Fisheries of Note
Here on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina we are blessed with a great diversity of saltwater finfish species to pursue. As positioned, we are the southern range for may northern species and the northern range for many southern species. Maximum diversity is achieved late spring through fall, but with cooperative weather, there is a fish species available to pursue every month of the year. Amongst all of this opportunity and possibility there are some special fisheries of which you should be aware so as not to miss out!
One of my favorites! Mr. Brownsuit migrates up the east coast every spring and that migration passes through the waters of Cape Lookout starting around Mothers Day weekend continuing into June. The game is more of a hunt as we look for cruising fish that are free swimming, on bait balls of menhaden, or travelling with a Loggerhead. Sight fishing at its best. Nothing like watching a Cobia turn and zero in on your presentation. If weather or sea conditions prevents sight fishing, anchoring up and bottom fishing is productive as well. Don’t delay book your Cobia trip today.
Trophy Red Drum
(August and September)
Late summer sees the influx of mature red drum into the Pamlico Sound and its many tributaries, particularly; the Neuse River to gorge on bait and spawn to ensure the next generation. These fish are large, with most being 40 to 60 lbs. This is a world class fishery with few rivals. But don’t be mistaken it is hard work requiring boat stealth and angler persistence with no guarantee, but the payoff is huge: Giant Bull Drum on light tackle! This fishery is strictly regulated as Catch and Release ONLY. Our preferred method is popping corks rigged with large swimbaits. Rough conditions not conducive to popping corks will require the to switch anchoring up and bottomfishing cut bait on shoals and hardbottom. An unbelievable experience, not to be missed.
These aggressive and tasty favorites have strong populations off our coast but are highly regulated, for that reason they make this list. These aggressive and tasty favorites have strong populations off our coast but are highly regulated, for that reason they make this list. The season usually consists of multiple weekends that start the 2nd Friday of July. To plan your trip timing for Red Snapper check the most up to date season announcements at: https://safmc.net/regulations/regulations-by-species/red-snapper/ Grouper, vermillion snapper, triggerfish, black sea bass will also be in the catch as reds share the same habitat with many other bluewater bottomfish. These fish are only available to harvest for 6 days of a year, so book your Offshore trip aboard the “Ragtime” to get your opportunity.
(Late April to June)
Mahi Mahi are at maximum density in our offshore waters late spring to fall and they can honestly be encountered year round, but nothing matches the spring migration (Late April through Early June) for shear numbers of gaffer dolphin passing through our waters. Multiple hook ups are common and nothing entertains like a lit up Bull tail-walking behind the boat. And to boot they are just plain tasty. The Ragtime puts in the work with rides to the Gulf Stream. As nearshore waters warm some of these fish will push in and become bonus catches on nearshore trips. Don’t delay book your Mahi trip selecting Full Day Offshore trip.
Makes this list due to restricted seasons. Flatfish are in my top 5 species to pursue, I love catching them and I love eating them. Recreational season is slated to open Mid August and close at the end of September in both internal and ocean waters. Additionally, my possession of a commercial license will extend the ability of clients to go home with flounder through late October while fishing in internal state waters. Tactics include vertical jigging, casting plastics, and of course feeding them live bait. If you are wanting to take home some delicious flounder filets make sure to book a trip during this time frame.
(Late Sept through Early December)
Barring any extended frigid winter events. Trout are available 12 months a year on the Crystal Coast, however: the fall and early winter are the peak as these fish school up and put on the feed bag. Action can be fast and furious and nothing beats the feel of that unmistakable THUMP! Only putting icing on the cake, this time of year is also prime for slot red drum and flounder as they too are ganged up and hungry. You need a fall get away, reserve your Breakday today!
(October – November)
Pound for pound one of the strongest fish paddling our waters. They are just silly fun to catch with blistering runs and bulldog pullage. These speedsters are present year round but the fall fishery can be amazing with fish ranging from the surf zone to 10 miles out. Chasing busting fish or setting up on bait balls to wait their arrival is the norm but that can be subsidized with fishing behind Shrimp Trawls when they are present. Light tackle spinning gear and fly gear gets the nod presenting match the hatch casting jigs and flies, respectively. Everything about this fishery is visual including the scenery. Not to be missed
Giant Bluefin Tuna
(Mid November to Mid January)
One of the few places in the world where these fish are available nearshore. They are here to binge on abundant bait, namely Menhaden. We encounter these fish from just off the beach out to 15 miles. It’s a trolling game with live baiting opportunities under the right conditions. No long boat rides to pursue these bluewater giants and almost always within sight of land. Harvest option include either recreational regulations 1 fish less than 73” or commercial regulations 1 fish greater than 73”. When commercial harvest is open, legal fish are kept by the boat and the cost of charter is reduced to trip expenses only. Book your Bluefin adventure aboard the Ragtime today.
(Late August through November)
Like many of the species in this list, encountering wahoo is a possibility 12 months a year: however, late summer through fall in the Gulf Stream waters off Cape Lookout offers world class wahoo fishing in both numbers and size. Crushing strikes and blistering runs coupled with tablefare excellence makes them my favorite denizen of the bluewater. Bonus to this, these speedsters share the waters surrounding the Big Rock with other pelagics such as sailfish and blackfin tuna, that are also at a seasonal abundance. Book your offshore charter today on the Ragtime for your next bluewater adventure.