North Carolina coastal fishing report

coastal fishing report
Shane Monroe and Raymond Roberts caught multiple red drum just like this one at Cape Lookout National Seashore this weekend. (Photo provided by Chasin' Tails Outdoors).

Multiple species are biting along N.C. coast

The usual spring suspects are biting all along the North Carolina coastline. And that’s good news as more boat ramps continue to reopen. Redfish continue to bite well in many areas. But it’s the trout — both grays (weakfish) and speckled varieties, that have stolen the show recently.

Neuse River Bait & Tackle in Grantsboro reports big numbers of gray trout on the nearshore wrecks off Atlantic Beach. And that includes some monsters. Angler Timmy Raynor, a frequent Neuse River Bait & Tackle customer, caught one of the biggest gray trout he’s ever seen while jig fishing there this weekend.

The speckled trout are biting like mad too. Another Neuse River Bait & Tackle customer, Michael Powell, has been hitting them hard on the Pamlico River with a friend. They caught upwards of 100 specks one day last week, including Powell’s personal best, a 26-incher. Powell caught a lot of his on a Cotton Candy Mirr-O-lure MR17 bought from the shop.

coastal fishing report
Michael Powell caught this speckled trout, and a heap more, while fishing last week on the lower Pamlico River. (photo provided by Neuse River Bait and Tackle).

Topwater bite is good during early morning

Specks are also biting Heddon Spooks and Spook Juniors, especially in the early morning hours. Soft plastic lures are also picking up plenty of trout when fished on jigheads.

The crew at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach is also seeing plenty of weakfish and specks. But the star of the show in the past few days is the 60-pound wahoo they weighed in. Youth angler Cruz Nelms caught that fish. He landed it on a locally-made Sea Witch rigged with a Baitmasters of South Florida ballyhoo he purchased from Chasin’ Tails.

Bull red drum are also biting in the area, especially for surf anglers around Cape Lookout National Seashore. Black drum and pompano are biting strong on some days in the surf as well, especially on cut squid fished on bottom rigs.

coastal fishing report
Shane Monroe and Raymond Roberts caught multiple red drum just like this one at Cape Lookout National Seashore this weekend. (Photo provided by Chasin’ Tails Outdoors).

Another standout for Chasin’ Tails customers has been bonito, which are biting in huge numbers. Yo-Zuri, DDS, Nomad Design Tackle DTX 85 minnows, Big Nic Fishing Spanish Candies, and Tim Still Custom Gunslingers are all producing bonito along the AR reefs.

Bonito are thick, but not for long

These fish are here in big numbers right now, but the Chasin’ Tails crew said their time is likely limited before they move on. So get on them now before they disappear. Many of the bonito are biting trolled lures, but anglers are also catching them on jigheads with soft plastics.

Also at the reefs, anglers are catching triggerfish, including a few that weighed more than five pounds.

At Buxton, the Red Drum Tackle Shop reports anglers continuing to catch big sharks. The red drum bite has been up and down, with some big ones caught from the surf on recent days. Pompano are also biting, along with gray trout along the south beach.

coastal fishing report
Aside from catching numerous bull redfish, Raymond Roberts has been catching pompano and black drum from the beach. (Chasin’ Tails Outdoors photo).

Anglers looking for bluefish will find them off Ramp 43, and they are here in a mixture of sizes. Plenty of sea mullets are still around, with big catches going down from Inlet Ramp 55 all the way to Ramp 38 in Avon. The jetties are holding good numbers of puppy drum.

Fresh mullet or bunker are good baits for the surf and the ramps, and Red Drum Tackle has plenty of both.

At Minnesott Beach, Capt. Dave Stewart of KnEDeeP Custom Charters is catching plenty of keeper specks and red drum of all sizes. The topwater bite has produced some good ones on D.O.A. PT-7 lures. Under the surface, Stewart is catching them on D.O.A. soft plastics under a popping cork. He expects the cobia to show up any day now, and is on the lookout for them while catching other species.

Capt. Dave Stewart likes the PT-7 because he can walk the dog in open water, or use it through even the thickest grass. The specks love it.

Expect the bite to get even better in coming weeks

Stewart has been booking few trips lately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said his books are filling up quickly for the bull red drum bite coming up. He catches fish up to 50-inches on popping corks with soft plastics, and it’s a style of big-game fishing that many anglers never even try. It’s a bite that will keep you coming back for more.

Capt. Mitchell Blake of Fish IBX Charters has the best of both worlds going on in the Inner Banks area. The stripers are biting hot both in the salt and way up the freshwater of the upper reaches of the Roanoke River.

The Pamlico River was holding plenty of stripers earlier in the month, with anglers catching two and even three fish on a single cast. The Roanoke River has taken the spotlight away from the Pamlico River recently, and for good reason. But Blake said the Pamlico is still a promising spot that anglers should not overlook right now.

Right where saltwater gives way to fresh, Blake said the bream bite is heating up quickly. Live crickets are always good options, but he said lures like Beetle-spins and Betts poppers are just as good, and don’t require constantly re-baiting a hook. Bass and crappie are also biting, so it’s a real smorgasbord for anglers right now.

coastal fishing report
Stripers are plentiful and biting heavily everywhere from the Pamlico on up the Roanoke River.

In all these areas and more, anglers expect the bite to stay strong and even improve in the coming weeks. With cool nights, mostly pleasant days, and many people out of work right now, it’s a great time to get on these waters and catch some fish.

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1694 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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