Late July is the beginning of the dog days of summer. Just because it is hot, the fishing does not stop. Dolphin and billfish should be available to all offshore fisherman. There are a few blues and Spanish for boats fishing along the beaches. Pier and surf fisherman are at the mercy of the water temperatures. Warm water will warm up the action on both piers and surf.

If you are taking a charter and weather might be an issue listen to your captain and take his advice. He does this for a living and if he says it will be too rough — take his word for it.

Hatteras Offshore

Anglers can expect to find bailer dolphin and few gaffer dolphin mixed in. “Bailer” is a local name for the size of the dolphin/mahi; small enough to grab the leader and swing in the boat. Bailers are often found in big schools and can be held behind the boat with chum so they can be bailed into the boat. Gaffer dolphin/mahi are bigger and need to be brought into the boat with a gaff. Blacken tuna can also be taken. Wahoo fishing can be good also. Billfish like sailfish and blue marlin are always lurking.

Oregon Inlet Offshore

Like Hatteras, bailer dolphin should be around in good numbers. Yellowfin tuna has slowed from the red-hot action of June. Bill fishing will improve as we get closer to August. Catches of white marlin, sailfish and blue marlin will be recorded. A few wahoo will also be landed in July.

Oregon Inlet Nearshore

Bluefish and Spanish mackerel should be bitting during this time. On the days they cannot be found the nearshore fleet has been catching ribbonfish. Ribbonfish are an occasional summer visitor and until recently not considered a sport fish or a food fish. Ribbonfish are aggressive and easily caught on pieces of cut bait. They are a known food fish worldwide and are catching on here. Cobia are scattered as the sharks still around but not in the numbers of early summer and late spring.

Hatteras Inlet Near Shore

Bluefish and Spanish should be the main fare. Triggers and amberjack should be around the nearshore wrecks. Big redfish are always a possibility around the inlet and Cape Point. Sharks should be willing and ready to give any angler a big pull.

Pier Reports

On the piers on Hatteras Island, croakers, Spanish, spot and bluefish should all be available. On the end of the piers, anglers live baiting for king mackerel should catch the occasional kingfish. The action is much the same action on the piers on the northern Outer Banks. The action can slow if the water temperatures drop to below normal. Bottom fish are taken on fresh shrimp and blood worms fished on a top and bottom rig. Most piers sell fresh bait and tackle and help with the right rig section.

In the Sand-surf action

Surf fisherman on Hatteras are finding pompano, sea mullet, bluefish and the scattered flounder. All of these fish are taken with bottom rigs and fresh bait like shrimp, sand fleas or cut mullet.

Surf fisherman on the northern beaches are catching the much the same species as on the southern beaches. But like the piers on the northern beaches fishing can be greatly affected by water temperatures.

Hatteras Sound Report

Fisherman fishing the waters behind Hatteras Inlet have reported good puppy drum fishing. Besides puppy drum, sea mullet and bluefish are being caught. Some of the inshore guides are offering clamming trips in the sound. Clamming is good family fun with plenty of good eats after your trip.

Oregon Inlet Sound Report

Speckled trout is pretty dismal. There have been scattered reports of a few being landed. Last winter’s freeze was worse than was first thought. The head boats are catching croakers, pigfish, and the occasional flounder. Head boats are a great way to take a kid on his first charter. Head boats trips are four hours and have cabins and shade to get out of the sun. Each head bait carries two to three mates to help you out and show you the ropes.

Fishing licenses

North Carolina requires a Coastal Recreational Fishing License for freshwater and saltwater fishing. Most charter boats have blanket fishing licenses that cover all of their anglers, but check in advance to be sure. Annual or 10-day licenses are available at, at many local tackle shops or by calling (888) 248-6834 (Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.).

Size, bag limits

To see the most recent size and bag limits go to On the right side, under Hot Topics, click on “Recreational Size and Creel Limits.”

Get outside and enjoy the fishing, and remember that the supply is not endless — so only harvest what you need.Remember: When at the market or when dining out, ask for fresh local North Carolina seafood.


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