The fishing conditions are slowly improving for the month of April and the fish are responding as well.
Sunny skies and temperatures reaching well into the 80s last week have helped to cure some of the cabin fever that anglers have been experiencing.
Water temperatures, however, have been slower to respond but are now reading in the mid 50-degree range, somewhat cool for the second week of April but not so off the mark that the fishing shouldn’t rebound into a normal pattern in the coming weeks.
Sea conditions allowed anglers to head off the beach late last week before the wind arrived once again. Those heading to the Gulf Stream found some decent action from wahoo and a few blackfin tuna around the Same Ole Hole. The area around the Big Rock also held some wahoo and tuna as well as some dolphin and a couple of reports of sailfish. Closer to the beach, the bottom fishing has remained decent with reports of black sea bass in the 15-mile range with triggerfish and snapper being reported in deeper water around 40 miles out.
Inshore fishing has been steadily picking up with reports of red drum being caught in the creeks, channels and around the docks. Black drum are also becoming a regular topic of conversation among anglers and can be caught in the same locations the red drum are being found. Fresh shrimp, or at least the freshest shrimp you can find, rigged on two hook dropper rigs will ring the dinner bell for the black drum if they are anywhere in the vicinity.
The lower Cape Fear River is also holding some decent amounts of red drum in the bays and creeks. Soft artificial baits, such as Gulp, worked along the grass and around the oyster bars should entice a drum if it’s near. Now that the water has warmed a little, anglers are reporting more bait, such as mud minnows and tiger minnows. If using live bait sounds like a better option than fishing all day with artificials, then investing in a minnow trap is a good idea. Anglers’ opinions, as usual, vary when asked which bait is the best for minnow traps. Chicken liver and even bologna top the list. Dropping a baited trap in a creek or along an oyster bed for a couple of hours while you fish with artificial bait should produce enough minnows to finish out the day. However, as with anything in fishing, some days and locations produce more minnows than others, so don’t bank on just fishing with live minnows this early in the season.
Elsewhere, surf and pier fishing have been slowly improving as well, with reports of Virginia mullet and a few red drum being caught. The mullet are on the small side but there are a few keepers in the mix.