By: Steve Fifer
Fishing continues to improve as summer moves in. Ocean water temps are in the high 70’s and the water quality is excellent. The best fishing is for spanish mackerel. This year’s population is among the biggest – size wise – that we have seen here in a long while. The best places to look for them are anywhere around Cape Lookout from Shark Island to Barden’s Inlet and from Beaufort Inlet west along the beach towards the double Tree Hotel (formerly the Sheraton). You can always catch them trolling small Clarkspoons behind a small #1 planer but it is far more sporty and fun to use regular spinning tackle and pull a pair of small jigs rigged in tandem right on the surface. Tsunami and Don’s make them and all you’ll need is some 40# mono to tie them. You can also cast these jigs (or any small metal lures) for the spanish and blues as they attack bait in the flats on the shoals of the Cape or around any of the local, close-in AR’s like the 285, 315, and 320. The flounder are on those reefs, too. A 2-ounce Spro bucktail with a 4” Gulp shrimp attached is always the go-to bait. This is shaping up as a good year for king mackerel too. Lots of smaller ones are hanging with the spanish around the AR’s but there’s some bigger ones on the east side of the Cape around wrecks like the Caribe Sea, Atlas, and Portland tankers and live bottoms like 1700 and 30-Minute Rocks. The bottom fishing and deep jigging in these areas is terrific right now. Amberjack, groupers, sea bass, triggerfish, snappers, and porgies are aggressively feeding. Drop some cut bait down on a bottom rig or vertical jig a Stingsilver (1 to 3 ounce)or a Roscoe Jr. and expect bites real quick. Inside, speckled trout season has reopened, redfish are on the move in the marshes and oyster rock, and flounder can be caught around the port wall and behind Shackleford. Shrimp, crabs, and small baitfish are showing up in those places so Gulp or soft plastics on a light jighead, topwaters, and a popping cork rig with a plastic shrimp are good choices.