Bottom Fish Should Be Feeding in the Surf Bottom-Feeding Fish Should Enjoy the Surf on Their Turf
By DAMON TATEM
BEACH, PIER AND BRIDGE FISHING
Corolla to Coquina Beach
Surf fishing for small bottom fish should be generally productive this week along the northern beaches. Small croaker, spot and some mixed-sized sea mullet should be caught from deeper sloughs along the beach on the incoming and high tide. Most of these fish should be taken on small number 4 to 6 hooks, baited with fresh shrimp or bloodworms. Some pompano also should be landed if winds are light and the water is warm.
Anglers using sand fleas, also called mole crabs, should have the best luck catching pompano and larger-sized sea mullet. Pompano, sea mullet and other bottom feeders move inshore near the beach to feed on sand fleas, which inhabit the high-energy area along the surf line. There is no size or creel limit on spot, croaker, sea mullet or pompano, but anglers should keep only what they intend to use, and release the small ones.
If seas are a bit choppy, surfcasters also should land a few nice- sized puppy drum. Anglers can keep one drum 18 to 27 inches in total length per person per day. Total length is measured from the tip of the snout with the mouth closed to the top of the compressed tail.
If the water is clear close to the beach, some bluefish and possibly a Spanish mackerel or two should be taken on metal lures. Bluefish also will be caught on fresh-cut bait fished on bottom rigs or on fireball rigs when the water is dirty.
Anglers can keep 15 bluefish per person per day with only five greater than 24 inches in total length. There is no minimum size limit on bluefish. Anglers can keep 15 Spanish mackerel per person per day, 12 inches or larger in fork length. Fork length is measured from the tip of the snout to the middle of the fork in the tail.
Pier anglers in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head should deck small bluefish from the ends of piers fairly regularly early mornings and late afternoons when the water is clear. A few Spanish mackerel also should appear in catches. Most of the fish will be landed on Gotchas but a few will be taken on bucktail rigs.
Live bait anglers fishing from the ends of ocean piers have a fair chance of hooking a cobia, jack crevalle or king mackerel if inshore water temperatures are high and the water is very clear. Light onshore winds push warm clear surface water from the Gulf Stream close along the beach, producing ideal conditions for catching a big blue water fish. Anglers can keep two cobia 33 inches or larger in fork length per person per day, and three king mackerel 24 inches or larger in fork length per person per day.
Some spadefish and triggerfish also should be landed by anglers fishing close to pier pilings when the water is warm and clear. These fish move inshore in late summer to feed on small crustaceans that live among the marine growth on pier pilings. Anglers can keep 20 spadefish and 20 gray triggerfish per person per day. There is no minimum size limit on these fish.
Bottom fishing should be good with plenty of small spot, some croaker, sand perch, pigfish and sea mullet decked when winds are northerly and the water is a bit murky. The rising tide will be the best time to fish, and bloodworms, fresh shrimp and artificial bloodworms will be the most productive baits.
A few pompano also should be taken by anglers using sand fleas or shrimp if the water isn’t very dirty. Some speckled trout should be caught early in the morning close to the surf line when winds are light. Anglers using soft plastic lures should have the best luck.
Fishermen on the Melvin Daniels Jr. Bridge on the Nags Head/ Roanoke Island causeway should land a few keeper speckled trout and flounder at dawn just about every morning. Some small bottom fish should be caught later in the day. Anglers can keep 10 speckled trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day. Eight flounder 14 inches or larger in total length can be taken in internal waters per person per day.
Oregon Inlet Area
Anglers fishing from the catwalk on the south end of the Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet should land some sheepshead, black drum, small bottom fish and an occasional bluefish.
Surfcasters in the Oregon Inlet area should beach some small bluefish, bottom fish and a few keeper flounder. Anglers can keep eight flounder 141/2 inches or larger in total length per person per day in the Atlantic Ocean.
Pea Island to Buxton
Bottom fish should be plentiful along the northern beaches of Hatteras Island this week, including plenty of small croaker and spot. Surfcasters should reel in fair numbers of large sea mullet and some nice-sized pompano, with sand fleas producing the best catches. A few flounder, black drum and a puppy drum or two also should appear in catches. Bluefish, along with some Spanish mackerel, should keep lure fishermen busy when winds are light and the surf is clear.
Pier fishermen in this area should deck good numbers of small croaker, spot, sand perch, pigfish, pinfish, some sea mullet and small black drum. Some pompano should be taken when conditions are good. Spadefish, triggerfish and some sheepshead will likely be caught around pier pilings when the inshore water is warm and clear. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel should be landed sporadically on Gotcha lures when the water is clear. Most of the action will be early mornings and just before dark.
Buxton to Hatteras Inlet
Surfcasters in the Cape Point area should have good luck catching Spanish mackerel and bluefish on Stingsilvers when the water is clear at sunrise and sunset. Good numbers of small bottom fish, some keeper flounder, a few pompano and some puppy drum should be taken in the area during the day and also at night.
Some nice pompano and sea mullet should be caught regularly along the Frisco beach. Surf fishermen in the Hatteras Inlet area should land bluefish, Spanish mackerel, pompano and a mixture of small bottom fish.
When winds are fairly light and seas are moderate, pier fishermen will deck a mixture of small bottom fish, a few gray trout, pompano and some tailor bluefish, along with Spanish mackerel, some weighing well over three pounds. Anglers can keep seven gray trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day. Some nice-sized flounder also should be taken by anglers using live minnows or strips on the bottom close to the shoreline near the pier pilings.
INSHORE TROLLING, BOAT FISHING
Boaters trolling in the Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet areas should catch plenty of small bluefish and some nice-sized Spanish mackerel on Clarkspoons and nylon rigs.
Speckled trout should be landed in good numbers along with some puppy drum in the sounds west of Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet when winds are light. Lots of small bottom fish also should be taken in the same areas.
Drift fishermen in Oregon and Hatteras inlets should deck some keeper flounder when winds are onshore and the inlet water is clear.
OFFSHORE, GULF STREAM
Blue water fishermen off Oregon Inlet should catch lots of dolphin including some nice big gaffers. Fair numbers of wahoo also will be landed, along with scattered yellowfin tuna and an occasional big-eye tuna weighing more than 100 pounds. Scattered billfish should be released. Billfish action should be best when winds are moderate and from a northerly direction.
Hatteras Gulf Stream anglers should deck plenty of mixed-sized dolphin, lots of wahoo, a few yellowfin tuna, an occasional blackfin tuna and some king mackerel. Billfishing should be fair, with mainly sailfish released.
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