Saltwater Series: Southport

This sleepy village has more than its share of great fishing holes.

Jerry Dilsaver

September 07, 2011 at 9:48 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The rip-rap at Brown’s landing holds plenty of flounder and red drum.
Photo credit: Jerry Dilsaver
The rip-rap at Brown’s landing holds plenty of flounder and red drum.
Southport is one of those places just about everyone has heard about and some have fished. It is a sleepy tourist and fishing town on the mainland near the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

Southport has an extended waterfront on the Cape Fear. As recently as the 1950s, the riverfront was a working waterfront, with fish houses, shrimp houses, railways and docks for several menhaden fleets. That is pretty much gone now, with the shrimp fleet relocated elsewhere and only one fish house operating.

Across from Southport on the east side of the Cape Fear, is Bald Head Island, where the coastline makes a 90-degree turn to the west. On the west side is Oak Island, which includes the towns of Caswell Beach and Oak Island. Bald Head has southern and easterly facing ocean beaches and an extensive marsh estuary system on the inland side.   

On the inland side, the Cape Fear runs upriver to Wilmington, and the Elizabeth River runs to mid-island behind Oak Island, which wasn’t an island until the Intracoastal Waterway was dredged in the 1930s. The ICW runs with the Cape Fear from Snows Cut on the north end to where it leaves the river at Southport and heads south, behind Oak Island. Several creeks and an extensive marsh system drain into the Cape Fear River, Elizabeth River and ICW.

Not all roads lead to Southport, but several end there. NC 87 and 211 end in Southport and NC 133 bends around Southport and ends at Oak Island. I-40, US 17 and US 421 all provide access from various parts of North Carolina.

The most-popular boat ramp is an N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission ramp on Fish Factory Road; it’s busy and filled to overflowing on weekends. The Commission also operates a ramp at the end of Sunset Harbor Rd. west of Southport, and the town of Oak Island has a pair of free ramps on the inland ends of NE 55th St. and 57th Place West.

Having been born in Southport and having fished the area for more than 50 years, this has always been one of my favorite places to fish. There are plenty of places that hold a lot of fish. Here are a few that are easy to reach:

Browns Landing 33.55.28 N/078.14.25 W

This spot is on the mainland side of the ICW where it intersects the channel to Lockwood Folly Inlet. Rip-rap and rock stabilize the bank, which helps concentrate bait and fish. From late spring through early fall, the ocean water is usually a little cooler than the inside water. On the rising tide, the cooler water runs in through Lockwood Folly Inlet and hits the bank at Brown’s Landing before spreading up and down the ICW.

Predator fish when and why this area holds bait. They hide in the larger rocks waiting for bait to be swept by in the current. Any moving tide can be a good time, with falling tide usually being a little better early in the spring and late in the fall, and rising tide usually being better during the hot months.

The main fish caught here are flounder, red drum and black drum. There are also occasional good runs of sheepshead and speckled trout. The rip-rap can grab lures and rigs and can be difficult to fish. Consider fishing this spot as vertically as possible, or use live bait and let it sit and draw strikes. My favorite approach is to fish weedless spoons or rig soft plastics weedless. This allows you to cover much more ground, and as the fish move up and down the bank, sometimes you have to move a few times to find them.

Editor’s note: This article is part of the Saltwater Series: Southport feature in the September issue of North Carolina Sportsman. To find out the rest of the Southport hot spots, you can download a digital edition of this issue right to your computer or smartphone.

Be sure to subscribe to ensure you don’t miss a single information-packed issue of North Carolina Sportsman.


View other articles written Jerry Dilsaver


Reports / Forum
Take a tree stand, please  This report contains photos  
April 20 at 1:21 pm | 923 Views | 1 Comments
Heaviest bird yet  This report contains photos  
April 19 at 9:31 am | 833 Views | 0 Comments
Catawba Catfish Club Lake Wateree,SC 5-3-14 Tournament 
April 19 at 5:15 pm | 755 Views | 0 Comments
Double with Golden  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:45 pm | 649 Views | 1 Comments
weyerhaeuser hunting land 
April 19 at 2:12 pm | 605 Views | 0 Comments
GT and Viper 
April 21 at 7:46 pm | 573 Views | 5 Comments
First turkey and with a bow!  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 3:29 pm | 527 Views | 1 Comments
Golden Wings  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:42 pm | 405 Views | 0 Comments
Boats Unlimited NC Team Trail Q4 results..Falls Lake..Apr. 12th  This report contains photos  
April 18 at 6:15 am | 393 Views | 0 Comments
Paisley's first turkey 
April 18 at 10:59 am | 353 Views | 0 Comments
Cold, Rainy and Windy Tough on Fishing 
April 20 at 2:23 pm | 341 Views | 0 Comments
Fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 9:18 am | 297 Views | 0 Comments
Tagged Out!  This report contains photos  
Yesterday at 8:54 pm | 293 Views | 1 Comments
taking the boat and 2 year old out(high rock lake) 
April 19 at 1:55 pm | 263 Views | 0 Comments
First Gobbler!  This report contains photos  
Yesterday at 8:44 pm | 245 Views | 1 Comments
Redfish Limits  This report contains photos  
3 hours ago | 27 Views | 0 Comments
Post | Reports | Forum
GT and Viper 
April 21 at 7:46 pm | 573 Views | 5 Comments
Tagged Out!  This report contains photos  
Yesterday at 8:54 pm | 293 Views | 1 Comments
First Gobbler!  This report contains photos  
Yesterday at 8:44 pm | 245 Views | 1 Comments
First turkey and with a bow!  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 3:29 pm | 527 Views | 1 Comments
Take a tree stand, please  This report contains photos  
April 20 at 1:21 pm | 923 Views | 1 Comments
Double with Golden  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:45 pm | 649 Views | 1 Comments
Redfish Limits  This report contains photos  
3 hours ago | 27 Views | 0 Comments
Golden Wings  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:42 pm | 405 Views | 0 Comments
Fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 9:18 am | 297 Views | 0 Comments
Cold, Rainy and Windy Tough on Fishing 
April 20 at 2:23 pm | 341 Views | 0 Comments
Catawba Catfish Club Lake Wateree,SC 5-3-14 Tournament 
April 19 at 5:15 pm | 755 Views | 0 Comments
weyerhaeuser hunting land 
April 19 at 2:12 pm | 605 Views | 0 Comments
taking the boat and 2 year old out(high rock lake) 
April 19 at 1:55 pm | 263 Views | 0 Comments
Heaviest bird yet  This report contains photos  
April 19 at 9:31 am | 833 Views | 0 Comments
Paisley's first turkey 
April 18 at 10:59 am | 353 Views | 0 Comments
Boats Unlimited NC Team Trail Q4 results..Falls Lake..Apr. 12th  This report contains photos  
April 18 at 6:15 am | 393 Views | 0 Comments
Post | Reports | Forum
Redfish Limits  This report contains photos  
3 hours ago | 27 Views | 0 Comments
Tagged Out!  This report contains photos  
Yesterday at 8:54 pm | 293 Views | 1 Comments
First Gobbler!  This report contains photos  
Yesterday at 8:44 pm | 245 Views | 1 Comments
GT and Viper 
April 21 at 7:46 pm | 573 Views | 5 Comments
Double with Golden  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:45 pm | 649 Views | 1 Comments
Golden Wings  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 7:42 pm | 405 Views | 0 Comments
First turkey and with a bow!  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 3:29 pm | 527 Views | 1 Comments
Fishing Happy Day Today  This report contains photos  
April 21 at 9:18 am | 297 Views | 0 Comments
Cold, Rainy and Windy Tough on Fishing 
April 20 at 2:23 pm | 341 Views | 0 Comments
Take a tree stand, please  This report contains photos  
April 20 at 1:21 pm | 923 Views | 1 Comments
Catawba Catfish Club Lake Wateree,SC 5-3-14 Tournament 
April 19 at 5:15 pm | 755 Views | 0 Comments
weyerhaeuser hunting land 
April 19 at 2:12 pm | 605 Views | 0 Comments
taking the boat and 2 year old out(high rock lake) 
April 19 at 1:55 pm | 263 Views | 0 Comments
Heaviest bird yet  This report contains photos  
April 19 at 9:31 am | 833 Views | 0 Comments
Paisley's first turkey 
April 18 at 10:59 am | 353 Views | 0 Comments
Boats Unlimited NC Team Trail Q4 results..Falls Lake..Apr. 12th  This report contains photos  
April 18 at 6:15 am | 393 Views | 0 Comments
Post | Reports | Forum

Free Classifieds

NEW REMINGTON 870 TACTICAL/ULTIMATE COMBAT SHOTGUN
NEW REMINGTON 870 TACTICAL/ULTIMATE COMBAT SHOTGUN
This new 870 was built for one purpose to save your life or your family's. It has form function and reliability. Has a Mesa Tactical recoil reducing 6 position stock. There is no felt recoil even with 3 inch buck plus the stock is comfortable in...
Yesterday at 12:46 pm | 26 Views
2009 Yamaha RHINO 700 SPORT Package Very Rare
2009 Yamaha RHINO 700 SPORT Package Very Rare
LIMITED SPECIAL EDITION (INCLUDING SPORT PACKAGE OPTION HAS BETTERrnSHOCKS WITH PIGY BAGS THAN STOCK RHINO PLUS HAS UPGRADED STEERINGrnWHEEL AND SHIFTER ALL OEM CAME FROM YAMAHA ) YAMAHA, S ULTRAMATICrnV-BELT TRANSMISSION ,VERY WELL PROVEN IN LONG...
4 hours ago | 12 Views
G3 Gator Tough 1860 CC Tunnel
G3 Gator Tough 1860 CC Tunnel
70hp Yamaha 4 stroke with 6' jack plate, only 25 hours. 2012 custom fit float on/off trailer w/removable tongue, Mossy oak W/ Bimini top. Fish finder, GPS, 55lb Min Kota trolling motor, live well, cooler bench seat with leaning post, two lockable...
April 19 at 11:35 am | 170 Views
Still Hunting Deer Club
Still Hunting Deer Club
Membership available in still hunting deer club for the 2014-15 season. Club has almost 4,000 acres of leased land and owns 55 acres with a two story club house. Club is located in Warren county about 5 miles from Littleton. Club dues are $725.00....
April 21 at 7:43 am | 131 Views
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Excellent Desert Eagle 40 caliber Hand Gun For Sale,6 ' barrel,semi rnrnautomatic,& made by Magnum Research,right here in the USA,& comes with 1-7 rnrnround magazine, super heavy duty fitted carry case with soft rummer rnrninside,take down...
April 20 at 3:13 am | 44 Views
MDBR Hunting Club has 4 openings!
MDBR Hunting Club has 4 openings!
MDBR Hunting Club is a small 10 member club with a 350 acre lease near Gulf, NC (Chatham County). No Dog Hunting in Chatham county! Very peaceful area! Membership dues pay for lease & insurance. Anyone interested should visit our website at...
April 22 at 1:41 pm | 46 Views
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Baby Desert Eagle 40 S&W for $250
Excellent Desert Eagle 40 caliber Hand Gun For Sale,6 ' barrel,semi rnrnautomatic,& made by Magnum Research,right here in the USA,& comes with 1-7 rnrnround magazine, super heavy duty fitted carry case with soft rummer rnrninside,take down...
April 20 at 3:18 am | 73 Views