By Skylar Walters
Since Arthur rolled past late last week, the fishing has been rather slow for local anglers. The winds and waves that stirred up the waters should have probably cleared by now; however, stiff southwest winds have persisted and are only forecast to get worse before they get better. Add an approaching cold front that’s forecast to bring more wind and rain this week, and anglers just might have to wait another week or so before the waters start to clear. The forecast this weekend is for winds to diminish, which will be welcome by everyone. Water temperatures are in the mid-80s.
Inshore, the action should start returning to a more -summer-type pattern now that the influx of boat traffic has subsided. Anglers who were able to get away from the crowds enjoyed some decent fishing with both flounder and red drum. Better action was found in the bays and creeks in the lower Cape Fear River, but some had luck around Wrightsville Beach, fishing the docks and inlets.
Speaking of docks, anglers targeting sheepshead have had decent luck with one arm bandits, fiddler crabs and barnacles. Old-timers will tell you the best way to increase your chances of catching sheepshead is to scrape the barnacles off the pilings then lower your bait into the chum cloud. This not only camouflages your bait in the chum, but also the sheepshead feed, so fast, they won’t stop to inspect your offering before eating it. For those looking for flounder, there are plenty of baitfish in the creeks now. A creek mouth during a falling tide should be a good place to start looking for dinner. The deeper waters of the area inlets are also holding some fish as are the ends of the Mason-boro Inlet jetties.
Off the beach, the fishing has been limited by rough -conditions and muddy/dirty water churned up by the storm. A few anglers managed to report a few Spanish mackerel being caught along Masonboro Island; however, the fishing and catching has been few and far between. Farther off the beach, the king mackerel are in the 10-mile range, with better fishing being found about 5 miles farther out. Areas around the 23 Mile Rock out to around 30 miles have been producing some decent dolphin fishing. Bottom fishing in the 30-mile range has been producing decent catches of grouper, black sea bass, snapper and trigger fish.
For those bottom fishing in these areas, the short season for red snapper will officially open this weekend. During the dates July 11-13, July 18-20 and July 25-26, anglers will be able to keep one red snapper per person. For more information, visit the NCDMF website.