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Fishing Forecast

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Carolinas fishing forecast: Head for Hatteras for best action

By Tom Higgins
Correspondent
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- Photo courtesy of Mike Sherrill
Sawyer Sherrill, 8, of Mooresville is delighted with an 18-inch, bragging size crappie he caught at Lake Norman. A rising third grader at Rocky River Elementary School, Sawyer was fishing last by boat Friday with his grandfather Mike Sherrill and uncle Justin Sherrill, both of Mooresville.

The waters near and well offshore of Hatteras Village on the Outer Banks are the places to go fishing in the Carolinas.

“If it swims, we’re catching it,” a veteran employee at a local bait, tackle and charter service gushed this week.

The catch includes flounder and red drum in Pamlico Sound, and blues, flounder, gray trout, puppy drum, Spanish mackerel and speckled trout in the surf. Billfish, dolphin (mahi-mahi), wahoo and yellowfin tuna are biting offshore. The billfish action is especially outstanding for sailfish and white marlin.

Lake Norman : Good for crappie on minnows worked around sunken brush 25-30 feet deep, with several limit catches of 20 per day reported. Some very large crappie in the 21/2-pound range have been caught. Fair for largemouth and spotted bass during very early morning on floating artificial worms, flukes and topwater lures cast to shaded shoreline areas. Good for catfish on cut baits, especially the heads of bream and gizzard shad, fished 10-30 feet deep off shaded shoreline.

Lake Wylie: Fair to good for largemouth bass around deep main lake points and humps on football jigs, large artificial worms, diving crankbaits and spoons. Fair to good for bream on crickets, earthworms. Catfish on drift-fished cut shad and strips of white perch. Good for white perch around humps 20 feet deep, mainly on minnows.

Mountain Island Lake : Good for bream just off the shoreline. Fair to good for crappie around deep cover on minnows.

Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Bream on crawlers and crickets. Catfish on crawlers, chicken livers, frozen baits.

Union County lakes: Good for bream at all reservoirs – Cane Creek Park, Lee, Monroe and Twitty. Activity has slowed for largemouth bass.

Yadkin-Pee Dee River lakes: Good for bream the length of the system from High Rock to Blewett Falls. Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls are producing especially well. Large catfish in the Pee Dee below the dam at Blewett Falls.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory : Good at James for crappie and walleye at night on minnows and crawlers, respectively. Fair for a mix of bream, crappie and largemouth bass at Rhodhiss and Hickory.

Fontana Lake : Very good for trout with two methods of fishing working well. Best numbers are being taken on crawlers fished 35-40 feet deep at night near the marina at Fontana Village Resort. Bigger trout are being boated by anglers trolling spoons at the same depths near the dam. Generally slow for other species, but scattered largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass at dawn on surface lures cast to the shoreline.

Lake Wateree : Good for crappie the length of the lake as schools gather near sunken brush 12-18 feet down. Minnows and Fish Stalker jigs in pearl, Ugly Green and Robin egg colors are equally effective.

Lake Thurmond: Good to very good for stripers, hybrids in the 5-pound range on down-lined live herring worked 30 feet deep off points in the lower 5 miles of the lake. Cut bait is producing some larger stripers down 20 feet off shoals. Crappie in small coves and short creeks near the main channel, 5-15 feet deep around brush. Catfish on cut herring, dip baits and shrimp.

Lake Murray: Very good for bream, with bluegill and shellcracker hitting earthworms just off the shoreline. Good for stripers on cut herring 10-20 feet deep on the bottom off points. Good for catfish on crawlers, cut herring. Good for crappie suspended around 15 feet deep over cover 20-25 feet down. Fair for largemouth during early morning on topwater lures cast to points.

Santee Cooper lakes : Good for bream along the banks on crickets, earthworms. A few sizable largemouth bass have been caught in recent days on artificial frogs, but hits are sporadic. Largemouth are gorging on mayflies, but finding a hatch has become difficult. Good for catfish at night on crawlers and cut shad fished 10-15 feet deep. Fair for crappie 15-20 feet deep around brush.

Lake Hartwell : Very good for stripers and hybrids, leaving the rivers and gathering on points and humps 35-40 feet deep and also at the mouths of major creeks. They are taking a variety of traditional baits. Channel and flathead catfish spawning around the rip-rap near bridges and taking small cut baits and crawlers.

Lake Keowee: Good for bream along the shoreline. Bedding largemouth and spotted bass on Chug Bug topwater lures and similar plugs.

Lake Jocassee : Good for trout around the intakes in early morning on Sutton 31 and 44 spoons fished 30-60 feet deep. Largemouth, smallmouth on the points, where they are taking artificial worms and crankbaits.

Outer Banks : Nags Head area: Good for black drum, blues, Spanish mackerel, spots and whiting in the surf from Corolla southward. The same species are showing at area piers; Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for limits of very large yellowfin tuna, along with bigeye tuna to 170 pounds, lots of billfish and big dolphin. Plentiful blues and Spanish mackerel inshore on spoons and other metal lures; Hatteras Island: Fair in the surf from Rodanthe to Frisco for small blues, croaker, small flounder, pompano and spots. Black drum in the surf at Frisco. Spanish mackerel, small flounder, blues, pompano and whiting in the surf near Hatteras Village. Good for flounder and reds in the sound near Hatteras Village. Ocracoke Island: Cobia and reds are hitting fairly well; Morehead City area: Cobia, Spanish mackerel just off the beach. Amberjack, dolphin around the near-shore artificial reefs. Blackfin tuna, blue marlin, dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin offshore. Blues to almost 10 pounds, cobia, pompano, Spanish mackerel and whiting at piers.

Southeast Coast : Good bottom fishing offshore for black seabass, grouper, triggerfish and vermillion snapper. Amberjack, cobia and dolphin further offshore. Very good offshore for king mackerel at spots known as the Shark Hole and The 90s. Kings also are being boated just off the beaches at Ocean Isle. Flounder, spadefish at the near-shore artificial reefs. Red drum, flounder from Snow’s Cut near Carolina Beach to the mouth of the Cape Fear River at Southport on traditional baits such as shrimp and mud minnows. Flounder, speckled trout at piers, along with Spanish mackerel, hitting at dawn and dusk. Croaker, spots, whiting at night at piers.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Scattered spot, whiting and a few small sharks at the pier. Grand Strand area: Good for flounder in Murrells Inlet and at the nearby jetties on mud minnows. Black drum and sheepshead at the jetties. Reds in Winyah Bay at Georgetown around the bridges on cut mullet and mud minnows. Fair for blues, pompano, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and spots at piers. Good offshore for dolphin, with king mackerel gradually starting to show; Charleston area: Good for speckled trout on mud minnows bumped along the bottom under either popping corks or jig heads. Fair for reds, or spottails, around backwater docks and at creek mouths where there are oyster rakes. Fair for flounder, whiting and small sharks at Folly Beach Pier; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Good offshore around the wreck of the Betsy Ross for cobia. Improving for reds in the backwater’s small creeks around oyster beds on mud minnows under a rattling cork.

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