September 5, 2008

Small Bottom Fish Should Keep Pier Anglers Busy Catch of the Week



Corolla to Coquina Beach

Pier anglers should catch quite a few small bottom fish along the northern beaches of Dare County this week.

Mixed-sized spot and some small croaker should be landed in good numbers if the water is somewhat murky and the wind is northerly.

The best action should be on the incoming or high tide when the fish move inshore close to the beach to feed. Bloodworms are the preferred bait, and anglers using small number 4 to 6 hooks will have the most luck because of the small size of the fish. Most of the spot should average three to the pound, but a few fish weighing more than 3/4 pound are possible.

Some pigfish, scattered sea mullet and sand perch should be taken regularly along with the spot and croaker.

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

Anglers fishing close to the surf line with shrimp or sand fleas should deck some pompano. Sand fleas usually produce good pompano action. These small crustaceans, also called mole crabs, live in the surf zone amid the breakers and are a favorite food of pompano and also of sea mullet.

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel action should be good from the ends of ocean piers just about every morning after sunrise and just before dark when the water is clear. Most of the Spanish mackerel and bluefish will be caught on Gotcha plugs.

Bluefish weighing between 1/2 and 3 pounds also will be landed on fresh cut bait on bottom rigs or fireball rigs when the water is dirty. Spanish mackerel feed by sight and usually hit only lures, whereas bluefish feed both by sight and by smell.

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.

Fifteen Spanish mackerel 12 inches or larger in fork length can be kept per person per day.

A few nice-sized speckled trout should be decked by pier jockeys using soft plastic lures. A few also will be taken by bottom- fishing anglers using bait. The best lure fishing for trout should be early mornings when seas are calm and the water is fairly clear.

Live-bait anglers could haul in a big king mackerel, cobia or jack at any time when light onshore winds push clear warm Gulf Stream water close to the shoreline. Anglers can keep two cobia 33 inches or larger in fork length per person per day.

Surfcasters along the beaches from Corolla south to Coquina Beach should catch spot, croaker, some small pompano, sea mullet, sand perch and pigfish in deeper sloughs all along the beach. Most of the pompano will be landed on sand fleas or fresh shrimp. Gold hooks also increase the likelihood of catching pompano.

Quite a few small bluefish and an occasional Spanish mackerel should be taken in the surf on metal lures when the water is clear.

Schools of menhaden moving up and down the beach in an area is an indication of lots of bluefish. The bluefish stick close to the menhaden schools which are one of their favorite sources of food. Jigging through or near the menhaden school quite often produces a bluefish strike.

Anglers trying their luck from the Melvin R. Daniels, Jr. Bridge on the causeway between Nags Head and Roanoke Island should catch some keeper speckled trout and a few flounder every morning at sunrise. Puppy drum, black drum and small bottom fish should be landed sporadically later in the day.

Oregon Inlet Area

The north shore of Oregon Inlet has recently been reopened to angling traffic after a lengthy closure because of nesting bird activity. Surfcasters fishing in this area should beach a variety of fish. Some sea mullet, spot and puppy drum should be taken on bait, along with bluefish, keeper flounder and mixed sizes of pompano.

Anglers fishing from the catwalk on the south end of Bonner Bridge across Oregon Inlet should catch sheepshead, mixed-sized bluefish and small bottom fish.

Puppy drum, trout and flounder should be landed by wading along the shoreline on the south side of the inlet.

Pea Island to Buxton

Pier anglers in Rodanthe and Avon should have good fishing this week. Spot, croaker, sea mullet and pigfish should be taken fairly steadily by bottom fishing anglers using bloodworms or fresh shrimp. Fair numbers of pompano will be decked, including some weighing more than a pound. Some spadefish and sheepshead should be caught by dangling bait close to a pier piling.

Quite a few small flounder should be hooked and released, and a few nice keeper flounder will be taken. Most of the nice-sized flounder will be decked by anglers using live minnows or bait strips fished close to a pier piling on or near the bottom inshore along the beach. Anglers can keep eight flounder 15 1/2 inches or larger in total length per person per day in the ocean.

Plenty of tailor bluefish and some nice-sized Spanish mackerel should be landed on metal lures when the water is clear. Gotcha lures are the most productive bait for this type of fishing.

Surfcasters on the northern beaches of Hatteras Island should catch small croaker, some spot, sea mullet and pompano. A few keeper flounder also should be taken.

Some puppy drum should be caught, especially when the surf is a bit rough. Most of the drum will be landed on cut bait, but a few will be taken by trout anglers using artificial lures. Anglers can keep one puppy drum 18 to 27 inches in total length per person per day.

Bluefish and some nice Spanish mackerel should be beached regularly when seas are light and the water is clear. Most of these aggressive fish will be caught on Stingsilvers.

Buxton to Hatteras Inlet

Anglers on Frisco pier should deck quite a few small bluefish and some nice Spanish mackerel when winds are light and the water is clear. Small bottom fish such as spot, croaker and sea mullet should be taken on bloodworms on the rising tide when the water is dirty.

Some keeper flounder, pompano, an occasional puppy drum and sheepshead also should appear in pier catches.

Flounder and sheepshead should be landed by surfcasters near the Buxton jetties.

Bluefish action should be dependable at Cape Point with the fish hitting the beach just about every morning and every day late in the afternoon.Spanish mackerel weighing between 1 and 3 pounds will be mixed in with the bluefish on a fairly regular basis. Quite a few keeper puppy drum should be caught at the cape with the best action when it's a bit rough. Some drum too large to keep also should be hooked and released.

Small bottom fish, some puppy drum and bluefish should be landed in the surf along the beach just south of Cape Point almost every day.

Surfcasters along the Frisco beach will catch some bluefish, Spanish mackerel, small bottom fish and an occasional puppy drum.

Hatteras Inlet surf fishing should be productive with keeper puppy drum taken and some big drum hooked and released. Some bluefish, Spanish mackerel and bottom fish should be landed daily.


Trollers in the Oregon and Hatteras inlet areas should deck plenty of bluefish and scattered Spanish mackerel on Clarkspoons. Long leaders produce the best results when the water is very clear.

Boaters fishing in the sounds west of both inlets should catch speckled trout, flounder, puppy drum and small bluefish. Additionally, some keeper gray trout, a species that has been scarce for many years, should be taken by Hatteras Inlet boaters.

Anglers can keep 10 speckled trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day, and six gray trout 12 inches or larger in total length per person per day.

Headboats in the Oregon Inlet area should land some small bottom fish and flounder. Flounder action will be best when onshore winds push clear water into the inlet. Live minnows and strips of squid or strips from the white portions of a fish are the best baits for flounder.

Headboats in the Hatteras Inlet area should deck bluefish, flounder, small bottom fish and an occasional drum.


Blue water anglers off Oregon Inlet should catch late summer dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna. Some big-eye tuna weighing considerably more than 100 pounds also should appear in catches.

Billfish action off Oregon Inlet should be good during periods of northeast winds with lots of white marlin hooked and released.

Bottom fishers off Oregon Inlet should land triggerfish, lots of tilefish and sea bass.

Hatteras offshore anglers should deck lots of dolphin and quite a few nice wahoo. A few yellowfin and blackfin tuna will be taken. Fair numbers of king mackerel should be caught regularly, including some nice-sized fish.

Scattered numbers of billfish should be released with sailfish in the majority.

Boaters bottom fishing off Hatteras should catch tilefish, snappers, grouper and sea bass in good numbers.

Originally published by BY DAMON TATUMDAMON TATEM.

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