Wes Barbour of Carolina Beach fishing is pretty much wide open from the creeks to the Continental Shelf, and the timing is right to enjoy a great day of fishing, catch a bunch of fish for the freezer or both.
“We’ve got a lot of things going on right now, but flounder fishing is some of the best,” Barbour said. “There are flounder almost everywhere. We’re finding them at the wrecks along the beach, in and around Carolina Beach Inlet, in Snows Cut and in the (Cape Fear) river. There are a lot of mullet moving, too, and the flounder like them. They are good baits and easy to catch right now, and that is the best start for good flounder catches.”
Barbour, who guides out of Island Tackle and Hardware (910-458-3049), said there has also been great speckled trout and red drum fishing, especially in the inlet and in the river. The fishing in the inlet has been best early in the day before the boat traffic picks up, and there is usually a really good bite sometime during the falling tide. The falling tide moves bait out of shallow and protected areas, and the fish go after them hard while they are available.
“There is also a lot of action and a variety of fish biting in the ocean,” Barbour said. “The Spanish mackerel action has slowed a little right along the beaches, but they have just moved a little ways offshore. They are still around many of the nearshore rocks and reefs and are feeding hard getting ready to head south for the winter.”
Barbour said the recent cool weather had moved the kings off the beach a few miles, but from there, kings were biting all the way out to Frying Pan Tower. He said a lot of kings were being caught on live baits, but there were some nice kings hitting frozen cigar minnows also.
“Wahoo fishing has been good for a while and it is continuing,” Barbour said. “They are holding over structure and along temperature changes at the edge of the Gulf Stream. There are also a lot of offshore bottomfish being caught. Most rocks or wrecks are holding a mixture of grouper, beeliners, pinkies, grunts, black sea bass and more. Catching some fillets for the freezer isn’t hard right now.”
Barbour said the flounder being caught include some of the largest of the year. While some flounder will hit soft plastics and other lures, these big flatties want live baits and will probably let just about anything else pass by. The most- popular way to catch big flounder has been big baits, and the mullet are large enough to get their attention.
Barbour said to make a heavy duty Carolina rig and maybe even go up a line size or two for a little more protection in case a larger fish hits. He said the ocean flounder are pretty shallow and a ½- to 1-ounce sinker will easily carry the bait down. Remember, he said, when flounder are eating big baits, it takes them a few seconds to get a bait turned so they can swallow it, so anglers need to wait a while before trying to set the hook.