By: Steve Fifer
‘Bout time. The weather has started to improve anglers can now get to the fish. The overall water condition is actually real good considering how much wind and rain we’ve had this spring. The best fishing is nearshore especially around the inlets and close-in AR’s. Spanish mackerel are mixed in with bluefish in big numbers around the Cape Lookout shoals and Shark Island. For maximum sport, try trolling for them with a light (1 to 3 ounce), in-line trolling sinker, 25’ of leader and a Size 0 or 00 Clarkspoon. If you can’t catch them up top, then switch to the small size #1 planer. Casting small jigs for them is great fun, too. Don’s Glass Minnow jigs, Sea Striker’s Jigfish, or Casting Spoons, or small Stingsilvers that closely match the small baitfish retrieved rapidly will draw vicious strikes. In addition the Cape, look for these fish around the newly formed shoals that used to be Shackleford Banks and even in the ICW from the west end of the turning basin to the Atlantic Beach bridge. Cobia are here and if you like bottom fishing for them with live or cut bait among lots of other boats doing the same thing, head to Barden’s Inlet. If you prefer sight fishing, there’s bait balls from the shoals all the way down the beach to Bogue Inlet. The local AR’s (315, 320, 330) have lots of spanish, blues, gray trout, and assorted bottomfish around all their structure and very recently a bunch of smaller “snake” king mackerel have moved onto the reefs. The east side of the Cape gets a lot less pressure and has a great AR (the 285), live bottom (30 Minute and 1700 Rocks) and very productive wrecks like the Caribe Sea (D Wreck), Portland, and the Atlas Tanker. Bottom fishing or jigging will produce grouper, black sea bass, triggerfish, and porgies in better numbers and quality than is typically found on our side. Flounder are being caught on all the previously mentioned AR’s and have moved inshore to the port wall. The hands-down best thing to use for them is a 2-ounce Spro bucktail with a 4” Gulp trailer drifted over the low relief structure. They don’t like the big sunken ships or stuff that sticks way up off the bottom.