LIGHT TACKLE FISHING CALENDAR
Light tackle fishing is nearly a year round opportunity in Eastern North Carolina. Our boats are both designed with the spin fisherman in mind and will assure you every chance to land your trophy fish. Listed below is a summary of our fishing calendar.
February, March, April, May:
Shad, both American and Hickory make spawning runs up the Roanoke, Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers. These are excellent fighting fish that will strike small silver and gold drone spoons and shad darts. Hot pink, Crappie jig heads with small white curly tail work well. Catches of 50 plus fish per angler can be expected. A prime spot to fish is Weldon, N.C. located 15 miles south of the Virginia border on I-95.
Striped Bass (rock fish), spawn 100 miles up the Roanoke River (See Roanoke River section). These fish are very aggressive and bite well on artificial lures as well as bait. The fish vary from 3 to 35lbs. Early morning and late afternoon surface feeding in early May offers excellent top water action. A medium weight rod is ideal for the stripers. Top water lures, diving plugs, jigs and live bait will be used for striper fishing. (see photo gallery).
Atlantic Bonito migrate along the Crystal Coast (Atlantic Beach) on there way North when the water temp is in the mid 60s. Bonita are located on offshore wrecks in 50ft. of water. The bonito will eat live bait and lures. A medium action rod with 15# test line is used to land these hard fighting little tunnies. These are excellent eating fish (see photo gallery). Early in the morning and late afternoons, the bonito may chase bait on the surface and we will use popping lures.
Gray and Speckled Trout that spent the winter offshore are returning to the inlets and sounds. Jigs with tails around the rock jetties and shrimp are effective in the spring. Mullet, Blow fish, and other bottom feeders are also available.
Redfish/Red Drum are moving back into the sound from the wintering offshore. Sight fishing in shallow water offers a unique opportunity to test your skills. We will use gold spoons, top water plugs and live bait. We will pole to the fish in the Maverick flats boat.
False Albacore arrive when the water temp is in the mid 50s and are feeding around the reefs and inlets. The fish are usually smaller and is less quantities than in the Fall.
Cobia May provides the best opportunity to catch Cobia. Cobia follow bait balls up the beach and then enter the inlets. The fish can be caught by anchoring near the inlet and putting bait on the bottom. We can also find Cobia along the buoy chain and on the near shore wrecks. The fish can range from 10 to 70lbs. Sometimes, we will see Cobia on top of the water sunning and looking for bait.
June, July, August: The summer is in full swing as the water temperature rises above 70.
Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish are abundant and usually found near the inlet feeding on silversides when the water temperature is over 70 degrees. A 7ft. medium action rod with 15# line is a good choice for these 2 to 4 lb. fish. Casting and trolling to these schooling fish is a blast. Early morning trips to near shore wrecks can produce big Spanish. A minimum of 30# mono or braided wire is used for these toothy fish.
Redfish/Red Drum will be in the shallow flats and creeks. Sight fishing for these 18” to 30” redfish will provide the ultimate challenge. We will use either lures like red fish magic with gulps or live bait. Our Maverick boat will go anywhere the redfish can swim. A 4 inch, salt water assassin (electric chicken) was used to catch the 30 inch redfish in the photo gallery.
Cobia and Amberjack can be found near shore wrecks. Live bait, jigs and top water poppers on heavier rods & reels is required. (see photo gallery) Cobia seem to leave by mid June but the Amberjack are around until late Fall. These two fish provide some of the best pulls in the ocean on light tackle.
Flounder are moving into the inlets and sounds. Drift fishing using live finger mullet or mud minnows is very effective. The Beaufort Inlet, behind Shackleford Banks and near Cape Lookout will produce good catches of these excellent eating fish. Larger flounder can be found at near shore wrecks and sometimes in the Atlantic Beach turning basin.
King Mackerel can be chummed on the wrecks and a wire leader is needed to keep from being bit off by these predator fish. Trolling with diving lures, casting lures and live bait will also work. We can also slow troll with live Menhaden off shore
Dolphin (aka Mahi Mahi) and Amberjack can be found on off shore wrecks and along weed lines. Heavier rods and reels are needed to land these hard fighting fish.
September, October: The water is cooling and fish are moving inshore and following the baitfish. The real challenge is deciding which species of fish you want to target. They are that plentiful.
Spanish Mackerel are bigger and feeding in or near the inlet preparing for their migration south. Large Spanish are abundant on the Cape Lookout Shoals. Similar lures and bait used in the summer will be our choice. Citation size fish are not uncommon. The Spanish will leave when the water temperature drops below 70 degrees (See photo gallery)
Big Bluefish are on the Cape Lookout shoals and smaller bluefish sometimes fill the inlet. Sight fishing for bigger blues with top water poppers is a blast.
Flounder are now following the bait down the beaches. Live bait along the beaches can produce nice “keeper” flounder. Near shore reefs are producing big flounder (see photo gallery) .
False Albacore are now arriving for the premier Albie fishing on the east coast. Schools of Albies are chasing and feeding on bay anchovies, silversides and finger mullet in Beaufort inlet and Cape Lookout area. A medium weight rod and a good drag are needed to fight these 6 to 15lb. fish. Early season Albies can be found on near shore wrecks and along the beach.
Redfish/Red Drum are abundant in the back islands and up on the flats. Sight fishing to tailing redfish is a unique opportunity during high tides. The redfish is North Carolina’s state fish and you’ll know why when you land one. Call for days with the best tides.
Speckled and Gray Trout are starting to gather in schools. The gray trout (weakfish) are found in the deep channels and along the several rock jetties in the area. Last year it was easy to catch your limit of gray trout with jigs. (see photo gallery) Speckled Trout can also be found in the back island creeks.
November, December is the prime fishing season on the Crystal Coast for False Albacore, Sea Mullet and Speckled and Gray Trout. The water is now clear due to temperatures in the 60's.
False Albacore are here in big schools. Albies are chasing bait all around the boat and usually we are sight casting to pods of fish. We will use lures to match the type of baitfish they are eating. A white jig head with a small Arkansas shinner tail works great. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch great game fish on your medium action rod. We usually use only 12lb to 15lb test line and a good drag. Book your trip early to get the best days during the week. (see photo gallery)
Speckled and Gray Trout are abundant around the jetties and in the channels. The famous Cape Lookout rock jetty produces citation (4 to 7lb) trout on a lightweight 7ft. rod. Green tails and gulps on red heads were hot last year. Mirror lures and live bait (live shrimp, finger mullet or pin fish) under floats are good choices. (see photo gallery) Work your lures slow in the cold water.
Redfish/Red Drum are now schooling up and feeding aggressively due to cooler water. The water is very clear and offers better sight fishing. The Maverick will get us close enough to cast gold spoons, jigs and tails or bait to the fish. Drum can also be found at the Cape Lookout shoals and along the beach.
King Mackerel and Amberjack have moved close to shore and found in 50 to 70 ft. of water. These are strong 10 to 30lb. fish. Large schools of Kings can be found in November.
Striped Bass arrive in the Cape Lookout area and Drum Inlet in mid December and will stay into January. These fish will average 20 to 40 lbs. We will troll with heavier rods using deep diving plugs until we find a school of fish. Schooling fish sometimes feed on the Cape Lookout shoals in shallow water offering top water casting action.
Big Red Drum (30+ lbs) have moved into the ocean and feed around the wrecks and hard bottom. East of the Cape Lookout Shoals produce the most fish, but they can be found near Beaufort inlet. (see photo gallery)