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Fishing Forecast

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754-pound blue marlin highlights red-hot offshore action in Carolinas

By Tom Higgins
Correspondent
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- Photo Courtesy Of Ryan McKinney
Ryan Kinney with a 34-pound flathead catfish he caught a few nights ago at Lake Norman along with a regular fishing buddy, Carson Jackson. Both are from Denver, N.C., and regularly target big catfish. Ryan, a rising senior at South Carolina, boated this one on baitcasting tackle with 14-pound test line. It took him 1 hour and 45 minutes to work it close enough to be netted by Jackson, a UNCC sophomore. The fish, hooked near Governor’s Island, was released.

For the second straight week, reports from Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks to Georgeown in the S.C. Lowcounty are of excellent action, especially for billfish and dolphin, or mahi-mahi. A 754-pound blue marlin was weighed in Monday at Morehead City as the 56th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament began.

The big billfish, third largest in tournament history, was boated by an angler trolling from the boat Inspiration, skippered by Casey Wagner of Morehead City. In a twist of fate, that boat was damaged by lightning Tuesday morning while headed offshore and later in the day was under tow back to port.

Freshwater fishing across the Carolinas is very good for bream and catfish. Bream action likely is to increase even more as the moon waxes toward full, leading the fish to bed along the shoreline.

Lake Norman : Good for catfish on cut baits, especially the heads of bream and gizzard shad, fished 10-30 feet deep. Flathead catfish on live bream. Fair to good for crappie around cover 25-30 feet down on jigs, minnows. Fair to good for largemouth and spotted bass during early morning on flukes, Pop R plugs and swimming lures cast to shaded areas along the shoreline.

Lake Wylie: Continuing fair for largemouth bass on deep-running crankbaits, football jigs and Ol’ Monster Lures. Good for crappie on minnows worked around cover 20-30 feet deep. Good for blue catfish, especially in the South Fork arm, on cut shad.

Mountain Island Lake : Fair to good for crappie around deep cover on minnows. Bream and catfish on traditional baits.

Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Excellent for bream on crawlers and crickets. Catfish on crawlers and other traditional baits.

Union County lakes: Good for largemouth bass at Lake Monroe, mainly on soft plastic lures. Bream and catfish at all lakes – Cane Creek Park, Lee, Monroe and Twitty. Crappie from around deep cover at Cane Creek.

Yadkin-Pee Dee River lakes: Bream and catfish are the main targeted species, with Badin and Tillery appearing to produce best. They’re hitting well at the others – High Rock, Tuckertown and Blewett Falls. The catch of American shad in the tailrace at Blewett Falls has dropped considerably. Catfish in the Pee Dee below Blewett Falls.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory : Good for walleye at James on crawlers worked off clay points, mainly at night. Fair to good for crappie around deep brush and other cover at all three reservoirs.

Fontana Lake : Slow for all species. The best bet for bass is casting artificial worms and topwater lures to the edges of flotsam in the shoreline pockets.

Lake Wateree : Good for catfish on cut shad and white perch.

Lake Thurmond: Good to excellent for shellcrackers on crickets and earthworms worked just off the banks.

Lake Murray : Fair for crappie around brush 20-25 feet deep, mainly on minnows. Slow to fair for largemouth. The bass are mostly hitting topwater lures during early morning.

Santee Cooper lakes : Fair for largemouth on soft plastic lures worked around the bases of cypress trees, especially in Lake Marion, the upper reservoir. Fair for crappie 15-20 feet deep around brush.

Lake Hartwell : Fair for largemouth and spotted bass during early morning on topwater lures and flukes. The bass continue to hit off clay points and around the grass line created when the lake was at a lower level. Slow to fair for crappie, with the best fishing at night around bridge pilings.

Lake Keowee: Fair to good for largemouth and spotted bass on surface lures cast to points in early morning.

Lake Jocassee : No report.

Outer Banks : Nags Head area: Fair to good for puppy drum, whiting in the surf. Scattered flounder, pompano, puppy drum and whiting at piers; Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for limits of large yellowfin tuna, along with bigeye tuna to 185 pounds, dolphin and white marlin. Good for blues and Spanish mackerel inshore. Sheepshead at the Bonner Bridge spanning the inlet. Puppy drum and speckled trout in the sound; Hatteras Island: Excellent off Hatteras Village for limits of large dolphin, blackfin tuna and billfish. Cobia in the surf near Hatteras Village and in the inlet. Good to excellent for flounder in the sound. Fair for blues, croaker, flounder, pompano, spots and whiting in the surf from Rodanthe to Avon. The surf is yielding pompano and whiting from Buxton to Frisco, along with a few puppy drum; Ocracoke Island: Numerous cobia by boat inshore. Scattered flounder, pompano, puppy drum and whiting in the surf; Morehead City area: Excellent offshore for blue marlin, dolphin. Cobia and Spanish mackerel inshore. Fair for blues, puppy drum, spots and whiting at piers, along with a few flounder.

Southeast Coast : Very good in the backwaters for flounder and reds, or puppy drum. Fair to good offshore for dolphin, with billfish and blackfin tuna showing in the catch. Spanish mackerel close to shore. Blues, cobia, flounder, red drum, Spanish mackerel and whiting at piers.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Fair for blues, croaker, Spanish mackerel and whiting at the pier in Cherry Grove; Grand Strand area: Good offshore for especially large dolphin with a few billfish and blackfin tuna also being boated. Blues and Spanish mackerel at piers on jigged gold hooks. Scattered pompano, sheepshead, spots, whiting and a few trout at piers. Sheepshead at the Georgetown and Murrells Inlet jetties; Charleston area: Cobia around the artificial reefs and buoys on live eels. Good for blues and Spanish mackerel inshore. Spottails and trout in the backwaters during early morning.

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