The water around Ocracoke offers many angling choices. In addition to casual surf fishing while the family is playing on the beach, there are numerous opportunities for the small boater and serious surf caster. While some of the same techniques work in either case, some specialized rigs and baits can increase your luck. Pompano are an extremely great tasting fish that are great fun on light tackle. They can be caught both on the beach and on near shore bars, as they are feeding on sand fleas. Shrimp and sand fleas are the best baits, and most fishermen use a light two hook pompano rig. Others prefer to fish for them with light egg sinkers and a Carolina rig. Either way, these fish are great fun and can be abundant in the July surf.
Flounder, one of the most prized of all fish for eating because of its light sweet flavor and few bones, can be caught from the shore or boat. However, this year 2023, the flounder season doesn’t have an open season yet for those wishing to keep their fish. Flounder like sandy bottoms near deep water. They rest on the bottom, partially buried and wait for prey to swim by them during the day. The best bait to use are strips of squid or live minnows. From the shore use a flounder rig such as a Fluke Killer with a piece of squid attached and slowly reel it in by fits and starts to stimulate fleeing prey. From a boat, use ball jigs, squid strips and minnows rigged with up to a 3 ounce weight to reach the bottom and allow the boat to drift. The areas near and around Wallace Channel have produced nice flounder. Speckle trout is another very delicate light fish excellent for table fare. These fish can be found in shallow water around grass beds and oyster beds that hold small crabs, minnows, and shrimp. Speckle trout are attracted to artificial lures such as Mirrolures 808 and 750, white, chartreuse or new penny colored Gulp grubs, and Calcutta flash foils. Use a slow retrieve, twitching the bait in towards the shore. From a boat, jig on the bottom in shallow water near grass beds. There may still be some Gray trout in the area in July, but they like deeper water as compared to the Speckled trout. Use buck tail rigs such as Grandpa Nate rigs or Speck rigs tipped with shrimp or squid.
To look for these tasty fish, try Wallace Channel or the area around the Artesian Well from a boat. Spanish mackerel, another prized table fish, tend to form schools which can be found in the early morning or early evening at the inlets of the island. The best lures for these fish are Stingsilvers, Marias, or glass minnows in pink or silver colors and retrieved by fits and starts from the island’s points. If fishing from a boat, try trolling using Clarkspoons or Drones in size 0 or 1 in Blair Channel or in the area where Blair runs into the inlet.
Red drum, which can grow to an impressive 50 plus inches, are another prized game fish. This is a regulated fish in North Carolina due to the depletion of its breeding stock. One fish 18” to 27” per angler per day can be kept, all others must be returned to the water. The best baits for these fish are fresh mullet or menhaden on a standard drum rig stationary on the bottom from a boat or shore. Another effective bait is a large bucktail jigged on the bottom from a boat. For the smaller puppy drum, a gold Hopkins and Gulp grubs are all that is needed when fishing near grass beds from either the shore or boat.
Offshore Ocracoke, July offers anglers the chance to catch some tasty fish. Dolphin, blackfin tuna, and some billfish are found along the Gulf Stream. Bottom fishing wrecks produces triggers and some grouper.
Ocracoke offers both the surf fishermen and boaters many opportunities to spend a nice day near or on the water looking for a tasty dinner and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family.
See recent catches and read the current fishing reports at Tradewinds Tackle on Facebook or on our home page. For more information on what to expect fishing Ocracoke year round see our fishing page here.