Spring is here and the fish are biting in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. As the weather and water warm up, now is the time to tackle the incoming seasonal stock of fish along our pristine fresh and saltwater coastline. Fishermen of all skill levels can cast their lines and enjoy a “reel” good time during this promising season with access to great fishing spots and outfitters ready to provide whatever you might need. Is a spring fishing trip in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands on the calendar for you this year? Read on for local expertise and tips to make your next catch a memorable one.

woman holding a fish

Common Catches

As water temperatures in the Brunswick Islands approach a magical 60 degrees, the increased presence of bait fish in our waters brings forth more active populations of feeding species. According to local expert Captain Jerry Dilsaver, fish are exiting their winter doldrums and actively feeding in the spring, meaning if you find them, they are especially motivated to bite.

What you bring in depends on when and where you drop your line. In early spring, areas of warmer inshore water are home to red drum, speckled trout, black drum, whiting, and pufferfish. For offshore fishermen waiting for the grouper seasons to reopen come May and June, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgies, and grunts are common catches to take home. Wahoo and blackfin tuna, which spend their winters in the area, are usually joined by mahi-mahi, and Spanish mackerel sometime in April.

Find a Favorite Spot

According to Captain Dilsaver, the Brunswick Islands’ combination of healthy internal nursery waters, larger waters, and nearby ocean access is what makes fishing here so special. For someone trying to figure out what they might like, spring is the perfect time to take full advantage and try it all.

New to fishing? Practice your technique from any of our five ocean piers (Holden Beach Pier is temporarily closed for rennovations) and don’t be afraid to come as you are. Many vendors take the guess work out of outfitting and offer rods and reels for rent. Seeking a slower pace and scenic view? Traveling the calm backwater creeks and fishing from a kayak is where you’ll want to be. How about a little more adventure? Book a local charter to take you out into the deep blue ocean waters. Many charters offer both half-day and all-day excursions staffed by excellent experts who Captain Dilsaver attests are, “equipped and knowledgeable to do whatever you want to do.”


Tips for First Timers

If you think you’re ready to head out and hook your first fish, Captain Dilsaver has a few final tips to ensure you don’t return home empty handed. First, fresh bait will usually give you better results. Captain Dilsaver notes that whiting in particular love shrimp. “They have a great nose,” says Captain Dilsaver. “A shrimp that has been out of ice for a couple hours probably isn’t going to catch as well as that piece on the hook that is still fresh.”

Second, for most inshore fishing, a 7-foot rod with a spinning reel and medium to medium light action is all you’ll need. Captain Dilsaver notes that ease is key when starting out. “You’ve got to have a bit of an educated thumb to prevent a conventional reel from overspinning and backlashing on the cast, and when you’re starting out you’ve got to develop that,” he says.

Finally, remember to enjoy your surroundings. The Brunswick Islands is filled with great scenery and good habitat Captain Dilsaver remarks. “It’s just a nice place to be,” he says. “Even if the fish aren’t biting it’s a nice place to be.”

Whatever you are hoping to catch on your next fishing trip, and wherever you’re hoping it will take you, the Brunswick Islands is here to provide the places, equipment, and memories to make it a “reel” good time. For more information on fishing in the Brunswick Islands visit, https://www.ncbrunswick.com/things-to-do/fishing/.