This is an exciting time to saltwater fly-fish in one
of America's most beautiful eco systems, and second
only to Chesapeake Bay. The waters of Pamlico Sound
and the Neuse River Estuary are teeming with all types
of wildlife, from bears to tarpon, redfish and bonefish.
Truly North Carolina could boost the World's largest of
many predator game fish. So, why the big secret? North
Carolinians are very hush when it comes to talking about
their fishery. For those anglers who have come here year
after year, they know it is world class.
For many centuries these waters have been home to abundant
species of both fresh and saltwater fish, aquatic animals
and birds, sea grasses, and island hammocks of pine, crape
myrtle, oak, and pecan. The area has seen unprecedented
growth in the past 50 years. Changing and diversifying
land use practices that include forestry, agriculture,
industry, wetlands and large urban areas have increased
the challenge of preserving vast watershed and habitat
areas. The State of North Carolina recognized their
responsibilities and set into motion policies that will
protect all species for many years to come.
While most species are caught year round, special seasons
hold surprises for the angler.
This is a time of seasonal change and the deep creeks
are still holding spotted sea trout. Puppy Drum (Florida's
version of redfish) are on the backside of Core Bank
flats and the estuaries leading there. Some flounder
and many stripers prevail everywhere. These situations
call for intermediate and sinking lines and usually a
good supply of eel flies, deep clousers and spinner-type
Spring is upon us. In North Carolina, daytime temperatures
have already risen to the mid to high 50s. Hichory and
American Shad are spawning in the upper Neuse and Trent
Rivers (you don't have to go to Roanoke Rapids for this
action). Stripers are thick in the river. You'll see
fish typically in the 10 to 30 pound range. Many bait
fish species are starting to move from the creeks onto
the flats, which will stir the winter trout and redfish.
There is a lot of activity and plenty of action.
The rich waters flowing from the creeks will be warm enough
for excellent catches of spotted sea trout (4-8 pounds),
flounder, and puppy drum (4-10 pounds). There are also
surprises that many anglers aren't prepared for: Giant
Redfish, called Red Drum here. And, Tarpon in the 100
pound-class. Last year's record was 175 pounds. Know
that there is always a tarpon rod in my boat. Don't be
surprised to see huge bluefish 20 pounds or more.
You don't have to go to Florida to find world record
tarpon. We have one of the best fisheries for Tarpon.
They winter over in our estuaries. I'm serious. My
friend Gerry has a 75-pound tarpon in a tank he raised
from a yearling. Then we have Black Drum (average 30
to 60 pounds), Bluefish (tailing in 2' of water). This
might be the first time that you sight fished for blue
fish and giant drum.
These are the hottest months to fish. The fish have been
gorging themselves for 6 months and have grown to enormous
size. Florida cannot hold a candle to the size of redfish
(red drum 40 to 60 pounds), black drum, bonefish (yup, you
heard me), bluefish, and Spanish macherel. All these fish
are oversized - catch and release is mandatory.
While the waters start to cool with the fall season in gear,
many of the large fish will migrate to their wintering holes.
Trout are in abundance as are puppy drum and stripers. As
glass minnows make their migration to the inlets, false
albacore (also known as Little Tunny or Fat Alberts) and
big stripers will take over the angling scene. These fish
will average 5 to 15 pounds and put on a worldly fight.
Don't be a stranger. We have great places to stay and the
fishing is about as isolated as Alaska, but warmer. Our
seasons hold a surprise for every fly angler whether it is
pure fishing or learning about our marvelous environment.
Just like in Florida, you'll see brown pelicans and sight
fish for bonefish on our flats. North Carolina has a lot
of hidden treasures just waiting for you to explore.
Please don't teach your trash to swim.
~ Doug Sinclair
Capt. Doug Sinclair has relocated from New Smyrna Beach, Florida to
Grantsboro, NC. He specializes in fly-fishing and light tackle charters.
Doug charters the Coastal Carolina area of New Bern or Oriental.
Catch him on the web at
www.flyfishacademy.net or call him at (252) 745-3500.
Doug is also a Sponsor here on FAOL.