The red drum fishing has been picking up inshore. More fish are starting to spread out into shallow water in the creeks and back in the marsh. Topwater baits like the Yo-Zuri 3D Inshore have been catching some of the fish, soft plastics like the Gulp Jerkshad or Z-Man EZ shrimp rigged with little to no weight are another good option. A few anglers are reporting speckled trout, the fish will hit topwater baits or shrimp imitations under a popping cork, especially early in the morning. As the weather warms up the trout, as well as bluefish and ladyfish will start feeding under dock lights at night. Red and black drum are being caught around docks and deeper holes in the creeks. Fresh dead shrimp, cut mullet, or mud minnows fished on a jighead or carolina rig has been working. There has been some decent flounder fishing in the inlets. The bulk of the fish have been undersized, but more keepers are starting to mix in. Gulp shrimp and Jerkshads have been catching most of the flounder.
Fishing in the Cape Fear River has started to pick up as well. Good reports of flounder and red drum have been coming in. Live menhaden are catching most of the fish, however larger Gulp and ZMan soft plastics will also work. Some Speckled trout have been caught in the river as well, Mirrolure 17MR's and Z-Man Trout Tricks are good lures to star with.
Surf anglers are reporting a few sea mullet, croaker, pompano, and black drum, mostly on shrimp and Fishbites. Bluefish, ladyfish, Spanish mackerel and some small flounder have been reported as well. When the water on the beach is clear, the mackerel and ladyfish can be caught on small casting jigs, ranging from 1-2oz. The most consistent fishing for Spanish is usually at dawn and dusk.
Some good numbers of Kings and Spanish mackerel have showed up. Reports on the kings have been coming from 5-20 miles offshore recently. Live Menhaden, Cigar minnows on dead bait rigs, and Yo Zuri Deep Divers have been catching plenty of kings. Most of the Spanish have been within 5 miles of the beach, with some great fishing just outside the inlets this week. Troll clarkspoons behind lead weights or planers, use smaller spoons like the 0 and 00 sizes for the Spanish. Casting jigs rigged with a fluorocarbon leader and fished with a very fast retrieve are great for the Spanish and also false albacore when they are mixed in. Fishing for Black Sea Bass has been good in the 10-30 mile range. Squid on a two hook bottom rig or a 2oz Roscoe jig will work. There are also plenty of amberjack being caught in this same range The grouper fishing has been good, most anglers are going 25+ miles out, but some gag grouper can be caught closer in. Live cigar minnows and pinfish are the best options, but frozen cigar minnows, squid, and strips of false albacore will also work. Attach these baits to a Barefoot Decoy Jig or just a bottom rig with a large 8/0 - 10/0 circle hook.
The cobia fishing has been getting better as more schools of bait have been making their way up the beach. The fish will hang around the nearshore AR's, buoys, and inlets. You can cast bucktails covered in pro-cure and tipped with larger Z-Man soft plastics towards fish that you have spotted or just in productive areas. Bottom fishing with cut or live bait is another good option; bluefish, pinfish, and menhaden will all work as bait. Flounder fishing at the nearshore AR's has picked up as well, with a few Grey trout also in the mix.
**The 2017 NC Cobia Season opened on May 1st and will remain open 7/days a week through August 31st. Cobia must be at least 36" to keep, measured to the fork of the tail. Possession limits are 1 fish per-person-day with a maximum of 4 fish per-vessel-day. These regulations are only effective from 0-3 nm. Outside of 3 nm it is illegal for a recreational angler to possess any Cobia. The NCDMF is asking that anglers fill out a catch card at a NC Citation weigh station or report the fish online at http://ncrecfish.com/cobia/. Reporting your fish is a recommendation and not a requirement, it is intended to provide more accurate landings data and aid in future management.
The weather this week allowed for a lot of boats to make the run to the gulf stream. Trolling for Mahi has been great. A variety of baits and lures have been working. Skirted small and medium sized ballyhoo are the #1 option, but plenty of fish have also been caught with plugs. Plugs with a lot of action have been the most productive; Trident Lure Micro's, BWC's Flying Scooter, Green Machines, and cedar plugs to name a few. Keep a topwater popping rod with a Williamson Jet Popper tied on for any schooled up fish around the grass. The wahoo and blackfin tuna bite has remained decent, as well. Trolling larger ballyhoo rigged with wire on the planer or shotgun lines has been accounting for most of the wahoo.
The Blue Marlin bite has been just as strong, with a few white marlin in the mix as well. Trolling larger 12" plugs and Medium sized ballyhoo are the bait of choice when chasing these fish. Utilizing a BWC dredge will increase your chances of bringing in some billfish.
Heading inshore around 200'-300' the bottom fishing has been very strong as well. Large Trigger Fish are readily biting cut bait and squid on bottom rigs; pinkies, and beeliners will also take the same offering. Have another rod working a BWC Roscoe Jig or a Mantis Jig for Red Grouper and African Pompano.