The weather for the month has been pretty much pristine if you are a fisherman. Highs reaching towards eighty degrees have caused the water temperatures to rise, (something not normally seen during this month), and are now reading in the lower 60s.
Those warming temperatures have caused some pretty decent fishing in area waters and have just about canceled out any winter doldrums normally experienced during this time of year. Now with the arrival of March, anglers can really start preparing for the spring season although the month can sometimes produce some not so nice winter weather, so we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed.
Inshore, the fishing has gotten almost to the point where it left off late last year. While not exceptional, anglers are having decent luck with a variety of species and some that anglers normally don’t come across during the winter months. Virginia mullet have been plentiful in the lower Cape Fear River and there are reports that some fish have also been found in the surf at both Wrightsville and Carolina Beaches. Fresh shrimp is the bait of choice while fishbites and cut bait are also working.
If fishing the river, look for the boats and find yourself a spot, without crowding the others, in water depths about 20-25 feet. The speckled trout fishing has also come back alive with lots of fish being reported in the creeks and around the inlets. Live mud minnows are hard to beat this time of year. but with the warming waters, artificial baits are starting to produce good results as well. Red drum are being found in the same locations as well as around the docks and creek mouths. Black drum are also being found in good numbers around the docks and oyster beds. Cut bait and shrimp will work to entice them.
Bluefish have been reported being caught in the Topsail area and northward the past week, which goes to show just how weird this winter season has been. While bluefish will sometimes show up in the first week or two of March if conditions are right, large numbers of them arriving in February is almost unheard of. Most of the fish have been in the one- to two-pound range. Anglers will have to keep their eyes to the forecast and be prepared should other species of fish decide to pay our area an early visit.
Offshore, the bottom fishing has been good for black bass in water depths around 70 feet. The Gulf Stream fishing has been good for wahoo when the conditions allow. This week doesn’t look so great for a blue water trip but next week is looking promising if the extended forecast holds.
In other fishing news, starting March 1st, the recreational flounder limit will be decreasing from six fish per person to four fish. The size limit will remain the same at fifteen inches.