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Coastal fishing report: New limits in effect for spotted sea trout

New size limits went into effect Oct. 5 statewide for spotted sea trout. The new limits are 14-inch total length and 10 per day, per angler.
Offshore anglers in the Northern District of Dare, Hyde, Currituck and Beaufort counties have had fair to good results recently, according to Brian Melott of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
Fishermen have been catching dolphin, wahoo and amberjack along with a few Atlantic bonito, little tunny and skipjack, yellowfin, and blackfin tuna. Billfish catches were slow.
Midrange fishing was uneventful, with the exception of a few king mackerel and in the 15-20 mile range.
Anglers caught sheeps-head, tautog, triggerfish, spadefish and black drum on artificial reefs.
Near shore anglers caught plenty of keeper-sized red drum, with most catches being in the backwash of the surf zone. Sand fleas and shrimp were the bait of choice. Kingfish, spot and large croakers were also caught in the same area.
In the inlets/sounds/bays: There were nice catches of spotted seatrout and flounder throughout the area. Flounder catches were best at Oregon Inlet near the shallow areas of the assorted islands and land masses. Spotted seatrout catches were best in the early-mid morning hours and at dusk. Catches were best in the Roanoke Sound off the “little bridge” and underneath the Washington Baum bridge opposite Pirates Cove Marina. Red drum have moved into Oregon Inlet and were caught by almost everyone with a line in the water. Most specimens were in the legal slot limit. Striped bass catches continued to improve, but most specimens were undersized. Bridge structures continue to offer anglers nice specimens of sheepshead and black drum when little else is available.
Fishing success rates on piers were similar to the near shore boaters, with catches of red drum being the most consistent. Kingfish, croakers, puffers and spot were caught in moderate amounts. Assorted other species were caught in low amounts including flounder, weakfish, spotted seatrout, black seabass, puffers, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, pigfish, pinfish, red and black drum, banded rudderfish, striped burrfish, lizardfish, skates and assorted rays and sharks.
Red drum catches were among the best of the year. Water temperatures in the surf remain in the lower-mid 70s.
In the Central District of Pamlico, Craven, Carteret and Onslow counties, Andrea Olsen of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries reported those trolling offshore were catching wahoo, but dolphin and tuna have become scarce.
Bottom fishing was great, with fisherman catching limits on beeliners, triggerfish, grunts, amberjacks, grouper and some sea bass that weighed just under 4 pounds. The bait is still thick just off the beaches.
Recreational anglers should be aware that new snapper/grouper regulations went into effect at the end of July.
Legal size flounders have been difficult to find lately. Queens Creek in the Swansboro area turned out to be a great place for black drum.
The Pamlico River and Core Sound produced keeper flounder and large red drum.
The Southern District of Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties saw some good offshore wahoo fishing recently, as reported by Dennis Trowell of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
Bottom fishing was slow for groupers but some big vermilion snapper were being caught. Closer to shore the king mackerel fishing really heated up off Southport.
Area piers reported some really good spot runs, along with some pompanos and bluefish.
old river channel was the hot spot with most fish being in the mid to upper 20 pound range. Near/shore reefs produced flounder, Spanish mackerel, and an increasing amount of gray trout.
Inlets/Sounds/Bays: Fishing has been good overall. Trout, drum, and flounder fishing has been good over the last couple of weeks. The Southport/Oak Island area has been producing some really nice trout catches of late. The Elizabeth River and the creeks behind Bald Head Island have been two of the hot spots of late. Fishing has been good in the Cape Fear River up to down town Wilmington. There are some stripers being caught up river as well. The Topsail Island area reports great red drum fishing in the marshes along with some trout starting to show up.
Piers/Shore: All last week. The spots are big for the most part and if you are lucky to be there when a school comes though you can fill a cooler in no time. , sea mullets, , and some black drum. Spanish mackerel fishing has been outstanding on some area piers. Surf fishermen are catching a little of everything – pompano, sea mullet, back and red drum, and some keeper flounder. Sand fleas and finger mullet have been the two best baits of late.

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