The Shallows and Backwaters
North Carolina is home to some of the most expansive saltwater estuaries in North America. The waters of
Bogue Sound, Core Sound and the Newport and North Rivers have rich spartina grass marshes that are the
spawning and nursery grounds for many species of shallow-water game fish. The The flats and deep cuts
teem with shrimp, mullet and other bait-fish...and often right behind them are Red Drum, Flounder and
Speckled Trout - the three species that make up the NC Inshore Slam.
RED DRUM, the North Carolina State fish, are available year round and provide fantastic
light-tackle action. While you can live-bait for these fish, I like to chase these hard-fighting bull dogs
with artificial baits like jigs, spinnerbaits, spoons - and top-water plugs. Redfish on top-water plugs is
some of the most exciting fishing that one can experience. They will hit a surface plug with tremendous force, often
pushing a huge wake behind the lure before engulfing it while making a splash the size of a manhole cover! It's
not for the faint of heart!
Tailing Red Drum are one of North Carolina's best kept secrets. When the conditions are right, I pole
my shallow-draft Pathfinder Fusion onto the grass flats and we start looking for tails. A sight-fisherman's
dream, the water is extremely shallow - often less than 8" deep. Stalking these fish is an experience of its own-
it's some of the hardest fishing you will ever do.
Dates for Tailing Red Drum are limited - so book in advance!!
FLOUNDER - Beaufort Inlet is also home to one of the best flounder fisheries on the east coast. Beginning in the
spring and peaking in late summer and fall, we find flounder in great concentrations from the backwater creeks,
channels and docks all the way to the nearshore wrecks and reefs. While we often come across them while chasing
drum and trout in the marshes, we can also target them exclusively in the backwaters. Whether it's with
live-bait or artficials, we do it all!
SPECKLED TROUT - Come fall it's trout season. As the days shorten and the winds blow from the north,
the trout begin their fall migration and begin to school up in the creeks and marshes. A true WaterDog
specialty, we chase these fish all October and November using grubs, mirrolures and assorted artificial baits.
The bite starts in the marsh and moves to the ocean as the water cools, and we follow their migration. One of
my favorite fish to target, I pride myself in my ability to put my clients on serious trout. Come peak season,
huge catches are possible - 100 fish days are common and we've had many 300+ trout trips!
2009 was one of the best years of speckled trout and red drum fishing in decades, and with the
giant numbers of small reds and trout, the summer and fall of 2010 should be the best year yet!
Our inshore fishing opportunities are endless! Outside of the backwaters, the inlet and the
many nearshore wrecks, reefs and live-bottom areas are home to a plethora of gamefish species.
We often cruise the tide-lines and rips of Beaufort Inlet to cast for Spanish mackerel, bluefish,
sharks and cobia. Moreover, we are also lucky enough to have several wrecks and live-bottoms only
minutes away from Beaufort inlet. An extremely productive year-long fishery, the wrecks offer opportunities
for big flounder, big Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, sharks, spadefish, Atlantic bonito,
false albacore...the list goes on and on!
In the spring (April and May)we begin the season by chasing the hard-fighting and delicious Atlantic Bonito.
While they only stay for a few weeks, these fish are a very special catch and a true delicacy on the dinner table.
As the water begins to warm, schools of bluefish and spanish mackerel roam the inlet and beaches and other large
gamefish work their way towards shallower waters. The areas around Cape Lookout are home to a great run of early
summer cobia - we both site cast and bait fish for these big beasts. Along with cobia, also in the mix are
big bluefish (10lbs+) and big sharks.
When we aren't off chasing big kings and dolphin (mahi-mahi) in the summer months, we can often be found on
the nearshore wrecks and live-bottoms targeting flounder and trophy-size spanish mackerel (3-8lbs!) on light
tackle! Mid to late summer, these areas stack up with great numbers of flounder and catching 20+ legal flounder in a
day is common! One very popular charter is to target the mackerel on 12lb test while flounder fishing.
As we drop baits for flounder, we'll fly the kites and live-line live-bait for the mackerel and watch these
drag-screamers smash the baits on the surface. In addition to this consistent fishery, other options and
possibilities are endless - who knows what we may see! Schools of tarpon, huge sharks, amberjacks,
bait-ball blitzes...you never know...anything can happen. Some of my greatest memories are not just of the fish
we've landed but are of some of the amazing sights we've seen: Giant basking sharks, leatherback turtles,
humpback whales, mola-molas (ocean sunfish), manta rays, schools of stingrays hundreds of yards across...those
are the memories of a lifetime.
As the days shorten and the nights get cooler, autumn brings about our best fishing of the year. In addition
to the bountiful red drum and speckled trout, the area waters have some of the best king mackerel fishing
on the east coast. The fall is when we catch the giants -30-40lb fish are a common catch and even 50lb fish
are possible. My personal best is a 55lb behemoth that client Richie Nash landed in November, 2004.
Cape Lookout is home to the absolute mecca of
fly-fishing - the autumn false albacore blitz as fly anglers
(and spin anglers) from all over the globe gather at Cape Lookout
for a shot at one of the fastest swimming fish in the ocean.
Drag-melting runs that can peel off hundreds of yards of
line in seconds is the norm with these guys. Don't miss out! In
addition, Cape Lookout is also home to a fantastic year-round
fishery--huge cobia in the spring and summer, big spanish mackerel in the
summer and fall, and excellent fall speckled trout. The shoals also offer
excellent winter striper fishing few local anglers are even aware that
the big stripers are returning in force!
BOOK YOUR FALL FISHING DATES IN ADVANCE!
BIG Nearshore Fish
What most anglers don't realize is that off-shore species are very accessible to smaller boats, and you
don't have to shell out $1300+ for a charter and travel 40+ miles offshore to get into a good mahi-mahi or
king mackerel bite! Within a modest distance from the beach are dozens of wrecks, live-bottom areas and
meandering weedlines that allow anglers to chase mahi-mahi (dolphin), king mackerel, false albacore,
huge sharks, grouper, cobia, amberjacks and even sailfish! My very comfortable and seaworthy Parker center consol
gives us great range allowing us to safely find the fish.
By far the most popular summer charter, we troll and kite fish for large pelagic fish. Imagine big dolphin
(mahi-mahi) hound-dogging out of the water, sailfish billing baits and big smoker kings screaming off
hundreds of yards of line...often times within sight of land! While king mackerel are always present,
our lines are constantly being kocked down by various gamefish species. In 2005 we had a mini-blitz of
sailfish and for three weeks I had encounters with these beautiful fish almost daily (with most of them
winning the battel)...and all within 10 miles of the beach! Every day is different and that
is what adds to the excitement of this fishing - one day it's big schools of mahi-mahi, the next it's king
mackerel and cobia. The realm of possibilities are endless!
Using both live-bait and artificials, we provoke massive strikes on light-tackle...the other
signature piece of my service. While many offshore boats fish using similiar methods - most use very
heavy tackle that does not does not allow for a good fight. I exclusively use 15-20lb test tackle that
provides a great fight and really let's you hear the reel sing! In addition to trolling, kite-fishing
adds an entirely new element to nearshore fishing. As one of the only anglers in North Carolina to use
kites for nearshore fishing, it gives me a competive edge with picky summer fish. Using kites, we dangle
baits on the surface several hundred yards from the boat. The lack of tackle in the water tends to entice
large fish and explosive slashing strikes. This type of charter can also be combined with bottom fishing
for triggerfish, seabass and grouper or nearshore wreck fishing for flounder and spanish mackerel.
ASK ABOUT FLY-FISHING FOR KING MACKEREL!
Whether you want to troll for pelagics like dolphin or kings or drop bait for grouper or other bottom
fish - Water Dog customizes trips to your requests. I also specialize in chumming up kings, big
Spanish mackerel, sharks and amberjacks for the light-tackle anglers and fly-fishermen.
This fishery is summer-long, lasts well into the fall and rarely slows!
ROANOKE RIVER STRIPERS
April & May - For two weeks every spring I make the trek to North Carolina's legendary
Roanoke River in order to hit the peak of the spring striper run. I juggle my dates so that I'm available
for both the April "keeper season" and early May catch and release fishing."Phenomenal" is the only word
that describes it -- 100 fish per angler are the norm during the peak of the run. While most fish are in
the 15-28" range - it is possible to catch stripers up to 40lbs!
While you can use bait, it's usually a lot more fun to use artificials like jigs, crank-baits
and TOPWATER BAITS. There is usually a fantastic top-water bite in both the mornings and
afternoons. In addition, the opportunities for fly fishermen are incredible - at times fly-anglers
will even out produce spin and bait fishermen! The fishing is easy and fun and it's great for
children as well as serious, hardened anglers!
GIANT PAMLICO DRUM
August-September - North Carolina is famous for having the world's largest red drum. Come late
summer the large, mature red drum migrate from the ocean to the shallows of the Pamlico Sound
to spawn. These brutes invade the pamlico in such massive numbers that at times it is hard not to run
into them! We target these fish at night, usually anchoring up to watch the sunset and preparing for a
chaotic evening. The bite is so consistent that it is nothing to catch a dozen of these large brutes
in a single evening! These trips are an experience of a lifetime and are great for anglers of all
experience levels. You can't come to NC with out targeting the giants at least once!
REMOTE PAMLICO DRUM/TROUT
June-October - Per special request, we can travel to the remote waters of core sound and
the southern Pamlico to pursue speckled trout and drum on the vast shallow flats and along the miles
of undeveloped shorelines. With the right winds, the water can be crystal clear and offers ample
opportunities for site fishing. I'll pole the skiff along the flats while anglers keep their rods readied
to cast to schools of drum cruising the shallows. With a little luck, it is even possible to see (and thus sight cast to!)
schools of giant red drum! Regardless, the fishing is usually excellent and the scenery is fantastic. It
almost feels like your in a true wilderness!
All tackle - spin, fly or conventional - and gear is provided.
But customers may feel free to bring along whatever gear they desire.