The weather is looking really fantastic for the upcoming, and probably the busiest, weekend of the year. July 1st arrives on Saturday and whether you’re planning a cookout with family or boating either inshore or offshore, unless something drastically changes, those who enjoy the outdoors are in for a real treat. Those who are hoping for some decent conditions to wet a line are truly in for a treat as wind and sea conditions are forecast to be slight to nonexistent. Water temperatures are reading in the upper seventies to lower eighties and water conditions appear to have rebounded from last week’s onslaught of strong southerly winds.
Inshore, the red drum fishing has really taken off, with lots of over slot fish being encountered around the jetties of Masonboro Inlet. Fresh cut bait has been the choice of fishermen but live finger mullet are also working. Just make sure to have tackle stout enough to land these fish quickly so they can be released in good health. Sharks are plentiful around the inlets aas well and will readily devour a slow or injured redfish. Some smaller slot sized fish are being caught on the same baits around the docks and in the creeks, mainly during the higher water. Soft artificial baits are also working for anglers using them as are topwater baits.
Flounder fishing has also picked up the pace, with lots of keeper fish being reported coming from the inlets and creeks, especially those with some decent mud banks in the vicinity. Finger mullet and mud minnows on Carolina Rigs are a hard tactic to beat but artificial baits are also working. Fishing waters that have a steady current, either rising or falling, is a necessity, as the flounder are looking for anything relief from the warm conditions. Cut bait such as fresh shrimp and fish has been working very good for black drum, which have also been plentiful in the creeks and waterway.
Anglers targeting sheephead have been having good luck fishing the bridge pilings as well as the pilings of the area docks as long as they have some significant growth on them. One arm bandits are the baits of choice and can be easily caught along the marsh during times of low tide. Tackle rigged with braid is your best choice as the fish like to wrap lines around the pilings when hooked and braid will help with cutoffs.
Along the beach, some spanish mackerel are still being encountered by those trolling Clark Spoons on weights and planers, with better times for fishing being early and late in the day. A few king mackerel have been caught by live baiters within three miles of the inlet, but the better fishing has been in the five to ten mile range, with both structure and baitfish in the area being a necessity. Areas around the 23 Mile Rock have been holding some king mackerel and a few sporadic dolphin, but with water temperatures heating up, expect the inshore dolphin encounters to also heat up as well as the occasional sailfish.
Bottom fishermen have been reporting some decent bottom fishing in depths starting at 80 feet deep but the sharks have also taken up residence and can become a quick nuisance. Changing locations several times can sometimes get anglers out them, but often anglers need to seek other locations with water depths greater than 100 feet. Once away from the sharks, the grouper fishing has been decent and angles are reporting some very large grunts.
Gulf Stream fishing has been hit or miss as water temperatures have caused the fish to be spread out. Anglers who find weed lines or temperature breaks have been reporting some good action from dolphin with an occasional wahoo and blackfin tuna with a stray billfish being reported.
With the holiday weekend quickly approaching, anglers and boaters especially, need to be reminding of the increased water traffic that will be occurring for the next couple of weeks. A lot of boaters will be inexperienced and unfortunately, some will be possibly impaired, so make sure you’re watching out for the other guy and operate defensively. Boat ramps will also be at and above capacity and with temperatures rising, so will temperaments. If venturing out, be patient and especially, be careful.