Fishing Morehead City, NC

The Crystal Coast provides plenty of opportunities.

By Capt. Brian Horsley

Starting in May and June along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, fly-fishing shifts into high gear. Early May in most years sees a good run of Atlantic bonito over the numerous artificial and natural reefs outside Beaufort Inlet in Morehead City. Some albies might even be left over from the sporadic April run. Later in the month, the Spanish mackerel and bluefish show up around the inlets and at Cape Lookout. A few miles offshore of the artificial reefs, anglers looking for dolphin will not be disappointed. Believe it or not, fly-fishing for them around Morehead City this time of year can range from good to epic. Capt. Pete Zook of Energizer Charters has this particular fishery wired. Besides looking around sargasso weed beds and current rips, Zook has perfected pulling teasers for dolphin and switching them onto a fly. The dolphin fishing reaches its peak in June, just in time for cobia to make their appearance along the beaches, in deep spots around Harkers Island and inside the “Hook.”

June also brings king mackerel to the reefs, along with hard-pulling amberjacks. Capt. Joe Shute uses live menhaden to chum up both kingfish and AJs — some of these fish get monstrous — while his anglers toss flies into the fray. Shark fishing should provide plenty of action inshore around the inlet and Cape Lookout.

Primary gear for this time of year includes 7- to 9-weight outfits for bonito, Spanish mackerel, small kingfish and blues. If you want to chase dolphin, bring rods in the 9- to 12-weight class because some of these fish reach 50 pounds. Amberjack require a minimum of an 11- or a 12-weight armed with sinking lines. Since the sharks run small, 9- and 10-weights are perfect. A couple of fly-line choices will pretty much cover the water column here, so you need to bring only intermediates and sinking lines.

There is also a bad-weather option — backcountry. There are good numbers of redfish and speckled trout, along with flounder and bluefish, in the inlets and rivers inside the banks of the Crystal Coast.