Capt. Dennis Barbour of Island Tackle Fishing Charters in Carolina Beach said the inshore fishing has been very good in local waters – and he expects it to get better.

Barbour said fishermen have been catching flounder, puppy drum and speckled trout, and some of the “late-fall” fish, including Virginia mullet and gray trout, are showing up. And an expected cold front expected in a day or two might improve the fishing even more.

“When the water started cooling this fall, (the fishing) got real good and has continued,” said Barbour (910-470-5041). “Then, when all the bait got stirred up and began moving, it set the fish off, and our fishing has been good since.”

Barbour, who includes the nearshore ocean fishing for flounder, larger red drum and gray trout as part of the inshore fishing, said the action starts in the Cape Fear River and goes all the way to the nearshore ocean. A strong flounder bite is on in the river, through Snows Cut and Carolina Beach Inlet to the nearshore wrecks scattered just off the beach. Some over-slot and really large red drum also occasionally try to steal a bait when fishing these wrecks. 

Barbour said the inshore bait isn’t as thick as it has been and will be thinning for a few more weeks until it is gone. Some small pogies and finger mullet are still in most of the bays in the river and Carolina Beach yacht basin, plus some shrimp in some of the shallow areas along the bank and around the spoil islands upriver and downriver from Snows Cut. 

“There is still enough bait around that fishermen are having their best luck with live baits,” Barbour said. “They are using mullet minnows and small pogies on Carolina rigs to catch flounder and drum. Mullet minnows and shrimp suspended under floats also catch drum and speckled trout, with the trout seeming to prefer shrimp.” 

Barbour said when fishing in the river to concentrate on the points off the bank or around the spoil islands. Anything that disrupts the water flow and gives the larger fish a place to hide out of the current has potential. When the tide is higher, trout and drum will move along the grass banks along the back of the spoil islands in a foot or two of water looking for food and if you get a live bait in front of them they rarely refuse it.

Barbour said that fishing in the ocean was a matter of finding structure and fishing it. Some nearshore rocks off Fort Fisher are holding gray trout, but the best action for flounder and those occasional larger red drum is around the artificial reefs and wrecks just off the beach. The Phillip Wolfe Reef (AR 378) is the closest artificial reef to Carolina Beach Inlet, about 2.5 miles south of the inlet in approximately 40 feet of water.