Late summer almost always brings strong action for white marlin offshore of Oregon Inlet. Usually, the show of leaping, line-testing billfish begins in mid-August.
However, happily for anglers, the marlin are making an early appearance this year off the Outer Banks.
Anglers trolling with the sportfishing fleet based at Oregon Inlet boated and released 34 of the sporty white marlin on Monday. Boats chartered out of Pirates Cove Marina at Manteo accounted for 19.
How long will the run last? Normally, big numbers of the billfish are caught almost daily well into September when sea conditions are favorable.
Meanwhile, with a few exceptions, the doldrums of summer generally have set in at the lakes, with bream and catfish offering the best prospects.
Lake Norman : Good for spotted bass from dawn until around 10 a.m. on popping plugs and buzz baits cast to long, shallow points. The bass also are striking soft plastic lures worked in the same waters and also around piers. White perch continue to hit well, taking small cut baits and jigging spoons fished 20-40 feet deep.
Lake Wylie: Good for channel catfish on flats 10-20 feet deep on cut baits. Also good for flatheads around brush on live baits. Fair for largemouth bass on humps and around bridge pilings on DD-22 lures, football jigs and large artificial worms.
Mountain Island Lake : Continuing fair for bream and catfish.
Rankin Lake, Gastonia: Bream on crawlers and crickets.
Union County Lakes: Bream and catfish at Cane Creek Park, Lakes Lee, Monroe and Twitty.
Yadkin-Pee Dee River Lakes: Good for white perch, locally known as Waccamaws, at Badin and Tillery on Ice Flies cast to surface-feeding schools. Bream and catfish at all lakes, from High Rock downstream through Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Blue catfish in the Pee Dee River below Blewett Falls Dam.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory : Night fishing is producing some crappie and walleye at James. The crappie are taking minnows and the walleye are hitting crawlers. A few smallmouth bass have been caught on shiners at James. Mostly bream and catfish at Rhodhiss and Hickory.
Fontana Lake : Good for trout at night on crawlers fished 35 feet deep under lights right against the concrete of the dam. Also, trout on spoons and Lucky Craft plugs trolled in the main channel between Point 4 and the dam. A 9-pound brown trout was caught over the weekend by a trolling fisherman and weighed in at Fontana Village’s marina. A few walleye also are being taken via trolling.
Lake Wateree : Very good for catfish around flats on cut white perch. Fair to good for largemouth, with the best bass around deep points and humps, striking crankbaits and large artificial worms. Fair for crappie in deep brush.
Lake Thurmond: Fair to good for stripers and hybrids on live baits fished on the bottom 50-70 feet deep.
Lake Monticello: Good for large blue catfish, mainly hitting cut baits along ledges.
Lake Murray: Very good for striped bass at the reservoir’s lower end in 40-100 feet of water on free-lined live baits. Stripers weighing up to 30 pounds have been reported. Continuing good for bream along the shoreline on crickets, earthworms.
Santee Cooper Lakes : Fair to good for crappie around brush 10-15 feet deep. Bedding bream along the shoreline.
Lake Hartwell : Good for stripers and hybrids, suspended 40-60 feet down over flooded timber that is 100 feet deep, taking live baits and spoons. The fish also are being found along the channel edges. Fair to good for catfish.
Lake Keowee: Generally slow.
Lake Jocassee : Good for trout on spoons trolled 35-60 feet deep.
Outer Banks : Nags Head area: Scattered bottom-feeding species such as spots and whiting in the surf and at piers. Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for billfish, especially white marlin, along with bigeye tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Very good near shore for Spanish mackerel. Good in the sounds for reds, trout and some flounder. Hatteras Island: Excellent offshore for billfish, dolphin and wahoo, with a few blackfin tuna also showing in the catch. Very good for croaker and whiting in the surf at Ramps 43, 44 and 55 crossing the dunes. Scattered blues, croaker, Spanish mackerel, spots and whiting in the surf elsewhere on the island. Very good for reds in Pamlico Sound. Ocracoke Island: Fair for surf species, including puppy drum and flounder. Morehead City area: Reds in the 25-35-inch range in the marshes on both live baits and lures. Good offshore for billfish and dolphin when sea conditions are favorable. Scattered blues, pompano, speckled trout and whiting at piers.
Southeast coast : Very good in the lower Cape Fear River for flounder weighing up to 9 1/2 pounds. Good for flounder in the backwaters elsewhere, especially near Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle. Very good offshore for bottom species. Good for king mackerel 10-15 miles offshore and at the artificial reefs. Typical summertime activity at the piers, an exception being large king mackerel on occasion.
S.C. coast: Little River area: Scattered flounder, spot, whiting. Grand Strand area: Good offshore for bottom species, including red snapper. Cobia and dolphin for trolling parties. Good for Spanish mackerel, “running the beaches.” Good for reds in the backwaters and at the Georgetown and Murrells Inlet jetties on live baits. Scattered blues, whiting and a surprising number of spots at piers. Charleston area: Very good offshore for billfish over water 350-750 feet deep. Great for trout, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, during falling tides on live baits and MR-14 and Z-Man Paddletail lures. Good for reds in the backwaters for anglers sight-casting to fish that are “tailing” in the shallows while feeding. Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Very good for lady fish in the backwaters on gold spoons and popping plugs. Good for reds in the marshes on live baits. Tarpon are feeding around the Broad River bridge pilings.
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