By: Steve Fifer
It’s looking like the fish that should have been here weeks ago are finally showing up in good numbers locally. Maybe the winds will subside enough to go catch ‘em. Offshore, the places to start to look for mahi start at about the 150’ depth and continue out to the Gulf Stream. There’s some good weedlines out there and if you find stuff floating in that depth of water, there should be dolphin (mahi) hanging around. The billfish and wahoo are in the deeper water of the Gulf Stream over familiar structure like the Big Rock southward towards the Swansboro Hole. For the light tackle, smaller boat folks, there’s plenty of action along the beaches and around the nearshore wrecks. The Cape Lookout shoals are a great place for spanish mackerel and bluefish right now. Look for them in the 10’ to 20’ water as close to the white water as you can safely fish. Either cast or troll small metal jigs to the schools of feeding fish. There are a number of these small lures on the market. Just keep them small – nothing over an ounce – so they closely match the size of the baitfish. Spanish and blues are toothy critters, but you don’t necessarily need wire leaders; 40# mono will work just fine. Fluorocarbon works too, but it really isn’t needed for this type of fishing. The best way to find the fish is just troll around with the same jigs. They’ll ride just under the surface and when you get a bite, just stop, cast around, and reel like crazy! The biggest news is that the cobia are arriving in good numbers now. If you prefer to soak bait for them, you can join the dozens of boats at Barden Inlet. If you like to sight-fish for them, cruise the just off the beach from Bogue Inlet all the way to the Cape and watch for bait balls, sea turtles, or schools of rays. Cobia love to hang around with them. The other two late arrivals are at the local AR’s; flounder and bonito. The bonito are typically a first-light bite, but trolling Yo-Zuri deep diving Crystal Minnows around the AR 315 and 320 works well when the sun gets higher. A Spro 2-ounce bucktail tipped with a 4” white Gulp shrimp is all you need to catch flounder on the reefs. They’re showing up inside, too where drifting a live mud minnow or finger mullet on a carolina rig is the best rig.