Other Sports

Fishing Forecast: Billfish, limits of dolphin, more great trolling parties

From Oregon Inlet southward to Charleston, fishing offshore of the Carolinas coast is “on fire” according to numerous reports.

The catch includes billfish, limits of big dolphin, king mackerel and wahoo. Some trolling parties also continue to boat blackfin tuna.

The billfish bite is good news for entrants in two major upcoming tournaments, the Big Rock at Morehead City and a S.C. Governor’s Cup event at Bohicket Marina on John’s Island.

Equally hot in freshwater is the action for bream, bedding along the various shorelines and readily taking a variety of small baits, especially crickets.

“So many people are bream fishing in the big lakes and small ponds right now that there actually is a shortage of crickets,” said Ronnie Norton, whose family owns and operates Catawba Cricket Hatchery in Charlotte. “We are struggling to keep up with the demand.”

Lake Norman: Good for largemouth and spotted bass during early morning on “walking lures” such as the Zara Spook and new Gunfish cast close to bream beds, where the larger predators are feeding. The bass also are hitting soft plastics worked around shallow piers near a drop-off to deeper water. White perch 10-30 feet deep on a variety of baits and small spoons. Catfish lake-wide on cut baits 5-30 feet down while drift-fishing.

Lake Wylie: Good for largemouth during early morning and late afternoon on a variety of soft plastic lures, buzz baits and chatter baits cast to the shoreline. Good for channel catfish around shallow flats on cut shad.

Mountain Island Lake: Excellent for bream along the shoreline on crickets and earthworms.

Union County Lakes: Best bet: Bream at all four impoundments: Cane Creek Park, Lee, Monroe and Twitty.

Yadkin/Pee Dee River Lakes: Bream fishing reigns at the chain’s five lower impoundments – High Rock, Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Continuing fair to good for crappie at Badin. A few American shad are still hitting in the tailrace at Blewett Falls, taking jigs and shad darts.

Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Continuing fair to good at James for walleye on crawlers cast to clay shoreline. Very good for bream at Rhodhiss and Hickory.

Rankin Lake: Mainly bream and some catfish at the Gastonia municipal reservoir.

Hampton Lake, Yadkin County: Plentiful bream.

Fontana Lake: Continuing good for smallmouth and spotted bass, striking Wacky Worm lures cast to main channel points and allowed to sink to about 20 feet deep. Also, there’s a good bass bite at sunup on topwater lures. Good for walleye on crawler/lead head combos cast to shoreline pockets.

Lake Wateree: Fair to good for crappie 15-22 feet down around brush at the mouths of creeks and along the main channel shoreline on both jigs and minnows.

Lake Murray: Continuing fair to good for crappie, 15-25 feet deep around brush and docks on jigs tipped with minnows. Catfish in the backs of creeks and around humps and points on cut herring, shrimp and stink baits.

Lake Thurmond: Good for stripers and hybrids as they feed on spawning herring on the shallow points. Topwater lures, flukes and free-lined live baits are producing. The stripers and hybrids also are taking shad worked 25 feet in the reservoir’s lower section.

Santee Cooper Lakes: Good for largemouth around the base of cypress trees and at the edges of grass beds on crankbaits, artificial worms and lizards. Fair for catfish at the lower end of Lake Marion.

Lake Hartwell: Continuing fair to good for largemouth 15-25 feet deep on flukes and drop-shot rigs. Fair for crappie around brush 10-15 feet deep.

Lake Keowee: Good for largemouth and spotted bass on shoals and points during early morning on surface lures. Then the fish are taking drop-shot rigs 20-25 feet down.

Lake Jocassee: Good for trout on shiners and spoons trolled 20-60 feet deep near the Three Rivers area and the spillway at the dam.

Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Scattered bottom species in the surf and at piers; Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for billfish, dolphin and large yellowfin tuna. Some bigeye tuna also showing in the catch. Cobia and Spanish mackerel inshore; Hatteras Island: Excellent for big red drum and plentiful puppy drum in Pamlico Sound. Very good offshore for dolphin and wahoo, along with some blackfin tuna. Big bluefish in the surf near Ramps 45 and 49 across the dunes. Puppy drum and sheepshead at the jetties near the old lighthouse site. Croaker, pompano, puppy drum, sheepshead and whiting in the surf from Salvo to Hatteras Inlet; Ocracoke Island: Continuing good for big red drum and puppy drum in the surf, along with blues, whiting and scattered flounder; Morehead City area: Very good offshore for billfish, dolphin and wahoo. Cobia and Spanish mackerel closer in. Blues and whiting in the surf. Blues, Spanish mackerel and small flounder at piers.

Southeastern N.C. Coast: Limits of speckled trout during very early morning at piers on live shrimp. Also, king mackerel, large pompano and flounder at piers. Excellent offshore for dolphin and wahoo, along with some king mackerel. Reds, flounder and trout in the backwaters and at jetties.

S.C. Coast: Little River area: Black drum, blues, Spanish Mackerel and a few smallish flounder; Grand Strand area: Excellent offshore for dolphin, wahoo and white marlin. Black drum, black seabass and sheepshead at the Pawleys Island artificial reef. Speckled trout at the 3-Mile Reef on strips of menhaden and mullet, Big reds also are being caught at the 3-Mile Reef. Blues and Spanish mackerel at piers; Charleston area: Excellent for dolphin offshore over 250-450 feet of water. Blackfin tuna and wahoo at the Georgetown Hole and Southwest Banks; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Cobia at the Betsy Ross Reef, in the Broad River and Port Royal Sound. Scattered flounder and whiting in the surf.