Well, July is here, and for the most part, the fishing forecast will remain fairly constant. It is not the summer doldrums but steady mid-summer fishing. Find some time and enjoy it.
Dolphin fishing should remain steady. The vast majority of the dolphin caught and returning to the docks will be bailers. Mixed in the bailers will be the occasional bigger dolphin called gaffers. Blackfin tuna will the most numerous tuna caught out of Hatteras Inlet. As always, there will be scattered catches of wahoo. Mid-July will often witness a good billfish bite for the boats out of Hatteras, as well as Oregon Inlet.
Oregon Inlet Offshore
Yellowfin tuna fishing is still holding, and good catches will still be made. So far this spring and early-summer, the big eye tuna fishing has been extra good. There is no reason these hard fighting big tuna should not be around through July, as well. Bailer dolphin will the most numerous, but also an occasional gaffer. Like in Hatteras, billfish can be active in mid-July.
Hatteras Inlet Nearshore
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are the still the main staples of the nearshore fishing around Hatteras Inlet. Anglers looking for sharks should be pleased.
Oregon Inlet Nearshore
Bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been abundant. Great catches of both have been made right around Oregon Inlet. Ribbonfish have made an appearance again this summer. These tasty toothy creatures should remain the rest of the summer mid-July. Some big red drum will be caught off the beaches, either by sight casting or by trolling.
Warm ocean water temps have heated up the pier action, with Spanish mackerel and bluefish on the end. Several piers have reported excellent catches of Spanish mackerel last week. Besides the action on the end, pier fisherman are catching croakers, spot, flounder, and bluefish. The piers on the southern beaches are reporting the close to the same catches. The first big king mackerel of the summer were landed from the local piers. A few flounder have also been reported. Warm water is key to pier fishing in the summer. Strong southwest winds can cause a temperature inversion. The strong southwest or west wind will blow all the warm water off the beach, pulling up the colder water from the bottom. These chilly water temperatures can slow fishing both on the piers and surf.
In the Sand
Surf fishing on Hatteras Island has been decent. Wildly swinging water temperatures have hindered catches of croakers, pompano, spot, and sea mullet. All of these tasty fish will bite fresh shrimp and sand fleas (mole crabs). Bluefish, and the occasional puppy drum, will also be crushing the surf line. These two species prefer cut bait suck as fresh jumping mullet and menhaden. All of the natural baits are available at your local tackle shop. Surf fishing along the northern beaches has been good, as long as the water stays warm. Caches of croakers, sea mullet, and bluefish have all been reported.
Hatteras Sound Report
The waters behind Hatteras Inlet have been producing a few speckled trout. Bluefish has been strong. Some of the captains are offering clamming trips, as well.
Oregon Inlet Sound Report
Speckled trout fishing is still dismal. The winter kill was much larger than hoped. Hopefully, the puppy drum fishing will become more consistent. Bottom fisherman have had good catches of sea mullet, croakers, and small flounder. The head boats have been having a good summer with good catches of sea mullet and croakers.
Tackle shops and marinas are super resources for information. They have all the current scoop and are more than happy to help you get rigged up or plan a charter fishing trip.
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 ncwildlife.org, at many local tackle shops (see the list online) 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 http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/. 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.