March is here!
The spring fishing season seems to have arrived early in 2017 which is always a welcomed sight. The temps have been steady in the 70’s and from the looks of the forecast, that is here to stay. We have had a mild winter and that has lead us into early spring patterns. Therefore, the fishing should be great! There are good to great numbers of redfish being caught, a few speckled trout, and black drum. The flounder, bluefish, sheepshead and other inshore species are not far off either with those usually showing in later into the spring. We are really looking forward to stable weather and the inshore fishing to continue to thrive and even improve over the next couple of weeks/months.
The 2016/2017 winter season provided us with some great numbers of under-slot redfish and a few lower-slot fish. As anticipated with our incredible fall bull redfish run, we have seen one of the best winter redfish season in the past 5 or so years. Redfish grow at a fast pace so they should be getting bigger and much stronger with the water temps climbing each day. With this being said, we predict this year to be the best year we have seen for redfish in recent memory. Most of the reds on charters recently have been caught fishing shrimp on light jigheads and Carolina rigs. Normally we are blind casting to fish but when conditions are right, we will get on the shallow flats and sightfish schools on the flats. Also, casting scented soft plastics on Wahoo Salty Flats 1/4 oz jig heads by dropping the trolling motor, covering ground in the creeks and casting to shell points and smaller creek mouths are productive spring tactics to catch redfish.
The speckled trout bite has been pretty good this winter with the warmer temperatures along with the redfish. This is not a specie that is targeted on charters everyday but is always a possibility, especially when fishing with artificials. Most of the trout that are caught will eat a wide variety of soft plastics such as Gulp, Z-man, and DOA baits.
The “other” drum, known as the black drum, is also a very popular fish that we target in the spring and can provide a great fight on light tackle and is delicious as well. Unlike the redfish, you can keep up to 10 fish per person. Currently, we are catching a decent amount but are anticipating a spike in numbers in the next few weeks. This fishery is easy but fun and they can pull as hard or even harder than a redfish, depending on the size. In the spring, most fish range from 13-18″ but it is not uncommon to see some fish over 20″. The best part about black drum is that they typically mix in with the reds, so sometimes it can be a 2 for 1!
Later into the spring is when we begin to see some flounder, sheepshead, and bluefish inshore. Flounder can be caught a few different ways with most fish being caught on live menhaden when we can get our hands on some. The peanut pogies, or small menhaden, can be easy to find and are candies for flounder along with reds. Another cool way to catch flounder is on artificial baits like Gulp or Z-man. Most of the flounder inshore are small but will get bigger throughout the year. Sheepshead can also be caught on structures such as docks and range markers in the river or creeks. They can fight tremendously hard for their size and are incredible tasting. Bluefish tend to show up when the water temperatures get above the mid 60’s. These fish are known for their aggressive behavior and are usually found in large schools that can be easily seen from a good distance away. Unlike most fish we target, they are not known for their great taste but when prepared right, can be a good meal.
Also in late spring is when we start to venture into the ocean nearshore and fish the menhaden schools anywhere from a couple hundred yards off the beach to a couple miles, depending on the conditions and bait location. This can be some of the coolest sightfishing to be done when the water is clear enough. In these schools of bait, there can be a wide variety of big and aggressive fish such as cobia, big spanish mackeral, jack crevelle, and sharks. All of these fish provide hard and exciting fights but the prize fish is the cobia. If lucky enough to boat a couple, they are one of the best tasting fish in the ocean. Lets hope for calm and clear conditions so you can experience this fun filled and eventful fishery.
Thanks for taking some time to read a quick spring 2017 fishing report and learning what is to come for the season. Redfish, black drum, speckled trout are already here and cobia, flounder sheepshead etc. etc. are right around the corner. There is so much to look forward to this charter season and we cannot wait to show you the beautiful and plentiful waters of the Cape Fear area. We wish everyone the best and great fishing to all.