With Easter weekend looming, I wanted to get an up to date fishing forecast up for everyone. It has been warm and the weather looks to be good, so I'm sure you will want to go fishing. It is shaping up as if it might be a good time to be out, so get your gear ready for some action. Easter is early this year, but it has been so mild that it doesn't appear to be a problem.
Red drum are holding in most of the marshes and creeks along the entire NC coast. The water is very clear in most places and they can be spooky, so be careful as you move about and especially as you approach fish you have seen. Most days they have been responding fairly well, but occasionally they seem to ignore almost any bait.
Some speckled trout are being caught in Davis Canal and Wildlife Creek at Southport and Oak Island, along with a few from the Banks Channel bridges and Masonboro Inlet jetties at Wrightsville Beach, and some at the Cape Lookout Jetty and several inshore creeks around Morehead City. Some are also moving about in the creeks just off the Pamlico Sound, Pamlico River, and Neuse River.
The striper activity continues to be very strong at Manns Harbor. This is a special management area, with its own season and limits, so verify everything before you go. The NC Division of Marine Fisheries Web Site is at www.ncdmf.net and the striper regulations are on a sub-page. Other striper hotspots include the Neuse River, near New Bern, the Pamlico/Tar River, near Washington and the Roanoke River, near Plymouth. There have also been a few stripers caught well up the Roanoke River, near Weldon. This is a little early for the action around Weldon but several things are early after the mild winter. This action should continue building until early May. The inshore regulations vary in different areas. Check the current striper regulations before you head out fishing.
Surf and Pier
Most of the ocean piers have opened for the season. The rest will open by Easter Weekend. The current pier action is mostly blowfish and small bluefish, but a few sea mullet and gray trout are working their way into the mix. There are also some black drum moving along the beaches. A few large drum have been caught in the Outer Banks surf. The drum are mainly from Avon to Cape Point.
There have been some occasional good catches of smaller speckled trout along the jetty at Cape Lookout. Captain Dave Dietzler has reported some schools of large drum and still an occasional striper along Shackleford Banks. It is time for the drum, but the striper should be gone. That will happen soon.
Some blowfish, small blues, and occasional false albacore, a few sea mullet, and a scattered gray trout or two are scattered along the beaches. The sea mullet should start biting well at any time, followed by some numbers of gray trout in a few weeks. Remember the mixed limits for gray trout. It is 10 fish, if they are all over 14 inches long. If you have one between 12 and 14 inches, you can only keep 4. You can't keep any less than 12 inches.
Sea Bass and grouper are biting well from around 60 feet of water on out. There is an article in the April Carolina Adventure with some good information about catching these tasty fish.
Schools of spring kings are scattered along in 100 feet of water just about everywhere. There is even an occasional large one mixed in.
When the weather has allowed, there have been some good catches of yellowfin tuna around the Steeples, Swansboro Hole, Big Rock, Diamond Shoals Tower, and at The Point. There have also been some larger tuna (70 to 80 pounds) in the catch. Some wahoo, a few dolphin, and even some kings are also in the mix. This action should continue to improve until about Mother's Day.
Capt. Jerry Dilsaver