Inshore Fishing


Spot On! Catch spotted bass in Cape Fear River with these tips

The Cape Fear is one of the longest and most diverse rivers in North Carolina. Beginning at the tailrace below B. Everett Jordan Dam, it flows 202 miles before reaching the ocean near the town of Southport.

Along its rout, it has been known as a great fishery for catfish, striped bass and redfish. More recently, it’s become known for another species — the spotted bass.

Most anglers associate the term spotted bass with other regions — and they aren’t wrong. The Alabama spotted bass is prevalent across the south; however, it is that fish’s cousin, the “northern spotted bass,” that has taken hold in the Cape Fear. Also known as the Kentucky spotted bass or simply a “spot” Micropterus punctulatus is the spotted bass species prevalent in the river, as well as in Lake Norman and other parts of the Catawba River system.

October 04 at 6:45 am

The speck revival - Swansboro is playing host to a speckled trout revival

Fred Slann, a guide from New Bern, his friend Chris Walker of Sea Island, N.J., and a visiting writer had one of the most fantastic trout-fishing days ever 10 Octobers ago in the North River east of Beaufort.

October 01 at 7:00 am

Kings on the throne - The fall run of king mackerel off the Cape Fear River and Oak Island, N.C.

October is a special time in the ocean around the mouth of the Cape Fear River at Southport, where king mackerel gather between and try to devour every baitfish they can, arriving the last week or so of September and increasing in numbers until mid-October, when the slowly begin to move off the beach. The fishing can be epic, and there are special days every year.

October 01 at 7:00 am

Paddle, fish but be safe

I headed out in my Old Town Predator 13 with the †intention of drifting along the western shoreline of Radio Island from the turning basin inside Beaufort Inlet. I have fished the area many times from a kayak. Barges, tow boats and occasional large ships pass through regularly. Whether in a paddle-powered craft or a small skiff, you always have to be wary of the larger vessels.

September 28 at 9:00 am

Top 3 redfish lures

While the redfish bite has stayed steady all summer, it’s been heating up even more lately. The waters around Morehead City are cooling off as air temperatures have starting dropping a little earlier than normal this year. Bait is plentiful, and redfish will spend the next month or so gorging themselves on this abundance, knowing that it won’t be long before the bait leaves the inshore waters.

With so many baitfish around, anglers can catch redfish on a variety of lures. They all look similar to some type of bait that is currently present. Brandon Key spends much of the year fishing in freshwater, but this time of year, he switches to redfish in the Morehead City area, and he fishes exclusively with three types of lures.

September 16 at 7:02 am

Early cold fronts may jump-start seasonal trout movement

Typically, September is often as much of a summer month as August, with 90-degree days and 100-percent humidity, but it is not out of the question for fall weather to show up early.†

September 15 at 7:00 am

A new tactic for bull reds

Fishermen along North Carolina’s coach now have two relatively new techniques for catching old bull reds, not just one.

In 2013 a few months after fishermen in the Pamlico Sound discovered that large, soft-plastic minnows fished under popping corks would “old” drum, Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters, discovered the tactic of catching old drum under bait balls just off the beaches of Brunswick County.

September 15 at 7:00 am

A snelled hook works for old drum

When an angler decides to target bull reds, he should learn to tie the strongest knot possible to attach hooks to terminal tackle.

For guide Kevin Sneed of Holden Beach, who has been fishing for 20 years, the solution is to tie a “snell” knot.

September 15 at 7:00 am

Easily remove hooks and avoid sharp Spanish teeth

Spanish mackerel have such small, razor-sharp teeth that many fishermen who are nipped don’t realize it until they see drops of blood or bloody fingers. Most fishermen are nipped while removing the hooks.

September 15 at 7:00 am

Saltwater ponds are great flounder holes

Flounder are one of the most popular gamefish along the coast of both Carolinas, and many anglers overlook some of the most abundant flounder spots in either state, but those who fish for them catch plenty on live bait and artificial lures. Saltwater ponds hold a number of different species, including flounder. Many of these fish find their way into saltwater ponds when they are small and can easily swim through the tiny culverts that often handle the incoming and outgoing tide, and once they get in, they never feel the need to leave.

These fish are relatively free from predators once they reach maturity, and the fishing pressure is usually very light in comparison to the well-known fishing holes up and down the coast. They are not particularly difficult to catch, but most anglers pass right by them to get to one of the boat landings in hopes of catching flounder elsewhere.

September 11 at 2:58 pm

Z-Man introduces a new combo that should give speckled trout nightmares

South Carolina’s Z-Man Fishing Products has introduced a combo intended to appeal to speckled trout and the anglers who target them, a TroutTrick soft-plastic lure that’s mated with a Trout Eye jighead.

September 10 at 10:54 am

Angler lands 156-pound tarpon from Jolly Roger Pier

Jolly Roger Pier in Topsail Beach was the site of a flurry of tarpon activity last weekend as the silver kings chased mullet along beaches. The largest fish came on Sunday, Aug. 30, when Justin Avery of Creedmoor decked a tarpon that measured 78 Ĺ inches long with a girth of 35 5/8 inches. The Bonefish and Tarpon Trust weight calculator estimated the fish at 156 pounds.

Avery, who had hooked and lost a tarpon on Saturday, came back Sunday with full intentions of redemption. Although technically pin-rigging for king mackerel, he admits that a tarpon was his target.

September 08 at 12:01 pm

Surprise cobia catch off Avalon Pier

Jake Worthington of Camden was fishing for king mackerel on the south corner of the Avalon Pier last week when he got a big surprise. Instead of a king, Worthington caught a 60-pound cobia that fought him for almost an hour before coming close enough to the pier for another angler to gaff.†

That it was a cobia was not the biggest surprise to Worthington. “That’s my sixth cobia of the year off the Avalon Pier, so I wasn’t completely shocked, but it is a little bit late in the year for that species,” he said. He caught most of the other cobia between June and the end of July, when he said they typically move in and out of Kitty Hawk Bay. Worthington’s biggest surprise came when he actually landed the fish after getting hung in three other king anglers’ anchor lines.†

September 04 at 9:01 am

Take a Neuse River speckled trout for a walk

As a sizzling summer comes to a close along the North Carolina coast, the fall fishing season is just getting started. With enormous schools of bait and shrimp in the sounds and rivers, inshore gamefish are putting on their food bags with a vengeance. For early rising speckled trout junkies, there is not a better moment to walk their favorite surface lure along the banks of the Neuse River.†

September 01 at 7:00 am

Big reds? Play ball! Brunswick County anglers discover great fall tactic for catching old drum off the beaches

Saltwater fishermen know that July and August are the best months to chase the big spawning channel bass known as “old” red drum in Pamlico Sound.

September 01 at 7:00 am

Mining fall mackerel - Find the right depth to troll your spoons and youíll harvest more Spanish mackerel in the waters off Carolina Beach

Once he cleared the sandbars outside Carolina Beach Inlet, Rennie Clark turned his boat to the south, and with the rising sun over his shoulder, he began rolling over the small swells headed down the beach towards Fort Fisher, smiling and talking but keeping watch for bait, birds or other signs of fish on the surface and his fish finder.

September 01 at 7:00 am