Now is a good time for Carolinas anglers who have thought about taking the challenge of trying to boat a tarpon to do so.
Reports indicate that tarpon, known as “Silver Kings” for their strength and fight, are present in good numbers from Bald Head Island near Southport to Beaufort, S.C.
The best concentration appears to be in the Charleston area near the harbor jetties and in Bulls Bay.
Baits of choice are large, live mullet and big, live crabs.
Freshwater fishing activity across the two states generally rates only fair.
Lake Norman: Fair to good for largemouth and spotted bass from dawn until about 8 a.m. on buzz baits, popping plugs and “walking” lures such as the Zara Spook cast right against the shoreline. Fishing is best when a breeze is rippling the surface. Spotted bass also are being caught at night on shiners worked around humps 30 feet deep. Catfish to 12 pounds 50-60 feet down along the river channel on cut baits. White perch 20-25 feet deep from Marker 5 to the dam on minnows and Sabiki rigs.
Lake Wylie: Bream are hitting crickets, earthworms and small Beetlespin lures as a shoreline bedding period continues under a waning moon. Fair for catfish on cut baits and crawlers. Some crappie at night on minnows fished under lights.
Mountain Island Lake: Mainly bream and catfish.
Union County lakes: Slow to fair for bream and catfish at at all four – Cane Creek Park, Lee, Monroe and Twitty.
Yadkin/Pee Dee River lakes: Good for crappie at High Rock on minnows worked around deep cover. White perch, locally called Waccamaws, continue to feed in surfacing schools at Badin and Tillery and are hitting Ice Jigs best. Mainly bream and catfish at the others – Tuckertown and Blewett Falls.
Lakes James, Rhodhiss, Hickory: Fair for stripers on shad and shiners at the U.S. 321 bridge at Hickory. Bream and catfish at Rhodhiss. Bream, catfish and fair numbers of smallmouth bass at James.
Rankin Lake: Fair at the Gastonia municipal reservoir for bream and catfish.
Hampton Lake, Yadkin County: Fair for bream and catfish.
Fontana Lake: Fair to good for smallmouth and spotted bass during moonlit nights on Lucky Craft topwater lures and Zoom 3-inch artificial worms cast to the shoreline. On windy afternoons when waves create discolored shoreline waters the smallmouth are striking crankbaits. Fair for trout at night against the dam on shiners.
Lake Wateree: Fair to good for largemouth on jigs and artificial worms worked around ledges, deep humps and points.
Lake Murray: Generally slow, but a few crappie in uplake areas.
Lake Thurmond: Slow.
Santee Cooper lakes: Slow in lakes Marion and Moultrie proper, but fair for largemouth in the Cooper and Santee rivers.
Lake Hartwell: Fair for largemouth and spotted bass on artificial frogs and other soft plastic lures cast around bream beds.
Lake Keowee: Slow.
Lake Jocassee: Slow to fair during early morning on topwater lures cast to the shoreline of points, then backing off 20-30 feet deeper in the same areas on artificial worms.
Outer Banks: Nags Head area: Whiting in the 11/2-pound range in the surf. Fair for blues, pompano and Spanish mackerel at piers. Oregon Inlet: Excellent offshore for limits of dolphin, or mahi mahi, along with blackfin tuna, wahoo and yellowfin. Blues, cobia and Spanish are being caught nearer shore. Hatteras Island: Excellent for wahoo offshore, with blackfin tuna, a few billfish and dolphin also being boated. Big red drum in Pamlico Sound near Hatteras Village. Blues, croaker, small flounder, pompano sheepshead, Spanish mackerel and whiting continue to be caught in the surf at various locations from Salvo to Hatteras Inlet. Some days just before sunset Spanish are schooling spectacularly at Cape Point near Buxton and hitting metal lures. Ocracoke Island: Fair in the surf for blues, pompano, whiting and a few flounder. Dolphin and wahoo offshore. Morehead City area: Excellent offshore for wahoo, with scattered blackfin tuna and dolphin also boated. King mackerel on the east side of the Cape Lookout shoals. Big reds in Pamlico Sound near Cedar Island and Oriental. Black drum, flounder and Spanish mackerel at piers.
Southeastern N.C. Coast: Very good offshore for wahoo in the 50-pound range, with several limit catches reported. King mackerel are showing 10-20 miles out. Fine bottom fishing 50-60 miles offshore. The artificial reefs are yielding a few flounder and gray trout. Flounder and reds in the lower Cape Fear River near Southport and in the backwaters of lower Brunswick County. Fair for blues, flounder, pompano, Spanish mackerel and trout at piers during early morning..
S.C. Coast: Little River area: Croaker, pompano and whiting and a few spots. Grand Strand area: Good offshore for wahoo among the few parties heading out. King mackerel at the 3-Mile artificial reef. Croaker, pompano, ladyfish and whiting at piers. Big reds, flounder and trout in the marshes of Winyah Bay near Georgetown. Charleston area: Scattered dolphin and wahoo offshore. Tarpon in sloughs between sandbars and along channel drops. Small trout in the backwaters around creek mouths on live shrimp. Beaufort/Hilton Head area: Other than for tarpon, little activity reported.