Can you believe it‚Äôs already March??? I have to say this winter has not been to bad overall, fingers crossed we make it through April mild and that would be a great start to the summer!¬† The fishing has already been a little better with the milder weather; it really is looking good for this spring!¬† Here are the fishing opportunities for March that I like to target.
In March the Redfish finally start to move around a little more than they have all winter.¬† Not that they don‚Äôt move around in the winter; they just start to show up in place‚Äôs they like more during warmer times of the year.¬† This is the time of the year you need to get out and find where the Redfish are going and showing up.¬† In the cooler months I‚Äôve seen crustacean patterns work better for Redfish; due to the fact that these baits are a little easier to catch, than say baits like fish patterns.¬† A good handful of our local shrimp has wintered over because of the mild winter weather, also some of the little baitfish stayed too.¬† All of this will make for a better March fishing scenario for sure!
On warmer days the crustaceans and baitfish will move more; these are the days you need to look for Redfish during March.¬† Working scented baits like Berkley Gulp and Gulp Alive in patterns two and three inch shrimp, two inch peeler crab and 3‚ÄĚ ghost shrimp should get the Redfish to bite.¬† These baits don‚Äôt have paddle tails so you can work them very slow, which is still very important because the water still be pretty cool in March.¬† Find those banks where the sun can warm up shallows just a little more than other places.¬† Look for dark bottom banks and places with less current these are the areas where the water will be warmer and the Redfish will be feeding.¬† Remember to keep your eyes peeled in the shallow water areas for Reds, March can be a very good sight fishing month; just make sure you work the baits a little slower with a fluorocarbon leader for those clearer spring waters.
March can be another mouth when Cape Fear River Striped Bass fishing will pick up.¬† The Striper size is very mixed during early spring.¬†¬† In March the Stripers will start to move in to a little bit shallower waters, I look for the Stripers in three to eight feet of water during early spring.¬† This is when you need to also shallow up your presentation, go lighter with you tackle.¬† I prefer Berkley Gulp jerkshad and Berkley Havoc grass pig lures; I use colors pearl, chart pepper neon and new penny (swamp gas).¬† Using swim bait hooks size 6/0 in 1/4 to ounce should put a Striper on the end of your line!¬† You can also cast mid-water crank baits that dive three to eight feet, don‚Äôt let the lure drag the bottom to much or you will lose your lure to a stump or log!¬† Look for Cape Fear River Stripers around mud-flat edges, bulk-heads, creeks and shallow reed-grass edges on sunny warmer days.
Don‚Äôt count out a nice Speckled trout during the month of March! But what is a trout going to hit in March?¬† This is when you need to know where to start; what lures to try?¬† One of my favorites is the good‚Äôole MirrOlure; it‚Äôs been around a long time and it is still catching fish, but its cold so work them SLOW!¬† The patterns I prefer are the 17MR, 18MR, 52M and 52MR.¬† Colors; MirrOlure makes a lot of different colors but here are some of my go too colors around Wrightsville Beach area waters.¬† MirrOlure color codes: 11, 21, 26, 51, 704, CFPR, CH, EC, HP AND Capt. Jot Custom color (only found at Tex‚Äôs Tackle shop).¬† Any local tackle shop can help you with these color codes. Best depths to use these lures; 17MR use these lures in two to six feet of water.¬† 18MR, 52M & 52MR use these lures in four to fifth-teen plus feet of water.
There is another kind of fishing I like to try in March but there is no saltwater involved.¬† I like to hit the upper Northeast Cape Fear River and Sutton Lake the do a little Large-mouth bass fishing.¬† If you want to try something different try some bass fishing, they are a lot of fun to catch on lighter tackle.¬† Most of the time I use heavy sink worms from Berkley Powerbait in colors black, red shad and blue-flick.¬† Work these worms very slowly off banks and stump beds.¬† If you like to fly fish, try slow sinking small minnow patterns along the grass flats in Sutton Lake on cloudy or foggy days.
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels sizes2000, 2500 & 3000 for the Redfish, Large mouth Bass and Striped Bass.¬† PENN Battalion rods in 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ & 7‚Äô medium and med/hvy action; line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in ten and fifth-teen pound; Berkley Pro Spec Fluorocarbon for my leaders in twenty to thirty pound.
Thanks for reading, get outside and I hope March fishing is good to you!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Fishing Tackle Elite Staff
February in Southeast NC is one of the tougher months to get out and fish, the weather windows are much smaller and the temp can be downright cold some days.¬† But it‚Äôs not all doom and gloom, fishing can be great during February especially when we have mild runs of weather.¬† So far this year we‚Äôve had a very up and down weather pattern so when the mild runs are here; that‚Äôs the time to go fishing!¬† Here are a few species I target around Wrightsville Beach other areas of Southeast NC.
Cape Fear River Striped Bass are one of my favorites for winter fishing in our area.¬†¬† I look for the Stripers on drop offs, around pilings and creek mouths.¬† Working baits like Berkley Gulp five and six inch jerkshads and Berkley Havoc grass pigs should get you a bite or two from a Striped Bass.¬† I prefer white and chart pepper neon for the jerkshad and pink, swamp gas and chartreuse silver flake in the Havoc grass pig. I rig my jerkshad and grass pigs on swim bait hooks, in 1/4oz weight.¬† Mid water crank baits work too, try lures that dive from three to eight feet deep for best results, Rapala X-raps work well.¬† If the crank bait starts to hit the bottom let it float up a bit or trust me you‚Äôll lose it to a log!¬† Don‚Äôt forget that the Cape Fear River Striped Bass fishery is a closed fishery and is catch & release only; you must release all Striped Bass.¬† Keep your eyes out for tagged Stripers there are a lot of tagged fish out there.
Another fish that can bite well in the River during the winter months is the Blue Catfish.¬† If you would like to give the Catfish a try, use baits like cut mullet, chicken livers and cut eel.¬† I use heavy Carolina rigs when I fish for catfish.¬† Try a TroKar Circle hook in 4/0 to 7/0 depending on bait size with fifty or sixty pound mono leader to make your carolina rig.¬† Look for the catfish on drop-offs from five to twenty feet of water.¬† We have seen some blue cats over thirty pounds caught in the river so try not to use to light of tackle; these are not always your ‚Äėfarm pond channel cats‚Äô!
There is one fish that can be caught very easily during the winter months; if you find them!¬† This Redfishing can be some of the best of the year for catching numbers of fish; the deal breaker for this fishery is you have got to good weather, clam seas and bright sunny skies for the ocean schools.¬† I use Berkley Gulp Ripple Mullet in colors Pearl/chart tail, New Penny and Rootbeer gold/chart tail; also the Berkley Gulp 2‚ÄĚ & 3‚ÄĚ Shrimp work well too. Also MirrOlure Catch 2000Jr lures work well for winter Redfish.¬† On warmer light wind days you can also find some nice schools of Reds in shallow water oyster flats and rocks.¬† The Reds will sun on these dark colored bottom areas for a little extra warm up; this is also where you‚Äôll see some bait fish doing the same thing (warming up).¬† Work these baits slowly in front of the Redfish schools; not right through the school, all this will do is spook the Reds and will make it very hard to catch them.¬† If the Reds are hungry they break away from the school and eat your bait!
With the late fall we had, water temps are a bit higher this winter than past winters and the Speckled trout bite has been a good pick most of the winter!¬† Here are some ways I like to target Speckled trout into later winter months. A lure that always comes to mind for winter Speckled trout is the MirrOlure in the 52M, 52MR and TT series.¬† MirrOlure color codes I prefer are: 11, 21, 26, 51, 704, CFPR, CH, EC, HP AND Capt. Jot Custom color (only found at Tex‚Äôs Tackle shop).¬† Most any local tackle shop can help you with these color codes (a lot easier than spelling them all out here).¬† Working MirrOlures slowly in deeper water breaks and drop offs can produces some very nice trout.¬† If the water gets a bit dirty due to winds or rain/ice/snow, give Berkley Gulp 3‚ÄĚ shrimp, fire tail shrimp and Jerkshad a try.¬† Rig the Gulp or Saltwater Assassin Sea shad‚Äôs on lighter jig heads, here too for the trout so you can work them just a bit slower due to the colder water temps.¬† Don‚Äôt rule out a nice Gray trout mixed in during the winter while speckled trout fishing.¬† Look for the bigger trout to be sitting close to the current, but just off and out of it.¬† Remember these fish are not going to burn calories they don‚Äôt have too swimming against the current.
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels sizes 2500, 3000 & 4000 for the Redfish, Speckled trout and Striped Bass.¬† Battle II or Clash 5000 & 6000 for Catfish.¬† PENN Battalion in 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ & 7‚Äô medium and med/hvy action; and Battalion 7‚Äô 15-30 class for catfish; line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in ten, fifth-teen and twenty pound; Berkley Pro Spec Fluorocarbon leader for leaders.
~Capt. Jot‚Äôs Inshore Fishing schools are sold out, but I‚Äôll do them again next year so keep your eye here for the announcement during late November 2017.
Thanks for reading, stay warm or cool and good fishing to ya!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Tackle Elite Staff
Really?¬† Thanksgiving is over here comes Christmas???¬† Yes it‚Äôs December and December can be a good fishing month.¬† Pick your days and the fish will bite! If we get a big cool down, give it a day to moderate a bit to a warmer trend; this will greatly help you to get more bites!¬† I look for warmer days, sunny days and less windy days during December if possible for better bite rates around Southeast NC.
In December I catch some of the biggest Speckled trout all year, but you need to know which lures work better for bigger trout.¬† Hard baits like MirrOlures have put some big trout in the boat for me and for many other anglers over the years.¬† MirrOlure‚Äôs 52M, 52MR and TT series are great big trout baits.¬† Try these lures in colors: 11 (redhead), 11FGO (Flo.orangehead), 21 (blackback), 26 (redback), 51 (white/white), 704 (pink/yellow), 808 (black/gold/orange), CFPR (chart/pearl), HP (hotpink), Capt. Jot Custom color only available at Tex‚Äôs tackle and for great night fishing; PD (purple demon).
Good looking scented lures that have been working very well for me are Berkley Gulp‚Äôs three inch shrimp and there newer four inch Ripple mullet.¬† All the colors have worked well for me, but here is a few that I like for trout (shrimp pattern); Sugar spice glow, rootbeer/gold, pearl white and new penny.¬† Berkley Gulp‚Äôs Ripple Mullet in colors glow/chartreuse, pearl, rootbeer gold/chart, and Chart pepper are all good trout baits.¬† All of these baits have Gulps great scent, great action and come in some great colors too!¬† Don‚Äôt forget the good‚Äôole five inch pearl white jerkshad as well.
The grub (soft plastic) has been around forever in the fishing world!¬† These days they come in so many different colors, here are few that work well for me when trout fishing.¬† Saltwater Assassin makes a load of different grubs; I prefer the sea shad four inch pattern in colors chicken on a chain, rainbow trout, copperhead, green moon, sweet pea, pink diamond and silver
phantom/chart.¬† I rig all these grubs with 1/8oz, ¬ľ oz and 3/8oz jig heads in colors gray, red and brown.¬† Don‚Äôt forget that I rig all of my Speckled trout lures with fluorocarbon leaders; trout have very good eyesight and later in the season like December the water can get very clear!¬† Get yourself a good fluorocarbon like Berkley Pro Spec or Berkley Vanish; both of these work great in twenty pound test.
Don‚Äôt count out live bait if you enjoy fishing with it.¬† Try live smaller mullets, mud minnows and live shrimp.¬† In shallow waters of two to five feet I like to float these live baits with a cork and a small treble hook.¬† In deeper waters of six to ten plus I rig them on light Carolina rigs with a small number one J-hook (EC L42).¬† Just wait until you feel that trout take off with the bait and lightly set the hook, remember trout have very soft mouths slow hook sets work best!¬† Live bait will be harder to get and keep alive during later December, but on warmer days it will be a little easier to find and fish it.
In December another fish I really like to hunt for on sunny, warmer and light wind days is schooling Redfish.¬† I find these schools on oyster rocks/flats, sand bars in the surf and shallow flats on the ICW.¬† In December the Reds are not hard to catch when you find them, but some times finding them can be a challenge.¬† My go to bait for the winter Redfish are scented grub like the Berkley Gulp Ripple Mullet or fire tail shrimp; Redfish love these things.¬† Rig grubs with thirty or forty pound mono or fluorocarbon and a darker colored jig heads like red or brown should get the redfish to bite for you.
Not too far from Wrightsville Beach in historical down town Wilmington runs the Cape Fear River and in the Cape Fear there are some cold weather biting Striped Bass.¬† These fish are not the easiest to catch, but they fight very well even in cold water.¬† Working drop offs and grass lines on the edge of the river is where you can find the Stripers, using swim bait lures and Berkley Power Bait, Berkley Havoc Grass pig lures and Berkley Gulp Jerkshad should put a few Cape Fear Stripers on you line.¬† Rig these lures on swimbait hooks for weedless fishing, (lots of hangs in the river).¬† Fishing ares with not so many hangs, try a Rapala X-Rap¬† X-10 size in colors Ghost white or green back.¬† Don‚Äôt forget that the Cape Fear River Striped Bass Fishery is closed; catch and release only!
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II, Clash Spinning reels sizes 2000, 2500& 3000 for the Redfish & Speckled trout¬† 2500, 3000 & Slammer III 3500 for¬† Striped Bass¬† Rods: PENN Battalion 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ & 7‚Äô med/light and medium action; line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in eight, ten and fifth-teen pound or in eight, ten or twelve pound test for Speckled trout fishing.
Thanks for reading Marry Christmas, Happy New Year and good winter fishing to you!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Reels Elite Staff
Posted in Fishing Reports on December 5th, 2016 | Comments Off
The PENN Slammer is back by popular demand, back as the Slammer III series!¬† This Slammer III series is built for heavy-duty fishing from boat, shore, surf or kayak; however you fish hard core!¬† Designed, tested and trusted by Charter and Fishing guides all over the world.¬† The Slammer III reels feature the new IPX6 Sealed system which keeps water, salt and sand out of the gear box and drag system.¬† PENN is also using the updated Slammer Drag System which now utilizes PENN‚Äôs proprietary Dura-Drag material.¬† The same Dura-Drag material used in PENN Internationals; ‚ÄúBig Smooth Drag Systems‚ÄĚ!
¬†Here are some of the key features of the New Slammer III spinning reel series:
¬†You may notice the larger gold handle in the photos of the new Slammer III reels.¬† I was on the test and design team for these reels for the last two years.¬† Yes I was wondering the same thing out of the box; ‚Äúboy that handle looks odd, how‚Äôs it going to feel and fish?‚ÄĚ¬† To my surprise it feels and works great.¬† It‚Äôs easier on your hands and fingers, makes it easier to hold the rod and not have the reel walk back and forth in your hands.¬† Also when reeling in fast or working a lure fast it‚Äôs easier to keep the speed constant with the easy control of the larger handle.¬† All models of the Slammer III reels come with the metal gold handle knob and an EVA foam knob as well in the box.¬† You can choose whatever you like to fish with!
¬†As a guide on the design and test team for the Slammer III I‚Äôve been very impressed with the lasting smoothness and strength of this series of reels.¬† I‚Äôve had them for just over a year & a half and they are still just as smooth as they were out of the box!¬† On my 3500 test size I‚Äôve cuaght hundreds of deep water Flounders of one to six pounds with countless by-catch sharks, sea bass and grunts.¬† We also landed five Cobia over fifty pounds on the 3500 size Slammer III test reel! I‚Äôll definitely have a set of these reels for next year‚Äôs fishing season, for sure!¬† The Slammer III series should be in your favorite Tackle shops mid-November; Showing up Now!
¬†f you have any questions of the PENN Slammer III series or any other PENN product please let me know or check out www.pennfishing.com
¬†Thanks for reading and good fishing to you!
Capt. Jot Owens
¬†Posted in Product Reviews on November 15th, 2016 | Comments Off
November is the gateway to winter but don‚Äôt let that get you down!¬† November is my month to really get some big‚Äôole Speckled trout to bite!¬† Weather in November can be tough some days, cold and rainy or sometimes just to warm.¬† Only time will tell as far as the weather goes, but no matter what happens with the weather it‚Äôs a great month to fish around Southeast NC!
In early to mid November I look for Speckled trout in the creeks and channels just off the ICW; any where water is moving with tide flow and bait.¬† Speckled trout like current; weather its hard current in a main channel or light current up a creek.¬† You need current flow to catch trout; rising and falling tide can be good for trout don‚Äôt let the tide keep you form going trout fishing!¬† Marsh grass lines, oyster rocks that run in to a channel and drop-offs in channels are all good places to find Speckled trout in November.¬† Almost any grass lines with oysters will hold some trout!¬† Look for places where there is a slight current break and those trout will be close by!¬† Later in November all of the above places will still hold trout and the inlets will start to hold more trout as the month goes on.
One key point to trout I‚Äôve found is that most days Specks will bite, but what are they hitting that day?¬† I‚Äôve found that in early November hard baits work well.¬† This is when you need to know where to start; what lures to try?¬† One of my favorites is the good‚Äôole MirrOlure; it‚Äôs been around a long time and it is still catching lots of big fish.¬† The patterns I prefer are the 17MR, 18MR, 27MR, 52M and 52MR.¬† Colors; MirrOlure makes a lot of different colors but here are some of my go too colors around Southeast NC area waters.¬† MirrOlure color codes: 11, 21, 26, 51, 704, CFPR, CH, EC, HP and Capt. Jot Custom color in 17MR & 52MR (only found at Tex‚Äôs Tackle shop)¬† Any local tackle shop can help you with these color codes.¬† Fishing Depths to use these lures; 17MR, 27MR & Catch 200Jr. use these lures in two to six feet of water.¬† 18MR, 52M & 52MR use these lures in four to fifth-teen plus feet of water with current.¬† If your lure is hitting the bottom a lot go to a shallower running lure.
If you have ever done any trout fishing at all you know that a grub (soft plastic) lures work very well for Speckled trout too!¬† Berkley Gulp three inch shrimp pattern is one of my go-to lures.¬† I prefer colors sugar spice glow, pearl white and pearl white/fire tail.¬† Saltwater Assassin‚Äôs 4‚ÄĚ sea shad in colors chicken on a chain, sweet pea, mullet, rainbow trout and cantaloupe are all good choices in November as well.
I rig all of my trout grubs on 1/16oz, 1/8oz and 1/4oz jigs heads in colors red, gray or black; always use a fluorocarbon leader when trout fishing, I use Berkley Pro Spec twenty pound in clear, thirty pound if the blues show up in numbers.
Don‚Äôt count out live bait if you enjoy fishing with it.¬† Try live smaller mullets, mud minnows and live shrimp.¬† In shallow waters of two to five feet I like to float these live baits with a cork and a small treble hook.¬† In deeper waters of six to ten plus I rig them on light Carolina rigs with a small number one J-hook (EC L42).¬† Just wait until you feel that trout take off with the bait and lightly set the hook, remember trout have very soft mouths slow hook sets work best!
Here is one of my best tips I can give you for Speckled trout fishing around the Wrightsville area in November.¬† The water gets clear, sometimes very clear around Southeast NC in November.¬† I always use Fluorocarbon leaders for Speckled trout fishing; for artificial as well as live bait fishing!¬† You will catch more trout using fluorocarbon leader; trust me!¬† I use Berkley Pro Spec fluorocarbon leader material in twenty and thirty pound test.¬† Give it a try; you‚Äôll be happy you did!¬† *PS: Also keep your eyes peeled for trout with yellow or red belly tags, I‚Äôve tag a fair amount from south Topsail to Carolina beach inlet this year and last.¬† Yellow tags are worth $5 and Red tags are worth $100!
The bigger Reds start to show up in the ocean on hard bottoms and around the inlets during September and run until later November; this year has been a epic early fall Bull Red bite.¬† You never know when you might hook one of these hard fighting fish.¬† When I fish for bigger Reds, I use fresh cut or live menhaden and mullet.¬† I use fish finder rigs with a TroKar AP 8/0 or 9/0 circle hook and eighty pound Berkley Big game mono leaders. Don‚Äôt forget to keep your drag tight when using circle hook so they will do their job.¬† One tip I can give you when fishing for Bull Reds, is don‚Äôt use to light of tackle for these bigger Reds.¬† If you fight them to long, there is a chance you can tire them out to much and kill them.¬† Try a med/heavy rod and a reel with at least thirty pound mono or braid, this will help you get the fish in quicker; with a better chance of a good release.¬† Check to see if the Red has a yellow tag in its back; there are a fair amount of tagged Big Reds out there.
If you like to catch Bluefish there are just about as many as you like around during November.¬† Fishing around and just outside of the inlets you can catch just about all the Blues you want in the one to four pound range.¬† Casting metal jigging spoons or diamond jigs is a no brainer for getting some Bluefish.¬† Just look for the birds working and cast in that area.¬† Watch those teethe Blues they do bite hard!
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels sizes 2000, 2500 & 3000 for the Speckled trout.¬† Rods PENN Battalion in 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ & 7‚Äô med/light and medium action; line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in eight, ten and fifth-teen pound.¬† Bull Reds PENN Fathom 20LW and PENN Rampage Jigging Rods.
Keep your eyes on my FaceBook page for I‚Äôll be releasing the two dates of my inshore fishing school this month.¬† I‚Äôll have one school day on a March Saturday and one on an April Saturday.¬† This school is limited to 32 anglers each date and it will sell out within two days of release date.
Thanks for reading, good luck fishing and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Reels Elite Staff
September is the start to Fall; one of the best times of the year to go fishing around Wrightsville Beach.¬† When cold fronts start to make their way across Southeast North Carolina, fishing really picks up.¬† Most of the fish we catch around Wrightsville in the summer are still biting during September but they are biting better.¬† Nice cool temps and light morning breezes; make for some great fishing weather.¬† Another great thing about September is much less boat traffic!
When the water starts to cool down the Redfishing will heat up.¬† Look for the Reds to be in the creeks, along the ICW docks and oyster rocks.¬† Carolina rigs with live bait or fresh cut bait is a good bet to catch a Redfish.¬† If you want to go the artificial root, try Berkley Gulp three inch in color sugar spice glow or molting rigged on a 1/8oz or 1/4oz jig head should get‚Äôem to bite.¬† Early mornings or late afternoons the top water bite should be good; cast MirrOlure Top Dog Jr‚Äôs and Top Pup‚Äôs for the best bite.¬† Look for the top-water reds to be along marsh grass lines and shallow oyster rocks.¬† You can also use rattling or popping corks in the same areas you use top-water plugs, just rig them with eight to fourteen inches of forty pound fluorocarbon, 1/0 hook L42 Eagle Claw and a live figure mullet.
The bigger Reds are starting to show up in the ocean on hard bottoms and around the inlets.¬† You never know when you might hook one of these hard fighting fish.¬† When I fish for bigger Reds, I use fresh cut or live menhaden and mullet.¬† I use larger carolina rigs with TroKar 7/0 or 8/0 circle hooks and eighty pound Berkley Big game mono leaders. Don‚Äôt forget to keep your drag tight when using circle hook so they will do their job.¬† One tip I can give you when fishing for Bull Reds, is don‚Äôt use to light of tackle for these bigger Reds.¬† If you fight them to long, there is a chance you can tire them out to much and kill them.¬† Try a med/heavy rod and a reel with at least thirty pound mono or braid, this will help you get the fish in quicker; with a better chance of a good release.¬† Check to see if the Red has a yellow tag in its back; there are a fair amount of tagged Big Reds out there.
The Flounder fishing has been good this season so far, with this said it looks like September should be a great mouth for Flounder too.¬† We look for Flounder in the fall around the inlets, in the creeks; up and down the ICW.¬† We also will find some very nice Flounder just offshore of Wrightsville/Topsail on live/hard bottom as well artificial reefs.¬† Mud minnows and small finger mullet will be the best live baits for Flounder in September.¬† Rigging the live bait on carolina rigs with EC 042 1/0 hooks is a good choice of rigs for Flounder.¬† If you prefer to use artificial baits; scented and none scented grubs will do the job.¬† Berkley Gulp Jerkshad in six inch with colors chart pepper neon and pearl white seem to work the best for me.¬† Rig these on jig heads with longer hook shanks with will help with a better hookup ratio.
Spanish mackerel fishing can be great during September.¬† The Spanish run the biggest all year during the fall.¬† You can cast or troll for them and the fly fishing can be great as well.¬† The Spanish will be around the inlets and near shore artificial reefs.¬† Look for jumping Spanish and diving birds; that is where you will find the Spanish mackerel.¬† Casting small spoons or jigs on light spinning tackle will put some Spanish in the boat for you.¬† If you would rather troll, give a Blue Water Candy Daisy Chain a try on top and a #1 planner down deep with a Clark spoon.¬† If you would like to give fly fishing a try, use a five to eight weight set up with floating line with a small minnow pattern fly or epoxy minnow pattern; my favorite!
Shark fishing will be good until late September.¬† We see lots of different kinds of Sharks in September; Black tip, black nose, Sandbar, Hammerhead and Tiger. Best baits for the near shore sharks are fresh/live Bluefish, Mullet and Menhaden. We use spinning reels for Shark fishing with 300+ yards of thirty and fifty pound Spider wire Ultra-cast braid.¬† Rigging the baits; eight feet of 80 pound mono leader; some will wind on to the reel. Connected to the 80 pound mono is a fifty pound swivel, then Two to three foot of #9 SS wire and an TroKar 8/0 or 9/0 circle hook. (I push down the barb for easy release)¬† If you prefer Fly fishing, I like Striped bass flies in Menhaden patterns with 4/0 and 5/0 hook sizes.¬† We use ten to twelve weight set ups; have lots of extra flies with you!
Good September fishing to you, don‚Äôt forget to take a kid fishing and thanks for reading!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Tackle Elite Staff
August fishing around Wrightsville Beach can be pretty good, but with hot temps and little rain ‚Äúmost years‚ÄĚ you need to change up things just a little to get more bites.¬† Going earlier in the morning or later in the day will make a difference, cloudy days or even those light rain days can be the key to more bites!¬† Remember fish get lethargic from hot water temps just as much as cold water temps.
Flounder are a great hot weather fish because it really does not seem to matter how hot it gets they still bite!¬† Live bait can be a good choice for catching higher numbers of Flounder, but if you want to catch bigger Flounder try artificial bait.¬† Mud minnows, small menhaden and small finger mullet will be the best live baits for Flounder in August.¬† Rigging the live bait on carolina rigs with Eagle Claw L42¬† #1 or 1/0 hooks is a good choice of rigs for Flounder.¬† If you prefer to use artificial baits; scented and none scented grubs as well as spinner baits will do the job.¬† Berkley Gulp Jerkshad in five and six inch and colors of new penny, pearl white and chart pepper neon are all my ‚Äúgo to‚ÄĚ flounder lures.¬† Also try Berkley‚Äôs Havoc Grass Pig lure in colors, chartreuse, pearl white silver and swamp gas.¬† I rig these lures on jig heads in 1/4oz, 3/8oz, 1/2oz and 3/4oz (ocean) weights in colors red, gray or white.
Look for the bigger flounder around deeper water docks with good current, bait fish and lots of structure inshore.¬† The inlets, offshore reef and ledges are all good places to find hot weather flounder.¬† What do all these places have in common; deeper water (may be close to shallow water), current and structure‚Ä¶‚Ä¶‚Ä¶.Hint‚Ä¶‚Ä¶‚Ä¶
One fish that is always on my hot weather list is the Sheephead.¬† The Sheephead is a good challenge to catch and they fight hard, but they are also good to eat!¬† Another great thing about Sheephead fishing when it‚Äôs hot outside is that you can hide under a bridge out of the sun to catch them.¬† Just think; fishing somewhere out of the sun and you‚Äôre catching great eating fish!¬† All you need is some fiddler crabs or sand fleas for bait.¬† A medium/heavy action spinning or casting rod with Spiderwire twenty or thirty pound braid for line will help you bring in that big Sheephead in.¬† Tie on a short carolina rig with forty or fifty pound fluorocarbon leader and a small live bait J hook (sharp/strong)!¬† Drop that fiddler crab down beside a piling on the carolina rig and when you feel that little bump; set the hook and hold on!¬† PS: they are great eating in the two to six pound range!
North Carolina is not really known for Tarpon fishing but we do see a few pushing just off Masonboro inlet and the lower Cape Fear River form time to time.¬† If you want a good challenge, give Carolina Tarpon fishing a try this August.¬† The best times are very early morning or late afternoon and in to the night. I fish for Tarpon on the bottom or free lining, using live and fresh dead baits like; spots, mullet and menhaden.¬† I rig these baits on fish finder rigs, with three to five feet of 80 to 100 pound fluorocarbon leaders.¬† Circle hooks are the best bet for good hook ups and landings for Tarpon in hook sizes 7/0 to 9/0 depending what hook series you like.¬† I prefer TroKar TK3 or TK5 9/0 circle hooks, super sharp and super strong!¬† It not easy to catch a NC Tarpon, but I promise if you do or even just jump one off its still really cool to see!
I also enjoy shark fishing later in the summer (late July to early September).¬† Sharks on light tackle are always a good pull and boy the kids love to catch‚Äôem!¬† I drift live and fresh dead bluefish, Spanish mackerel, mullet or menhaden in thirty to forty five feet of water offshore.¬† I rig these baits with a 7/0 to 9/0 TroKar circle hook (barb pushed down for easy release) with one foot of ninety pound wire and six to eight feet of eighty pound mono leader.¬† You can free line the bait and /or put a small egg sinker on to keep the bait close to the bottom.¬† You‚Äôll know when you get a bite!¬†¬† Most sharks are in the ten to one hundred pound range, with a few bigger ones mixed in!
Last but certainly not lest is Bull Redfish (big Red Drum).¬† The Bull Reds will start showing up in good numbers around inlets and hard/live bottoms just off the beach to about ten miles out in early August.¬† Live or fresh dead bait is the key to catching these brutes.¬† Most fish will be twenty-eight to over forty inches in length, very fun to catch size!¬† It‚Äôs not hard to rig for the Bull reds; short carolina rigs with a 7/0 to 10/0 TroKar circle hook will do the trick.¬† Remember if your catching larger Drum, please use heavier tackle; these Drum will work so hard when the water is hot and it is easy to kill them using to light of tackle (fighting them to long).
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Fishing Tackle Elite Staff
It‚Äôs June, summer is really here and the fishing is starting to come to its summer peak!¬† June is one of my favorite fishing months around Wrightsville and can be the best one!¬† By June the bait has shown up in good numbers and the game fish are looking for an easy snack!¬† Here are some of my ‚Äúgoto‚ÄĚ target fish for June around Wrightsville Beach.
Everybody loves to catch and eat Flounder; they are really getting their act together by June.¬† You can find Flounder just about anywhere when June rolls in, just knowing where to look to find the keepers is the key!¬† In the Wrightsville area, I look for keeper Flounder around deeper channel drop-offs; in waters of five to fifth-teen feet deep.¬† The local inlets, Carolina Beach, Masonboro, Mason‚Äôs and Rich‚Äôs inlets are always a good place to find some keeper size Flounders.¬† Last but certainly not least, are the artificial reefs, ledges and hard/live bottoms from one to ten miles off the beach, these areas always hold very nice Flounder in June.
Once you have found some Flounder you need to know how to catch‚Äôem.¬† If you want to go the artificial root, try bigger baits; this will greatly help you catch more keeper size Flounder.¬† I prefer Berkley Gulp five and six inch Jerkshad in colors pearl white, chart pepper neon and new penny.¬† Another great Flounder bait is the Berkley Gulp 4 inch shrimp pattern, this bait is great for cast up and down inshore drop-offs in creek channels.¬† I rig these baits on jig heads in sizes 1/8oz to 5/8oz for inshore and 1/2oz to 3/4oz for ocean fishing; in colors red, gray and white.
If you would like to go with live bait for the Flounders, try mud minnows, small mullets or small menhaden as live bait.¬† Rig these live baits on Carolina rigs with an Eagle Claw L42 1/0 hook, eight to fourteen inches of thirty to forty pound fluorocarbon as leader.¬† I prefer egg sinkers as my weight, the secret to how much weight you use is ‚Äėas much as you need to stay on the bottom but as least as you can get away with.‚Äô¬† You need to be on the bottom for Flounder but going lighter will always get you more bites!
Redfish are in there summer trend by June and the trick to summer Reds is go early before that sun is high and hot in the sky.¬† Topwater lures and rattling corks in the shallow waters earlier mornings and afternoons will produce Redfish. I prefer MirrOlure Top dog Jr‚Äôs and Top Pup‚Äôs for great ‚Äėwalk the dog action‚Äô.¬† Working grubs like Berkley Gulp later in the day in deeper waters will also produce Reds for you.¬† Slow rolling spinner baits with a Berkley Gulp Ripple Mullet (four inch) in the color root-beer gold/chart tail as the trailer has produced me some nice Reds when the water heats up.¬† Sometimes it can be just like colder mouths, slow down your presentation a little when the water gets hot.¬† Give the Redfish a little more time to catch up with your bait when the water temp is over eighty degrees.
Last but never least; Cobia fishing is in full swing by early June and should be good until early July; it‚Äôs already been a great year! I look for Cobia around inlets, shoals and bait schools; near shore/offshore reefs and ledges are also a good place to look too.¬† With the water being clear most of the time in June it should easier to see those brown logs in the water. I like to throw big jigs, swim baits and live bait to the Cobia.¬† Color really does not seem to matter, but (go bright); Blue Water Candy makes a great Cobia jig but I always add a Berkley Gulp six inch grub!¬† When I‚Äôm not sight casting for them, we are fishing around inlets, shoals and near shore artificial reefs.¬† I float fish, bottom fish and kite fish in these areas with live menhaden, blues and mullet as bait.¬† You can chum if you like, but the sharks and Rays will come in numbers!
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels 2500, 3000 & 4000 sizes for the Redfish and Flounder.¬† Cobia: PENN SpinFisher V & Clash 6000 & 7000 and PENN 20LW Fathom casting reels.¬† Rods PENN Battalion and Regiment 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ & 7‚Äô medium and med/heavy for the Redfish and Flounder.¬† Cobia Rods: PENN Rampage or Carnage II Jigging series 50 to 100 class casting and spinning.¬† Line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in ten and fifth-teen pound and Berkley Pro Spec Chrome mono in twenty and thirty pound for the Cobia; that is great line!!!
I hope summer fishing is good to you and thanks for reading!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Reels Elite Pro Staff
May around Wrightsville Beach in my mind is when ‚Äúsummer‚ÄĚ fishing really gets going.¬† Warmer days and most important less wind, we hope!¬† May brings new fish species to target and also the fish start to settle in their summer locations.¬† Here are some of my favorite fish to target during the month of May around Wrightsville Beach.
As the weather stabilizes and the temps go up in May we see a lot more days where we can get out in the ocean and look for those high speed, and good eating Bonita in earlier May (even later April this year) and Spanish mackerel all May long.¬† These fish are a lot of fun to see busting the surface of the water and even more fun to see on the end of your line!¬† Casting small spoons or using fly gear in weights six to eight can make for a great challenge on this light tackle.¬† Look for these fish to be hanging around near shore artificial reefs, ledges and inlets.¬† Trolling Clark spoons and small deep driver lures can be the key to success some days for the Bonita and Spanish mackerel.¬† When using the Clark spoons, I would recommend the pink flash spoon in sizes #00, #0 and #1; the pink flash series has really helped me put more fish in the boat.¬† You might come over a few False Albacore and Bluefish mixed in with the Bonita and Spanish from time to time; sometimes too many bluefish mixed in!
Redfish and May go hand and hand, this month is a favorite for casting artificial lures to them.¬† Reds really start to settle down in their summer spots by early May.¬† Casting Berkley Gulp Shrimp in three inch size on light jig heads is one of my go to baits for May Redfish.¬† My go to colors are sugar spice glow, new penny, Rootbeer gold/chart tail and natural.¬† Saltwater Assassin Sea shad lures in colors copperhead and 10W40 chart tail work well too.¬† Another fun way to catch Redfish is casting top-water plugs like MirrOlure‚Äôs Top pup or the new Poppa Mullet.¬† You can also cast popping or rattling corks in these shallow areas with a Berkley Gulp three inch which will catch the Redfish too.¬† If you would rather go the bait route; try some fresh cut Mullet or Menhaden on a light Carolina rig.¬† Try fishing fresh cut bait around docks in the ICW or along creek mouths when the tide is moving.
May is a great month for gator (bigger) Speckled trout; some of my personal largest Specks have come in May!¬† Most of the bigger trout I see in May come off top-water plugs.¬† My favorite is the MirrOlure Top dog, She dog and Poppa mullet; these noisy baits really make the trout come right out of the water after them!¬† Another great bait for bigger trout is the Berkley Gulp five or six inch Jerkshad in colors pearl white and new penny; rigging on light swim-bait hooks.¬† Live Shrimp, small Mullets and Menhaden on float rigs or very light Carolina rigs will also catch those gators!
By mid May the Cobia start to show up around Wrightsville; one of my favorites! I forecast that the Cobia will be here a little early this season. I look for Cobia around inlets, shoals and bait schools; near shore/offshore reefs and ledges are also a good place to look too.¬† With the water being so clear it has been easier to see those brown logs in the water.¬† We are throwing big jigs (Blue water candy), swim baits and live bait to the Cobia.¬† Color really does not seem to matter; but ‚Äúgo bright‚ÄĚ!¬† When I‚Äôm not sight casting for them, we are fishing around inlets, shoals and near shore artificial reefs.¬† I float fish, bottom fish and kite fish in these areas with live menhaden, blues, pinfish and mullet as bait.¬† Sometimes a great bonus fish when fishing for Cobia is a nice bull Redfish.¬† You can chum if you like, but the sharks and rays will come and they will come in numbers!
With the warmer weather the Flounder will finally start showing up in better numbers, there are still a lot of smaller ones inshore, but the bigger ones will really start showing up in May!¬† Most of the Flounder fishing I‚Äôm doing is just off the beach and around the inlets.¬† I‚Äôve caught Flounder on both live and artificial baits in May, what I have seen is more numbers on live bait, but more keepers on artificial baits.¬† Mud minnows on light Carolina rigs with #one L42 Eagle Claw hooks will catch the numbers of Flounder.¬† Berkley Gulp Jerkshad in five & six inch sizes will get the most keeper Flounder.¬† I rig these Jerkshad on 1/4oz, 3/8oz and 1/2oz, 3/4oz (ocean) jig heads with longer hook shanks in red or gray color.
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels 2000, 2500, 3000 and 4000 sizes.¬† Rods: PENN Battalions 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ and 7‚Äô Med-light and Medium rods.¬† Line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in ten and fifth-teen pound.¬† Cobia Reels PENN Fathom 20LW or 25LW casting or Clash & SpinFisher V in sizes 5000, 5500, 6000 or 6500 spinning reels, with a PENN Rampage Jigging rod 50 to 100 pound class.
Thanks for reading and good summer fishing to you!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Tackle Elite Staff
Ranger Boats Pro Staff
Winter really has been pretty good overall and things are running a week or two ahead of most springs around our area. Fishing looks to be pretty great this spring and if it stays spring for a while, I believe it could be an epic spring fishing season!¬† Here are some of the fish I target around Wrightsville Beach and some other close areas too.
Another fish that really starts to show up around the inlets of Southeast North Carolina is the good‚Äôole Bluefish and during April you can catch some bigger Bluefish too.¬† These blues will hit Berkley Gulp 7‚ÄĚ jerkshads in colors pearl and pearl/chart pepper; hard baits like big poppers and spoons like a Sea striker Jig-fish one ounce or bigger will also get these choppers to bite.¬† Don‚Äôt forget the steal leaders for these fish or they will get a free lure form you every time!¬† Try light single strand wire in sizes #2, #3 or #4 will keep your lures on the end of your line and not in a bluefish‚Äôs pocket!¬† I catch Blues in the one to fifteen pound range during April.
Towards early to mid April the Bonita and False Albacore should show up just offshore of Wrightsville.¬† Trolling Clark spoons and small deep driver lures can be the key to success some days for the Bonita and Albacore.¬† When using the Clark spoons, I would recommend the pink flash spoon in sizes #00, #0 and #1; the pink flash series has really helped me put more fish in the boat.¬† A bird rig on top with a Clark spoon about five to six feet behind it or Blue water Candy Spanish daisy chain (blue, silver, pink) have worked very well for me on top too.¬† Look for birds working or marking bait on you fish finder is the way to find the feeding fish.¬† When the fish are not on top, I‚Äôve caught some nice Blues and a few Bonita by casting a spoon out and letting it sink down before reeling is in.¬† I‚Äôve found that some times these fish are deeper and you can get them by getting down to deeper water.
I know I talk about the Redfish (Red Drum) a lot, but hey they are one of my favorites to catch!¬† In April we are going to see the Redfish really start to move around and one thing I‚Äôve found is if they‚Äôre moving around they are looking for food.¬† If they are looking for food then they are probably going to bite your hook!¬† In April I rely on artificial baits or fresh cut bait to catch spring Reds.¬† You cannot go wrong with Berkley Gulp three inch Shrimp in colors molting, sugar spice glow and new penny.¬† Rigging the Gulp baits on light jig heads (1/8oz & 1/4oz) in colors reds and gray should get the Reds to bite for you.¬† If you would rather use cut bait, rig fresh shrimp or mullet on a light Carolina rig with a L42 number one size hook.¬† Look for the Reds on the edges of oyster rocks, mash grass edges, ICW docks and creek mouths.
There is one fish that a lot of anglers over look in April and that is the Black Drum.¬† What I love about these fish is you can catch them in good numbers this time of year and there great to eat!¬† On top of all that they are also easy to catch; use a light two hook bottom rig with number two or number three size eagle claw bait holder hooks.¬† I make my own rigs with thirty pound fluorocarbon leader by making two overhand knots to put the hooks on.¬† I prefer as fresh as I can get shrimp for black drum fishing.¬† Fish these rigs around docks, oyster rocks and
inlets for Black Drum; you might even get a Redfish mixed in as well. I will sometimes catch two Black Drum at the same time on the same rig; that‚Äôs what I call good fishing!
Cape Fear River Striped Bass can bite very well in April too, but the fish move around a lot more during April, you‚Äôll find them at one spot one day and the next day they have moved on.¬† In April the Stripers will start to move in to shallower waters, I look for the Stripers in three to ten feet of water in the early spring.¬† This is when you need to also shallow up your presentation, go lighter with you tackle.¬† I prefer Berkley Gulp jerkshad six inch and Berkley Havoc grass pig lures; I use colors pearl, chart pepper neon and new penny (swamp gas).¬† Using swim bait hooks size 5/0 in 1/8 to 1/4 ounce made by Moaner hooks should put a Striper on the end of your line!¬† Look for Cape Fear River Stripers around mud-flat edges, bulk-heads and shallow reed-grass edges on sunny warmer days.
Also in the Cape Fear River I really enjoy heading to Lock & Dam #1 on the Cape Fear River during April to catch large American shad on light tackle and Fly tackle.¬† Casting shad darts in bright colors and shad fly is the way to catch the shad.¬† I use a double shad dart rig, this makes it easier to cast the light darts and sometimes you get two shad at the same time!¬† The shad run in the one to a few over four pounds; super fun on fly and light tackle setups ‚Äúpoor mans Tarpon‚ÄĚ!
Tackle run down: PENN Battle II & Clash Spinning reels (1000 shad fishing), 2500 & 3000 sizes.¬† Rods: PENN Battalion rods 6‚Äô6‚ÄĚ & 7‚Äô medium and med/heavy action.¬† Line Spiderwire Ultra-cast in (six pound shad fishing) ten and fifteen pound.¬† Berkley Pro Spec fluorocarbon leader material for all my leaders.
Thanks for reading, good spring fishing & weather to you!
Capt. Jot Owens
PENN Tackle Elite Staff
Ranger Boats Pro Staff