. There are still some trout in the mix, but the trout are harder to find. Live minnows or shrimp are the best bait options for finding the reds.
Spanish mackerel are plentiful right off the beach, and trolling spoons behind a #1 planer will produce. The king mackerel are from near the beach to 10 miles out, with cobia also showing up occasionally.
Offshore bottom fishing is on fire (including African pompano), and mahi are starting to make their way inshore.
Wally, of Oak Island Fishing Charters, reports that the flounder and red drum bite has been turning on in the river and on the nearshore ARs, with live mullet proving to be the best bait.
Spanish are just about everywhere, with the most productive fishing coming from Clarkspoon/planer combos in 35’ of water. Kings (anywhere from 8-20 lbs.) are a little deeper in 45-65’ of water, where frozen cigar minnows are getting the most bites. Larger spanish have been mixed in with the kings.
Bottom fishing, especially in depths of 120’, has been producing plenty of grouper, with live pinfish serving as an excellent choice for bait.
Lynn, of Ocean Crest Pier, reports that with the summer heat arriving, there has been a good run of king mackerel. Trout have been plentiful as well, along with spanish, pompano, and whiting.
David, of Oak Island Pier, reports that a few king mackerel have been brought over the rails. Whiting, croakers, bluefish, trout, pompano, and flounder have all been pulled in, too. Live shrimp has been the top producer for everything (but kings).