Saltwater inshore fishing along the Carolinas coast appears to have emerged from winter hibernation.
Reports of good action flowed in this week, especially from Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks, where dozens of trophy-sized red drum in the 50-inch range have been caught and released in Pamlico Sound the past few days.
Offshore activity depends on wind and sea conditions. When the sea isn’t rough, trolling parties are limiting on blackfin tuna to 35 pounds out of Hatteras Village.
Lake Norman: Very good for spotted bass and hybrids. The spots are spawning and hitting soft plastic lures sight-casted to the beds. The hybrids are taking live baits best. Catfish in the creeks 5-20 feet deep on cut baits.
Lake Wylie: Very good to excellent for catfish 8-10 feet deep in the creeks on cut gizzard shad. Very good for crappie on minnows, with best catches coming at night.
Union County Lakes: Excellent at Lake Lee for largemouth bass, including several lunkers up to 8 3/4 pounds on artificial worms and jigs. Good for crappie and largemouth at Cane Creek Park and Lake Monroe. Fair at Lake Twitty.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River Lakes: Good for crappie the length of the chain – High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Best at the latter three. Very good for American shad in the tailrace at Blewett Falls as the fish make the annual spawning run up the Pee Dee from the sea. They are striking Sabiki rigs and shad darts.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Good at all three reservoirs on the upper Catawba River, mainly on minnows. James also is yielding walleye on crawlers. Largemouth at Rhodhiss and Hickory.
Fontana Lake: Excellent for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, with limit catches abounding. They’re hitting crankbaits and soft plastics cast to the shoreline.
Lake Wateree: “As good as it gets” for largemouth bass, according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, on jigs, soft plastic lures and spinnerbaits cast to the shallows. The spring crappie bite also appears at a peak, with fish hitting around bridges, brush and piers.
Lake Murray: Good for striped bass from The Gap to the dam, mostly on planer boards with live baits or lures trailing. Stripers also are being caught from surface-feeding schools in open water and on cut baits fished on the points. Very good for crappie 5-10 feet deep in the Little River arm.
Santee Cooper Lakes: Good for stripers at the mouths of creeks, at the mouth of the Diversion Canal and in the Santee and Wateree Rivers. Good for bream and crappie around brush.
Lake Hartwell: Good for stripers and hybrids on free-lined live baits worked around the points. Largemouth are hitting a variety of lures in the same spots. Catfish up to the 30-pound range 10-20 feet deep in the creeks on cut herring.
Lake Keowee: Very good for largemouth and spotted bass around points on swim baits.
Lake Jocassee: Very good for spotted bass, striking soft plastic lures cast to points.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Not much action yet; Oregon Inlet: Blackfin and yellowfin tuna offshore when sea conditions are favorable. Puppy drum in the surf; Hatteras Island: Excellent offshore for blackfin tuna when sea conditions are decent. Big red drum in the surf at Cape Point near Buxton, but officials closed the site on Cape Hatteras National Seashore to vehicle traffic this week because of nesting American oyster catcher sea birds. Surfcasters may still walk to the point. Blues, puppy drum, speckled trout and whiting in the surf at Avon; Ocrakcoke Island: Red drum to 48 inches in the surf, along with blues and whiting; Morehead City area: Good offshore for blackfin tuna and wahoo when sea conditions are favorable. Blues at the artificial reefs. Atlantic bonito and false albacore on the east side of Cape Lookout.
Southeastern N.C. Coast: Blackfin tuna and wahoo offshore in good weather. Fair for reds in the backwaters. Pier anglers are starting to catch blues and whiting, along with sheepshead.
S.C. Coast: Little River area: Blues in the 1 1/2-pound class and croaker; Grand Strand area: Big red drum at the Murrells Inlet jetties, where blues also are being caught. Whiting to 15 inches at piers and in the surf; Blackfin tuna offshore when sea conditions are decent; Charleston area: Reds up to 32 inches in the backwaters. Blackfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo offshore, and black seabass and beeliners for bottom-fishing parties; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Reds in the backwaters during high tide on Gulp! shrimp-like lures and mud minnows.