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Fishing Forecast: Hatteras having ‘best blue marlin bite in years’

Taylor (left) and Bratten McMullan now dig spade fish. The two, 10 and 5 respectively, were en route offshore fishing this week with their dad, Brant, when they came across a school of spades. They decided to fish for them instead. After netting jellyfish to cut for bait, the party caught these and several others of the hard-fighting, tasty species. Brant is a charter boat skipper and his family operates Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
Taylor (left) and Bratten McMullan now dig spade fish. The two, 10 and 5 respectively, were en route offshore fishing this week with their dad, Brant, when they came across a school of spades. They decided to fish for them instead. After netting jellyfish to cut for bait, the party caught these and several others of the hard-fighting, tasty species. Brant is a charter boat skipper and his family operates Ocean Isle Fishing Center. Photo courtesy Brant McMullan

What is being called “the best blue marlin bite in years” off Hatteras and continuing good action at Lakes Norman and Murray highlight Carolinas fishing this week.

Dozens of the big billfish have been caught and mostly released the past few days offshore of Hatteras Village, with some trolling parties experiencing multiple hookups.

Spotted bass are on a tear at Norman, where limit catches are being made rather readily.

Striped bass are the main fare at South Carolina’s Lake Murray, with stripers in the 30-pound range boated.

Lake Norman: Very good to excellent for spotted bass, which appear to be in the midst of a population explosion. They’re hitting minnows and a variety of lures cast to the shoreline in early morning, then moving to humps around 20 feet deep as the sun rises to take jigging spoons and shiners. Hybrids, largemouth and white perch are mixed in with the spots. Good for catfish on crawlers, cut baits worked 5-20 feet deep. Fair for crappie around brush 25 feet down.

Lake Wylie: Very good for blue catfish on the shallow flats, especially in locations where there is a bit of current. The best bait by far is cut shad. Fair to good for crappie around cover 25 feet deep, mainly on minnows.

Mountain Island Lake: Continuing good to excellent for bream along the shoreline.

Union County Lakes: Mainly bream and catfish at all four – Cane Creek Park, Lee, Monroe and Twitty.

Yadkin/Pee Dee River Lakes: Best fishing is for bream, with crickets, earthworms, small Beetlespin lures and popping bugs working at the chain’s four lower impoundments – High Rock, Tuckertown, Tillery and Blewett Falls. A draw-down of 6 feet is scheduled to begin Tuesday at the latter to facilitate work near the dam.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Walleye on crawlers around clay points at James, with the best catches coming at night. Fair to good for bream and bass at all three. Fair for crappie.

Rankin Lake: Continuing good for bream, bass and catfish at the Gastonia municipal reservoir.

Hampton Lake, Yadkin County: Mainly bream, along with a fairly good largemouth bite.

Fontana Lake: Good for smallmouth and spotted bass along the main channel shoreline on shiners, with a few largemouth mixed in. At dawn and dusk the bass are striking floating artificial worms and other topwaters lures.

Lake Wateree: Good for largemouth during early morning around points, grassbeds and docks on artificial worms.

Lake Murray: Very good to excellent for striped bass to 30 pounds from The Gap to the dam. They’re hitting free-lined live baits best.

Santee Cooper Lakes: Good for crappie to 2 pounds on minnows worked around cover 10-15 feet deep. Also good along the banks for bedding bream.

Lake Hartwell: Very good for stripers and hybrids, which have moved from the rivers to the main lake points. They’re taking free-lined live baits over 20-40 feet of water.

Lake Keowee: Good for largemouth and spotted bass during early morning on topwater lures cast to shallow flats and points. As the day progresses they moving deeper to about 25 feet and hitting drop-shot rigs.

Lake Jocassee: Good for both largemouth and smallmouth bass around shoreline cover on soft plastic lures.

Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Blues in the surf, with good catches of black drum reported at Corolla. Blues and whiting at piers; Oregon Inlet: Limits of dolphin, bigeye tuna to 207 pounds and yellowfin tuna offshore. Blues, croaker, flounder, gray trout and speckled trout inshore; Hatteras Island: Excellent offshore of Hatteras Village for blue marlin and inshore for cobia to 98 pounds. Blackfin tuna and dolphin also are figuring prominently in the offshore catch. Big red drum continue to be boated and released in Pamlico Sound. Blues, pompano and whiting are biting in the surf; Ocracoke Island: Good for big red drum and puppy drum in the surf, along with blues, whiting and scattered flounder. Cobia in the channel at Ocracoke Inlet. Gray trout in the sound; Morehead City area: Blues, cobia and Spanish mackerel along the beaches and near the inlet. Dolphin, wahoo and yellowfin tuna offshore. Continuing good for big red drum drum in the marshes. Blues, Spanish mackerel and whiting at piers.

Southeastern N.C. Coast: Very good for large dolphin offshore, along with wahoo. Sailfish are starting to show, too. Spanish mackerel in schools closer to shore. Plentiful spadefish around the artificial reefs and wrecks on cubes of jellyfish. Blues, croaker, a few cobia and small flounder at piers, with speckled trout hitting well during early morning from dawn until about 10 a.m.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Blues, croaker, small flounder and whiting in the surf and at the pier; Grand Strand area: Good to excellent offshore for dolphin and wahoo. Blackfin tuna also are still figuring in the catch. Continuing good for flounder in the creeks, with black drum and reds also hitting fairly well. Black drum blues, Spanish mackerel and whiting at the piers. Good for sheepshead at the Murrells Inlet and Georgetown jetties; Charleston area: Large “bull” red drum at The Grillage on live menhaden, blue crabs and cut mullet. Flounder in the inlets on mud minnows. Speckled trout around backwater shell rakes on live shrimp; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Reds in the creeks on mud minnows.

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