July 18, 2008

Bottom Fish Are Hiding in the Dark, Dirty Water Catch



Corolla to Coquina Beach

Pier anglers in Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head should land fair numbers of mixed small bottom fish just about every day when the water inshore is somewhat dirty.

Most of these small spot, croaker, pigfish and sea mullet should be taken on small No. 4 to 6 hooks, baited with bloodworms or fresh shrimp. The best action will be on the incoming and high tide when these fish move close inshore along the beach to feed.

Fishing should be good during the day as well as at night, unless the water is exceptionally clear. Small bottom fish tend to remain in deeper water to avoid predators during the daylight when clear water is close to the beach. Quite often they move inshore to feed at night under the protection of darkness.

There is no size or creel limit on small bottom fish such as spot, croaker or sea mullet, but anglers should keep only what they intend to use.

Bottom-fishing anglers also should catch and release some small flounder along with the occasional keeper. Most of the keepers will be decked by anglers using live minnows fished inshore near the surf line close to a pier piling. Anglers can keep eight flounder per person per day 15 1/2 inches or larger in total length. Total length is measured from the tip of the snout with the mouth closed to the top of the compressed tail.

Bluefish should be the mainstay of pier anglers, along with some Spanish mackerel, particularly when the water is clear. Action should be at a peak early mornings as the sun rises, and late afternoons just before dark. Most of the fish will weigh 1 to 2 pounds, and will be caught on Gotcha lures in a wide variety of colors.

Anglers using soft plastic lures inshore near the surf line early mornings when the water is calm and fairly clear should hook a few keeper speckled trout. An occasional puppy drum or flounder also could be decked by a trout angler.

Pier jockeys using live bait such as bluefish or menhaden could snag a nice king mackerel, cobia or jack crevalle from the end of the pier when light onshore winds push clear warm surface Gulf Stream water in close to the beach.

Surfcasters along the northern beaches should land mainly a mixture of small summertime bottom fish like spot, croaker, sand perch and sea mullet. The best fishing should be on the rising tide. A few keeper flounder, possibly some small pompano if the water is warm, and an occasional small drum also should appear in surf catches.

Fair numbers of small bluefish should be taken, along with an occasional Spanish mackerel when the surf is clear. Most of these aggressive fish should be caught on metal lures.

Quite a few bluefish also will be landed on cut bait when the water is dirty. Anglers using fireball rigs should have the best luck. Hooks with steel leaders, and short steel leaders ahead of lures, are a necessity for successful bluefish action because of the sharpness of their teeth. The same is true of Spanish mackerel.

Anglers fishing from the Melvin Daniels Jr. Bridge on the Nags Head/Roanoke Island causeway should catch a few keeper speckled trout at first light each morning. Small spot, pinhead croaker, black drum, a few flounder and puppy drum should be taken from the Daniels Bridge during the day. Anglers can keep one puppy drum 18 to 27 inches in total length 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 lots of sheepshead and some drum around the bridge pilings. Sand fleas, also called mole crabs, should be the most effective bait. Some small bluefish and a few bottom fish also should be taken by catwalk anglers.

Anglers wading in the sound on the inlet's south side should catch a few speckled trout and an occasional keeper flounder.

Speckled trout, a few puppy drum and small bottom fish should be landed by anglers trying their luck from the banks of Off Island Slough behind the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Anglers can keep 10 speckled trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day.

Pea Island to Buxton

Pier anglers along the northern beaches of Hatteras Island should keep busy catching pinhead croaker, small spot, sand perch and pigfish when the water is a bit cloudy. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel should keep pier anglers busy at sunrise and sunset daily when the water is clear. Most of the bluefish should weigh between 1 and 2 pounds. Some of the Spanish mackerel could weigh well more than 3 pounds.

Anglers can keep 15 bluefish per person per day with no more than five greater than 24 inches in total length. There is no minimum size limit on bluefish. Fifteen Spanish mackerel 12 inches or larger in fork length can be kept per person per day. Fork length is measured from the tip of the snout to the middle of the fork in the tail.

Spadefish and some triggerfish should be snagged by pier anglers when the water is clear. Most will be caught by dangling bait close to pier pilings where these fish congregate to feed on small crustaceans and worms.

Quite a few small flounder should be released and a few keeper flounder should be taken.

Cobia, king mackerel, jacks and possibility a barracuda could provide some hot action for live bait anglers if water conditions are right.

Surfcasters in the Rodanthe/Salvo area and along the Avon beach should land fair numbers of bottom fish when the water is somewhat cloudy. A few pompano and some keeper flounder also should be taken.

Bluefish action should be good when the water is clear. Fair numbers of Spanish mackerel also should be beached when conditions are right.

Buxton to Hatteras Inlet

Anglers on Frisco pier will likely deck bluefish and some nice- sized Spanish mackerel just about every day when the water is clear. Bottom fishing should be good when the water is a bit cloudy, with small spot, pinhead croaker, pigfish, a few sea mullet and sand perch taken regularly.

Surfcasters in the Buxton area should catch some bottom fish, keeper flounder, bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel. The best bluefish and Spanish mackerel action should be early mornings.

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel should be landed in the Frisco surf when winds are light and the water is clear. Fair numbers of small bottom fish also should be taken from deeper sloughs in the area.

Bluefish, some Spanish mackerel and small bottom fish will be caught in the Hatteras Inlet area surf if it isn't rough.


Boaters trolling in the Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet areas should have good luck landing small bluefish and mixed-sized Spanish mackerel. Most of these aggressive fish will be taken on small Clarkspoons.

Anglers fishing in sounds west of both inlets should deck speckled trout, flounder and scattered puppy drum.

Headboats in the Oregon and Hatteras inlet areas should catch small bluefish, small bottom fish and a few gray trout. Anglers can keep six gray trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day.

Boaters fishing in deeper water outside both inlets should land some cobia and jacks. Anglers can keep two cobia 33 inches or larger in fork length per person per day.

Anglers bottom fishing in deeper water outside both inlets should deck tilefish, sea bass, snappers, triggerfish and some grouper.


Blue water anglers off Oregon Inlet should catch a mixture of dolphin, wahoo, scattered yellowfin tuna and some big-eye tuna. Billfish action should be good when winds are from a northeasterly direction.

Hatteras offshore anglers should land dolphin, a few tuna, some nice wahoo and some king mackerel. Billfish action should be fair. Anglers can keep three king mackerel 24 inches or larger in fork length per person per day.

Originally published by BY DAMON TATUMDAMON TATEM.

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