The fishing around Carolina Beach, especially for flounder, puppy drum and speckled trout, is heating up as the water cools – and it was already pretty good.

"We've had a good year of fishing, so far and it is on track to be excellent this fall," said Wes Barbour of Island Tackle and Charters in Carolina Beach. "Flounder are the favorite of many fishermen and they have been biting in the (Cape Fear) River, Snows Cut, Carolina Beach Inlet, the bays at Fort Fisher and on the nearshore wrecks and artificial reefs. Flounder over five pounds are pretty common, and there have been some really big ones caught. That should continue for a while and maybe even get a little better."

Barbour (910-458-3049) said flounder have been hitting mullet minnows, and fishing them on Carolina rigs was the preferred local method. He said some fishermen have also been using small menhaden as bait, and they are readily available between Carolina Beach Yacht Basin and the Dredge Hole behind the island.


"We're also catching a lot of red drum," Barbour said. "There are some small ones in the marshes and some larger ones in the river and on the wrecks along the beach. The larger drum in the ocean like mullet minnows and are usually caught by fishermen after flounder. They are a nice surprise and make a good picture before being released."


Barbour said the smaller drum in the marsh and creeks are also hitting mullet minnows, small menhaden, shrimp and a variety of soft plastics. Some mornings and evenings they will also hit topwater lures and that is really exciting. 


The speckled trout bite has been mixed all summer, with lots of short to barely legal fish, with some 3- to 5-pounders mixed in. More large fish have been caught with the first few degrees of cooler water in the past few weeks, and Barbour said that should get better as the cooling continues.


"Trout will hit soft plastic and hard lures like MirrOlures and Rapalas, but they rarely refuse a live shrimp," Barbour said. "We have a lot of shrimp in the river this year, and as long as they are there, the trout fishing will be good. Most fishermen put the shrimp on a float rig and drift it along oyster rocks and grass lines."


Barbour said along the rocks at Fort Fisher was a great place to catch trout. He said the rocks run several miles to Bald Head Island and the trout could be anywhere or everywhere. Fishermen in shallow-draft boats have good luck along the inside on the rock wall, while fishermen in deeper-draft boats must fish the river side. Both have good numbers of trout, just at different tides.


Barbour said fishermen who prefer to troll will find Spanish mackerel biting outside the inlets, and the latest reports include a few king mackerel moving closer to the beaches.