According to Capt. Rick Patterson of Cape Crusader Charters in Cape Carteret, summer has been good for fishing along the Crystal Coast. A variety of fish are being caught in nearshore and inshore waters, and flounder and red drum lead the catches.
“We’ve got flounder from the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs to the creeks off the Intracoastal Waterway,” Patterson said. “There is still a mixture of keepers and shorts, but the number of keepers is growing. The flounder are biting jigged baits, especially in the ocean, and live baits. Most fishermen will probably do better with live baits as long as they don’t get impatient and try to set the hook too early.”
Patterson (252-342-1513) said redfish have been active, and his favorite way to catch them is on topwater lures like Top Dogs and Spooks; they’re smacking them early in the day when they’re chasing mullet minnows around the edges of the grass.
Reds have often been in the same places as flounder, and they will jump on live baits intended for flounder. They will also hit baits and artificials suspended under popping corks, with Gulp! being an excellent choice. He’s also catching reds on spinnerbaits.
One other fish that’s biting plenty – and doesn’t get nearly enough attention – is the sheepshead. They like structure and lots of it, and they also like moving water.
Patterson said bridge pilings have been great places to find sheepshead. Most fishermen think about fiddler crabs as the best sheepshead bait, but he catches more and larger fish on sea urchins, which are harder for sheepshead to get off the hook.