Capt. Butch Foster of Yeah Right Charters in Southport said if the weather would just cooperate for a while, the fishing around Southport would be excellent – and the bottom-fishing is pretty good as it is. 

“Flounder fishing on the nearshore rocks, wrecks and artificial reefs was excellent before this front moved in and stalled over us,” Foster said. “They were really biting well, and there were a lot of nice fish. Sometimes the excess rainwater doesn’t get all the way to the bottom and doesn’t affect them, and we’ll have to hope that is what happens again.”

Foster said offshore bottom-fishing has been really good all summer off Southport. He said about the only thing that slowed it down were days that were either too windy to go or windy enough it was hard to feel bites. 

“We don’t concentrate on just grouper but go to areas where there will be a lot of action with a variety of fish,” Foster said. “We catch some grouper on about every trip, but we catch a lot of grunts, porgys, triggerfish, beeliners, black sea bass and more. We also usually catch an amberjack or almaco jack or two and sometimes catch hog snapper and African pompano. We have found most fishermen like to catch, not just wait on a bite.” 

Foster said his rigs and baits for offshore bottomfish are pretty simple. He uses a chicken rig with a pair of 10/0 size Mustad 39960 circle hooks. He said these hooks are pretty versatile and will catch the smaller reef fish and are tough enough to handle the grouper, amberjack and other large fish that are feeding with them. 

Foster uses a mixture of cut bait, pieces of squid and cigar minnows for bait. He baits different rigs with different bait until he sees if the fish have a preference that day.

And then, there’s the Jaws factor. 

“We get a lot of fishermen that want to catch a shark,” Foster said. “There really is a fascination with sharks, and shark fishing has been good this year. We have been catching a lot of nice blacktips nearshore, and they always jump at least once during the fight, which makes it more exciting. Offshore, we have been catching tiger sharks, and it seems like we have at least one check us out every day we are bottom-fishing. Tiger sharks don’t jump, but they are pretty big and look really good in the clear offshore water.”