Warm weather finally arrived in Wrightsville Beach this week, and the fish showed up off the beach, feeding like they've missed a few meals, according to Capt. Rick Bennett of Rod Man Charters, who said Atlantic bonito, Spanish mackerel, false albacore and bluefish have flocked to nearshore waters.

"True Atlantic bonito are a favorite spring fish here, and they have arrived with a vengeance in the last week or so," Bennett said. "The Three Mile Reef or Liberty Ship – or whatever you want to call it – is a great starting place, but you may see a school between Masonboro Inlet and there.

 

"If you see a school of fish busting the water on the way out, don't run by them to start at the artificial reef, but stop and fish. This spring has been strange and the water is slow to warm, but the fishing is good. This is the best bonito fishing in at least five years."

 

Bennett said Spanish mackerel, bluefish and false albacore are sometimes competing for the same school of baitfish and will be feeding together.The good news is, there is action and lots of it.

 

Bennett said fish will respond to trolling, casting and vertical jigging. He said many fishermen like to troll Size 00 Clark Spoons behind Nos. 1 and 2 planers, but he finds it simpler to troll small Yo-Zuri deep-diving Crystal Minnows. They dive without a planer, so there's much more feel and fight once a fish is hooked.

 

Years ago, Bennett began years ago replacing the treble hooks on the Crystal Minnows with a single hook; he said he doesn't miss many strikes and fish can be unhooked so much easier – especially those you are planning to release.

 

Bennett (910-520-7661) offers a guide service for people who would like the assistance of a guide for a day on their own boat, either roff the beach or back inside on reds, specks, flounder and black drum.