I had the pleasure of fishing with a buddy of mine from Raleigh this past week. Randy owns and operates the web site, NCAngler.com He pulled his 21’ Triumph and brought along a friend of his, Richard.
We headed out about 7:30 on Wed. morning. It was an absolutely calm and virtually windless day. There wasn’t even 6” swells and not a ripple on the water. We headed out of Topsail Inlet aiming for a set of ledges about 13 miles offshore. We fished there for a few hours. It was slow catching but we managed a few black bass.
We headed about another 9 miles out to another series of ledges. As soon as we arrived I knew it was going to be a good stop, the fish finder shown lots of fish through out the water column. We even saw some bait fish breaking the surface of the water.
We dropped our lines down and immediately began catching fish. We caught some very large black bass, a couple of gag grouper, a few pinkies, grunts and tow dogfish (which went back). Then after about two hours and a fish box almost full, the bite just stopped. We fished for an hour or so longer then about 3:30 headed for a reef on the way back where I have good luck catching flounder this time of year. We only had 30 minutes to fish wanting to hit the inlet by sunset. We did manage to catch 2, on was a little short but the other was a nice 3 pounder.
Once again, I fished exclusively with the Shimnao Butterfly system, the other two guys used traditional bottom gear with dead bait. I added a new species to my lengthy list of species caught on the butterfly jigs, a nice size Octopus!
Great day of catching, friendship and boating!
The speckled trout bite is slow but they are still biting, look for the fish in deeper holes and channels now. The drum are schooling in the creeks. A few flounder are being caught but most are undersize. Black Sea Bass are in the 3 mile range with grouper and snapper further out. If you want to head out of the Topsail area, the Stripers are biting in the Cape Fear and some nice Blue Fin Tuna are being caught out of Morehead City.
It’s almost officially winter time. Does that mean the fishing has stopped? Nope, not in these parts anyway. There is still plenty of fish to be caught along our coast. Granted, the bite is slower and you have to work a little harder. However for an avid angler, there are fish to be caught.
Speckled trout and red drum are here all year round as are a few flounder. The big drum head out into the deeper waters of the ocean but the juveniles stay here. They gather in schools when the weather gets cool and can be found in the creeks. Look for them on the sand flats or shallow oyster rocks on a sunny day. Often they will tear up any bait or lure you send their way as the pickings are sparse in the winter. However a slow retrieve works best. Winter often also means clear water, so concentrate on presentation and stealth.
Much of the above goes for specks too. However, they tend to school up in the deep pools and channels. Mud holds warmth longer than sand. So at the beginning of the cold weather, mud bottoms are a good place to look for trout and for an occasional flounder. Yes I said flounder. While most of the flounder head into the ocean when water cools and the large schools of bait depart, some stay through the winter. Again, remember to slow down your retrieve.
The black sea bass have moved into our near shore waters and will remain there through the winter. My favorite way to target them is with 2 ounce diamond jigs on light tackle. Just drop the jig straight down to the bottom and then vertically jig it up and down till you feel a bite. That makes for some fun fishing and some fresh fish on a nice winter day.
Grouper fishing are also good in the winter but you will have to travel out about 20 - 40 miles. And of course if you have the right boat or go on a charter the Gulf Stream fishing is good all winter.
Another option is the Cape Fear River & North East Cape Fear River near Wilmington for striped bass. This fishery has rebounded nicely in the last few years. The stripers in the river don’t get to be as big as those in the ocean but still it’s not uncommon to catch an occasional 20 pound with many in the 5- 8 pound range. Try around hard structure on a falling tide. Just be prepared to loose some tackle as there is plenty of hard structure underwater to cut off your line.
Left the dock about 8:15 this morning and headed out to a spot about 13 miles out of the inlet. Brad, the Associate Pastor at my church went with me. The seas were flat and the wind was calm - awesome weather, and on a Saturday to boot. Brad hadn’t been out on the ocean in a long time and sure picked a great day for his return to the big blue!
Today I decided to exclusively use Shimano Butterfly jigs on a Shimano Trevala rod with the Avet reel. Man those jigs are awesome. I boated a 9 pound grouper, two 18 inch flounders and a hand full of nice sized black sea bass and one white grunt (go figure). Threw back quite a few smaller ones including some smallish but legal BSB.
Nice day & now some good eating!
Gotta LOVE this place!
t’s wacky weather time. More often than not it seems each year we get some wacky weather this time of year.
Sometimes it comes in the form of temperatures that are out of the norm, like an 80 day in February or like this past week when the temperature vacillate between hot and cold. Sunday and Monday we had highs in the 60’s with an overnight in the high 50’s. Monday night thermometer plummeted from 62 in the daytime to 32 that night. A 40 degree shift! Brrrrr.
It pays to wear layered clothing, that way you can add or take off layers depending on the weather at hand. I also try to keep something water/wind resistant on top. That helps to keeps me warm and dry.
The fishing has been decent in spite of the wacky weather. From what I’m hearing and seeing we aren’t having a spectacular speck season this year in this area. Some are being caught but not as consistently or in the huge numbers we have seen the past two years. But that could still change as the water temperatures are still above average for this time of year.
The flounder bite has been got. A lot of little fish are being caught with some nice keepers mixed in. One just has to be patient and persistent. Natural bait, Gulp! shrimp, mirro-lures, X-Raps and Billy Bay shrimp are all working well for the trout and an occasional drum. Finger mullet (yes, there are still some here) and Gulp! are working well for the flatfish.
In the surf some very nice speckled trout are being caught. The north end of the island has seen the best action. The schools of drum are still making occasional visits to the inlets along the shoals. Plenty of grey trout are being caught on the ledges and rocky bottom areas in the 1-3 mile range.
Further out the black sea bass bite is going strong with some decent size fish being picked out of a ton of smaller ones. The grouper are still fairly close. Several of the big charter boats out of Morehead have been catching blue fin tuna if you want to give that a shot.
With the slower fishing season, I’ll be going to an every other week format through March.
I hope you catch ‘em up!