Trolling offshore of Oregon Inlet presently appears to be producing the best catches for anglers in the Carolinas.
Parties chartering boats at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center have returned to dock this week with limits of dolphin (mahi mahi) and wahoo. Quite a few sailfish and white marlin have been boated and released.
Top freshwater sites for the declining number of anglers on the water during record heat are Lake Norman for blue catfish and Lake Thurmond for a mix of striped bass and hybrids.
Lake Norman: Plentiful catfish up to 22 pounds, mainly blues on cut baits. White perch on minnows and Sabiki rigs worked around humps 30 feet deep. Fair for crappie at night under lights, gathering around deep brushy cover and bridge pilings.
Lake Wylie: Good for catfish at deep drop-offs and points. Channel catfish still are biting best, but blues also are being caught along with a few flatheads. Cut gizzard shad remains the bait of choice except for the flatheads, which prefer live bait such as bream. Crappie at night from around deep brush on minnows.
Mountain Island Lake: Bream along the shoreline on crickets and earthworms. Catfish on crawlers and cut baits.
Union County lakes: Fair for crappie on trolled jigs at Cane Creek Park. Improved for largemouth bass during early morning at Lake Twitty.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River lakes: Good for largemouth at High Rock Lake. It took a catch of five bass weighing almost 20 pounds to win a tournament there last weekend. Fair for crappie, mainly at night, at the others: Tuckertown, Badin, Tillery and Blewett Falls. Fair to good for catfish just below the tailrace at Blewett Falls.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Fair for walleye at James on crawlers worked along clay shoreline. Fair to good for bream and catfish at Hickory and Rhodhiss, which also are yielding some crappie from around deep cover.
Rankin Lake: Fair for bream and catfish at the Gastonia municipal reservoir.
Hampton Lake, Yadkin County: Fair to good for all four main species: largemouth, crappie, bream and catfish, especially the latter two.
Fontana Lake: Fair for trout at night on Ice Jigs worked 30-40 feet deep against the concrete of the dam. Also, a few trout are being boated during the day by anglers trolling Sutton spoons near the dam. A mix of largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass feeding in schools on the surface at dawn and dusk in the Tuckaseegee Prong at Point 9, striking Pop R and Sammy lures best.
Lake Murray: Stripers near the dam on free-lined live baits during early morning. The rest of the day most anglers are switching to down lines and fishing deeper.
Lake Thurmond: Very good for limits of stripers in the 10-pound range and hybrids weighing up to 6 pounds on live baits, mainly herring, fished 30 feet deep.
Santee Cooper lakes: Fair to good for crappie and bream. The crappie are around brushy cover 15-20 feet deep, the bream just off the shoreline.
Lake Hartwell: Good for stripers and hybrids on live herring fished 30-40 feet down off major points. Lots of channel catfish are taking a variety of baits all over the lake.
Lake Keowee: Largemouth and spotted bass for about an hour after dawn on surface lures cast to points.
Lake Jocassee: Scattered trout on minnows and spoons worked 25-40 feet deep around the intakes and in the rivers.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Scattered puppy drum in the surf. Croaker and spots in Roanoke Sound for anglers in boats; Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for limits of dolphin, very large yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Blue and white marlin are being boated and mostly released. Excellent action inshore for plentiful blues and Spanish mackerel. Spot and whiting in the surf on the north side of the inlet; Hatteras Island: Good offshore of Hatteras Village for billfish, especially white marlin. Blackfin tuna, dolphin and wahoo also are being boated. Nearer shore the catch includes gray trout, spadefish and Spanish mackerel. Good to very good for red drum in Pamlico Sound. Spanish mackerel in surfacing schools in the hour or so before nightfall at ramps 43 and 45 across the dunes. A mix of blues, croaker, Spanish mackerel and spots in the surf from Salvo through Avon, Buxton and Frisco to Hatteras Inlet; Ocracoke Island: A fair variety of black drum, blues, flounder, gray trout, red drum, sheepshead and Spanish mackerel in the surf. Sailfish and wahoo offshore; Morehead City area: Very good for dolphin, which have moved to within 10 miles of the shore. Billfish and wahoo continue to hit well. Red drum and speckled trout in the backwaters of Core Creek, Newport River and North River. Scattered large Spanish mackerel at piers.
Southeastern N.C. Coast: Excellent 10-15 miles offshore for king mackerel, with dolphin and sailfish also showing in the catch. Good for speckled trout during early morning at piers, which also are yielding blues, Spanish mackerel, red drum and occasional flounder of keeper size. Flounder in the Cape Fear River near Southport and in the creeks at Bald Head Island. Reds in the backwaters in the Ocean Isle area.
S.C. Coast: Little River area: Fair for blues and Spanish mackerel; Grand Strand area: Good to excellent offshore for dolphin and wahoo, with some billfish boated. Flounder on mud minnows in Murrells Inlet. Reds, or spottails, in the creeks on small mullet and menhaden. Fair to good for trout at the Surfside Ledges and 3-Mile Reef. Black drum, pompano and Spanish mackerel at piers; Charleston area: Spanish mackerel are in thick schools near the jetties along with some large red drum. Good for flounder along the jetties and rip-rap on mud minnows and Jerk Shad lures worked 3-8 feet deep along the rocks. Reds are being caught under docks in the backwaters on cut mullet. Trout on live shrimp around shell rakes. Good offshore for wahoo and fair for dolphin, sailfish and white marlin; Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Fair for reds on live shrimp in the creeks.