While the focus of fishermen around Cape Lookout this week is on the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, plenty of fish are being caught much closer to the beach, according to Matt Lamb of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach.

Lamb said there are plenty of Spanish mackerel being caught off the beach, around the inlets and around Cape Lookout, cobia are still being caught daily if their numbers have dropped somewhat, and flounder have moved onto the nearshore artificial reefs.

“We really have a good mixture of fishing right now,” Lamb said. “Inshore fishing is pretty good and actually improving a little. More flounder are being caught every week, and some of them are really. Dropping a live minnow to the bottom around pilings at one of the many bridges in the area is a good way to arrange an introduction to a doormat flounder, and there are also some flounder along the edges of the channels.

Lamb (252-240-3474) expects speckled trout action to be excellent when the season opens on Sunday, and based on reports from fishermen, he expects to write a lot of citations over the next couple of weeks. He also said fishing for red drum is picking up.

Some of the best fishing going on, Lamb said, is for sheepshead around bridge and dock pilings and along the wall at the Morehead City State Port. “You can’t tie up there to fish, but if you can hold on so you can drop a bait immediately beside the wall, there’s a good chance a hungry sheepshead will find it.”

Lamb said most fishermen targeting sheepshead are using a Carolina rig with a heavier wire hook that is super sharp. Fiddler crabs are a popular bait, but Lamb recommends using sea urchins for better success, especially for inexperienced fishermen. He said the big difference is that sheepshead can suck a fiddler crab off the hook without fishermen knowing, but they have to crunch sea urchins to eat them, and the bite is much easier to feel.