Capt. Noah Lynk of Noah's Ark Fishing Charters said that while Spanish mackerel are beginning to taper off year, the ocean around Cape Lookout is holding bluefish, king mackerel, false albacore, speckled trout and flounder, and the marshes were full of puppy drum, trout and flounder, too. There's enough going on to make any fisherman happy.
"My clients have been having some excellent mixed days for several weeks," said Lynk (252-342-6911). "Many days, we fish the ocean early for blues and Spanish, and then move to the marshes and catch flounder, pups and a few trout."
Lynk said trout have been the most unpredictable, but they're generally biting best early and late. Some have already showed up at the Cape Lookout rock jetty, and some are around the bridges across the North River and Wards Creek. However, one of the most popular and productive spots wasn't producing well this year.
"Trout fishing has been off around the Harkers Island Bridge and causeway this fall," Lynk said. "They are working on the small bridge by the fishing pier, and it is very noisy. They have one lane of the road closed, and there is always something crossing the temporary bridge and making a racket. From force of habit, I stop there occasionally, but it just hasn't produced this fall."
Lynk is catching the bulk of his fish on soft-plastic Salty Bay Lures and Jig Fish Lures from Sea Striker. He particularly likes the shrimp shapes and paddletail shad shapes.
Lynk said flounder and red drum have been feeding together in shallow water; e trout have usually been a few feet farther off the bank in deeper water. He said the last of the mullet minnows are leaving the creeks, heading south, and predator fish are lining up to eat them. He's been using the lightest jighead that will carry the bait to the bottom, casting upcurrent and letting the current sweep the lure back.
"There are also a good number of flounder just off the beach at Shackleford Banks," Lynk said. "They are just beyond the breakers where the mullet are running down the beach. Northerly winds make the beach calmer and the water clearer and are usually the best for fishing. The flounder have been there several weeks and should be there until the water cools drastically. A high number are keepers too."
Lynk said he likes to catch flounder with soft plastics, because he doesn't have to wait to set the hook as he does with a live bait. When retrieving a lure, he said, you can feel the thump of a flounder picking it up, but he doesn't grab it and run. When this happens, give the fish a second or so while you get any slack out of the line and then set the hook firmly.