With NC flounder season open, try lower Cape Fear

Flounder season is back in for North Carolina anglers, and the lower Cape Fear River is definitely a hotspot for these fish.

The 6-week flounder season runs through end of September

Just south of Wilmington, N.C., lies Southport, the center of the lower Cape Fear River basin. It’s one of the best places in North Carolina to target flounder now that the six-week recreational season has opened. 

For nearly 200 miles, the Cape Fear River traverses from the heart of the Tarheel State to the Atlantic Ocean’s salty shores, bringing nutrient-rich waters as baggage. Where the river meets the sea around Southport, a myriad of shallow and deep-water habitats creates a nursery ground for juvenile fishes and other bite-sized portions for flounder and other predators. 

Captain Jeff Wolfe of Seahawk Inshore Fishing Charters out of Carolina Beach said the lower Cape Fear river is one of the best places to fish along the eastern seaboard. It is also his home water. And he knows every nook and cranny of this place.     

Look for transition zones to target flatfish

“The mouth of the Cape Fear River is large and provides an abundance of habitat with a maze of creeks, structure, and plenty of prime habitat available to fish around,” said Wolfe (910-619-9580). “We have excellent habitat here and lots of flounder.”

Wolfe finds flounder associated with some type of change in habitat type. 

“We typically find flounder set up in places where shell bottoms or other types of structure meets up with sandy or muddy bottoms,” he said. 

These transition zones offer places for the flounder to lay motionless along the seafloor to ambush passing bait. Small fish and shrimp can’t go anywhere a flounder can’t. But the transition zones with some flat ground provide a key advantage for flounder. 

“We have a lot of these transition places around. We primarily target flounder by throwing jigs and covering a lot of ground with the trolling motor,” he said. 

Wolfe uses ¼-once jigheads with Gulp! and Z-Man soft plastics. He will typically fish around the falling tide when possible. And he focuses on the secondary creek mouths in Buzzard Bay, entrances to marinas, rock piles, and shallow coves adjacent to deep water. 

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About Jeff Burleson 1257 Articles
Jeff Burleson is a native of Lumberton, N.C., who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences and is a certified biologist and professional forester for Southern Palmetto Environmental Consulting.

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