• Offshore Fishing

    Kathryn McClure and Cory Swink pose with the 66-pound king mackerel that McClure caught last week out of Holden Beach.

    Angler catches 66-pound king mackerel on her first offshore trip

    An angler’s first offshore fishing trip is often something they’ll never forget – especially if they land a 66-pound king mackerel. That’s exactly what happened to Kathryn McClure while being guided by Cory Swink aboard the Hawg Hunter. They trolled a stretch of live bottom about 20 miles off of Holden Beach on July 23 to produce the incredible catch, which measured 63 inches long with a girth of 28.5 inches.

    July 26 at 9:11pm
    Brayden McMullan, Brant McMullan, Barrett McMullan, Dylan Stone, and Conner Yates pose with one of the recent daylight swordfish caught out of Brunswick County.

    Swordfish run has bluewater anglers daring to attack the heat

    For years, swordfishing off North Carolina’s coast meant spending the night offshore, fishing multiple live and dead baits at staggered depths from an illuminated boat. It could be productive, but the trip itself was an ordeal. But local anglers have recently found out that South Florida-style daylight fishing works just as well, if not better — if catches over the past week are any indication.

    July 25 at 3:37pm
    Jason Edwards' state record pigfish is on his left-handed stringer, and would have been lost in the shuffle of similarly-sized fish if not for the quick thinking for the Fishing Center crew.

    State record pigfish caught out of Cape Lookout

    Pigfish aren't a species that immediately brings visions of deeply bent rods and screaming reels, but there are N.C. state and IGFA world records and Jason Edwards' May 23rd catch has been approved for one and is pending for the other. Edwards' pigfish weighed 2 pounds and 12 ounces which bested the former N.C. state record by a half pound.

    July 22 at 11:14am
    Anglers like Greg Dreibelbois are allowed to keep one amberjack per day; this one has no problem exceeding the 28-inch size minimum.

    Many rules govern snapper, groupers

    The snapper-grouper complex in the South Atlantic includes 59 species, as determined by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

    July 15 at 7:00am
    Greg Dreibelbois of Gastonia battles a large amberjack fishing offshore with Capt. Kevin Sneed.

    Weather, vessel size are keys to offshore fishing

    Weather and boat size are keys to bottom-fishing in the ocean.

    July 15 at 7:00am
    Jeff Deamer of Gastonia caught this 30-pound gag grouper in 135 feet of water, 33 miles offshore from Holden Beach.

    Holden Beach’s offshore buffet awaits anglers on bottom-fishing trips out of Holden Beach, N.C.

    “This is between you and me!” Jeff “Shug” Schucker shouted at a fish 150 feet below the keel of Kevin Sneed’s 31-foot Pro Kat. “And you better believe I’m gonna win this one!” 

    July 01 at 7:00am
    Sailfish push into nearshore waters off the east side of Cape Fear every July.

    Hit Cape Fear this month for a shot at sailfish

    All billfish are special, but sailfish are the ones most likely to be encountered by fishermen other than those specifically seeking billfish. One of the best locations to catch sailfish north of Florida is in the waters around Cape Fear. Unlike blue and white marlin, sailfish readily abandon the Gulf Stream and move inshore following baitfish once the water warms above 70 degrees. 

    June 28 at 3:21pm
    Tim Street poses with the new North Carolina state record skipjack tuna he caught on May 24.

    Valdese angler catches new skipjack tuna state record

    Tim Street of Valdese took his first offshore fishing trip on May 24, hoping to catch some dolphin and tuna — which he did. He didn’t think he’d return to the docks with a 32.5-pound skipjack tuna that has been certified as the new state record for that species.

    June 21 at 4:53pm
    Ethan Ingle is an all-around angler, and likes mixing bass fishing gear in with his offshore tackle.

    Try these tactics to catch dolphin out of Hatteras Island

    The dolphin are thick off Hatteras Island, with a good mixture of peanuts and gaffers mixed in, and anglers are finding them without having to venture too far offshore.

    June 08 at 1:37pm
    Mercury Marine's Skyhook system eliminates the need for anchors, linking the outboard system to satellites that keep the boat in place.

    Don’t anchor out again

    Anchoring technology has come a long way since the early days of boating. Power-Poles and Minn Kota Talons are remote-controlled anchoring systems that are great for inshore anglers, and Minn Kota’s iPilot and Motorguide’s xi5 trolling motors lock on to a satellite through GPS and keep a boat’s position steady, leaving anglers free to fish without having to worry about the boat slipping off the fishing hole.

    May 27 at 12:05pm
    Yellowfin tuna are a big part of the late-spring offshore catch out of Oregon Inlet, where charter boats run into them at the edge of the Continental shelf in an area called “The Point.”

    It’s yellowfin tuna time

    Yellowfin tuna may be just a memory for bluewater fishermen along much of the south Atlantic coast, but if you’re heading out of Oregon inlet in a big offshore boat, they’re very much a part of the fishing scene, especially in June.

    May 27 at 11:26am
    NOAA Fisheries rules that red snapper fishing in the Atlantic Ocean will remain closed for 2016.

    No red snapper season for 2016, say federal fisheries managers

    Fishermen won’t be allowed to keep any red snapper in the Atlantic Ocean this year, after a May 20 announcement from NOAA Fisheries explaining that the total number of fish removed from the population in 2015 exceeded the allowable catch and discard level — somewhat surprising since there was no open season last year.

    May 25 at 10:22am
    Although the great majority of dolphin landed wind up on someone’s dinner plate somewhere, a tagging program is providing fisheries managers with tremendous information about dolphin, their lifestyles and habits.

    Catch-and-release dolphin? Really?

    Catching a dolphin and releasing it may sound like sheer lunacy to some bluewater anglers, but there is a sound reason to let a few go each year. 

    May 15 at 7:00am
    Dolphin grow at a tremendous rate, rarely living a half-dozen years and reaching maturity less than halfway to their first birthday.

    Dolphin grow fast, die young and taste good

    Few organisms in the ocean can match the fast life cycle of the dolphin fish, coryphaena hippurus. Dolphin reach sexual maturity at four to five months, where it takes a king mackerel three years to spawn. The world-record dolphin, 87 pounds was believed to be slightly less than five years old. By comparison, the world-record king mackerel, a 93-pound fish, was thought to be closer to 25 years old.  

    May 15 at 7:00am

    Rigging a Dink Ballyhoo

    1) Using a thawed, small/medium, high-quality ballyhoo, remove the bait’s eyes with an arrow shaft.

    2) Use cutting pliers to remove the bait’s pectoral fins.

    May 15 at 7:00am
    The first run of dolphin that appears off North Carolina’s coastaline is usually made up of bigger fish, known as gaffers because they’re big enough that landing them requires a gaff.

    Great for gaffers - May is a great month to catch gaffer dolphin

    It’s a warm, early morning in the middle of spring, with a slight breeze out of the southwest. Stephen Hunter keeps his Cape Horn center console in Holden Beach, but he often chooses to use the Cape Fear River channel when leaving before dawn, for no other reason than the reliability of its water. Picking his way behind Oak Island and Southport, he makes a starboard turn into the channel, slips into the ocean, then pushes the throttle down and heads offshore.

    May 01 at 7:00am