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Fishing Forecast

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Offshore trolling at Carolinas coast producing blackfin tuna, wahoo, large dolphin

By Tom Higgins
Correspondent

Offshore trolling improved markedly the past few days along the Carolinas coast, especially for parties fishing out of marinas on the S.C. Grand Strand.

Reports from Georgetown listed fine catches of mainly blackfin tuna, wahoo and large dolphin (mahi mahi).

Very big blackfin were boated off the N.C. coast from Oregon Inlet to Calabash/Little River. The Hatteras Island fleet appears to have scored best on the blackfin. Big bluefin tuna to 85 inches continued to be caught (and mostly released) off Oregon Inlet.

Lake Norman : Good for largemouth and spotted bass on jerk baits and swim lures cast to docks, rip-rap and bridge pilings. Good for crappie around piers and brush piles, mainly on minnows. Good to excellent for blue catfish on cut baits worked 10-30 feet deep in coves fed by creeks, with catches weighing up to 30 pounds reported.

Lake Wylie: Good to excellent for crappie around brush and boat docks. Appears to be producing the best crappie action on the Catawba River chain of lakes. Largemouth bass, just completing the spawn, on floating artificial worms and Senko lures. A big catch of bream anticipated as the moon waxes toward full during the next two weeks and the fish move to the shoreline. Good for catfish while drifting and using cut bait

Mountain Island Lake : Very good catches of crappie. Largemouth and spots also hitting well.

Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Good to excellent for bream on crickets, earthworms. Fair to good for catfish.

Union County lakes: Crappie biting very well system-wide at lakes Lee, Monroe, Twitty and Cane Creek Park. The bream catch likely will improve as the moon phase leads to shoreline bedding. Fair to good for largemouth on a variety of baits and lures.

Yadkin-Pee Dee River lakes: Action remains very good for crappie from High Rock Lake through lakes Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. The water level is back up at Blewett Falls after a draw-down. Blue catfish in the Pee Dee River below Blewett Falls. Increasing numbers of American shad, migrating up the Pee Dee from the Atlantic, in the tailrace at Blewett Falls dam. These fish are being caught mainly on small darts, which are jig-like lures.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory : Much improved for crappie at all three, with James producing especially well. Walleye taking crawlers worked along the shoreline at James. Good for largemouth at Rhodhiss and Hickory on lures cast to shorelines.

Fontana Lake : Fair for bass – largemouth, smallmouth and spotted – as the fish go on their beds to spawn. A few continue to be caught on shiners.

Lake Wateree : Fair for crappie around docks and shallow shoreline cover. Catfish continue to hit 10-15 feet deep in the creeks on cut gizzard shad. Scattered largemouth along the shoreline.

Lake Murray : Good for largemouth on soft plastic lures, crankbaits and jigs cast to docks. A big catch of bream and shellcrackers expected during the next several days on crickets, earthworms. Fair for catfish on cut baits while anchored over humps and points.

Santee Cooper lakes : Largemouth around shallow cover on soft plastic lures. Fair for crappie. Bream and shellcrackers in brush 15-18 feet down, but it’s likely the fish will begin moving to shoreline cover en masse during the next two weeks. Catfish in the shallows at night on cut baits.

Lake Hartwell : Good for catfish up the rivers on free-lined live baits. Catfish on the points at dawn. Fair to good for stripers and hybrids in the backs of creeks and on main lake points

Lake Keowee: Largemouth, spotted bass on drop-shot rigs worked 25-30 feet deep.

Lake Jocassee : Good for trout on spoons and stickbaits trolled 20-40 feet deep. Trout increasingly moving to the intake towers and taking crawlers and minnows.

Outer Banks : Nags Head area: Black drum, blowfish, puppy drum and whiting in the surf and at piers; Oregon Inlet: Good to excellent offshore for dolphin, with limit catches reported. The offshore catch also includes bluefin and yellowfin tuna; Hatteras Island: Excellent offshore for the Hatteras Village charter fleet, boating especially large blackfin tuna, lots of dolphin, some wahoo and a few billfish. Blues, spots and whiting in the surf and at piers from Rodanthe to Avon. Black drum, flounder and puppy drum in the area of Cape Point at Buxton, along with a few big red drum. Blues to 7 pounds in the surf at Hatteras Village; Ocracoke Island: A few large reds, puppy drum and whiting in the surf; Morehead City area: Very good to excellent for blues along the beach. Atlantic bonito at the artificial reefs. Gray trout, whiting in inshore waters. Reds in the marshes and at the Cape Lookout shoals. Blackfin tuna, gaffer dolphin, whiting and yellowfin offshore.

Southeast Coast : Large wahoo offshore, along with increasing numbers of gaffer dolphin. Spanish mackerel starting to show at Shallotte Inlet. Reds and trout in the backwaters. Blues, small flounder, pompano, red drum and whiting at piers..

S.C. Coast : Little River and Grand Strand areas: Blues and Spanish mackerel at piers on jigged gold hooks, along with flounder, pompano and speckled trout. Sheepshead at the Murrells Inlet and Georgetown jetties on fiddler crabs. Good to excellent for offshore species; Charleston area: Very good for trout in the back waters on topwater lures such as the Yozuri 3D Pencil and Heddon’s Chug-N-Spook. Sheepshead at the jetties and around bridge pilings on fiddlers and clam strips. Very good for blackfin tuna, dolphin and large wahoo offshore; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: No report.

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