The near shore reefs off the coast of both Carolinas are producing some great fish for anglers. Sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, weakfish, and black sea bass are all biting, including more quality-sized fish than most anglers have seen at the reefs in some time. The star of the show though, has been the often under-appreciated bluefish.
“These aren’t the typical small bluefish that can be a nuisance on the reefs. These are big fish, with many of them between 8 and 15 pounds,” said Capt. Rob Bennett of Lowcountry Inshore Charters (843-367-3777).
Bennett decided to begin targeting these fish after he noticed big bluefish mutilating some of the weakfish and other fish his clients were reeling in. They even brought one bluefish on board that was clinging to a hooked fish.
“We had bluefish biting our summer trout in half while reeling them in, so I decided to troll for them. They’re hitting Yo-Zuri plugs, spoons, and typical king mackerel rigs with live bait like pinfish. We always see bluefish this time of year at these reefs, but this year there are more than ever, and these are bigger than normal,” he said.
Bennett said the bluefish are aggressive, and won’t hesitate to hit a lure or bait trolled at about 6 to 7 miles per hour.
And while many people knock bluefish for having too oily of a taste to make them worth cooking, Bennett has a solution for that. It’s as simple as having a Ziplock bag and a can of Sprite.
“Most people don’t like to eat bluefish because they are a very oily fish. But to get the oil out, all you have to do is put the meat in a Ziplock bag with some Sprite. Let them soak in the Sprite for a little while, then cook like normal. And if you want to cook it later, you can freeze the filets in the bag of Sprite. This really gives the fish a great flavor,” he said.
Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures (910-467-1482) is also catching plenty of bluefish while targeting redfish and trout near Topsail. These bluefish are bigger than normal too, but they have been in shallow water. Jernigan said these fish have been biting topwater plugs and have been putting on a show, tailing and walking in a foot of water.