July is probably one of the toughest months to fish successfully in the waters around Wrightsville Beach. With daytime heating well into the 90s, water temperatures reading in the mid 80s and anglers having to dodge the numerous thunderstorms that form this time of year, finding a day to get on the water can prove difficult. Add to that almost 3 inches of rain earlier in the week with even more forecast to arrive, fishermen will now have to deal with some dirty water as well. Fortunately for anglers, August arrives next week and while the fishing during that month is also tough, conditions and the fishing should slowly get better.
Offshore, the bottom fishing seems to be producing best for anglers with plenty of grouper, snapper, triggerfish, black bass and other assorted bottom dwellers all being reported in decent numbers. While some anglers have had good luck with grouper in the 10-to-15 mile range, if you don’t have knowledge of specific ledges that hold fish this time of year, the better fishing is being found in the 30-mile range in around 100 feet of water. Those who elect to troll either live bait or ballyhoo are finding the fish are scattered as there are minimal temperature breaks between the beach and the Gulf Stream. Finding structure that is also holding bait will increase your chances of finding fish feeding nearby.
Along the beach, anglers are finding a few Spanish mackerel early and late in the day, with most of the fish caught using planers with Clark Spoons. The near-shore ledges are holding some decent populations of keeper flounder and anglers are targeting them with Carolina Rigged finger mullet and the larger Gulp baits. Anglers are also finding some gray trout mixed in, but remember the limit of one fish per day per person with a minimum size of 12 inches.
Fishermen trying their luck along the beach and off the pier are finding some Virginia mullet, black drum and croaker using cut shrimp. A few flounder and red drum have been caught on live minnows and artificial baits. Pier fishermen have also had some luck with Spanish mackerel and bluefish on Got-Cha Plugs early in the morning. King mackerel fishermen have reported sightings of a few tarpon, with one fish hooked but lost over the weekend.
Inshore, the fishing has been slow around the Wrightsville Beach waters, with reports of some red drum caught around the docks and in the creeks. Flounder fishing has been decent but with very few keepers, as the majority of the fish are measuring just shy of the legal limit of 15 inches. Areas around Carolina Beach Inlet and also the islands in the Cape Fear River have been better locations to find keeper flounder, with some fish up to 10 pounds being reported.