December 7, 2023

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The Complete Guide To Fishing In Morehead City

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Welcome to Morehead City, or as the locals call it – “Fisherman’s Paradise”! This quaint town on the Crystal Coast continues to live up to its name, which is why so many anglers keep coming back year after year. With ready access to the Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, fishing in Morehead City can easily be the highlight of your year.

Its location makes it the perfect starting point for both inshore and offshore fishing trips – the sky’s your limit. From leisurely surf fishing to adrenaline-pumping deep sea battles with Billfish and Tuna, there’s something here for every angler. Our more competitive readers will definitely want to check out the local tournament scene, but more on that in just a bit. For now, let’s take a look at the most popular species in these waters.

Which species can I catch fishing in Morehead City?

Morehead City’s built up a reputation for its excellent offshore fishing, with charters being booked weeks in advance during peak season. And while we do love ourselves some Billfish, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. We’ll walk you through the fishery’s main players, so stick with us as we cover them in more detail.


Most out-of-state anglers coming here will be doing it for the Billfish bite, so we may as well kick things off with these superstars. Specifically, we’re talking about Marlin of the Blue and White variety as well as the beloved Sailfish. These prestigious acrobats will give you a run for your money, that’s for sure. They swim fast, fight hard, and leap in the air like no one’s business, what’s not to like?

For the ultimate Billfishing experience you’ll want to book your trip in late summer or fall, and do it well ahead of time. That’s when the fish are out in force, and charter captains get booked up before you know it. Anglers with more experience should consider planning their visit around one of the big tournaments, like the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. Also known as the “Superbowl of fishing”, it regularly brings in competitors from around the world.


A smiling angler on a bandana holds a Tuna he recently caught on an offshore trip out of Morehead City.

Another big name in the offshore fishing business, Tuna are a staple of Morehead City fishing. Not only that, but they come in many different shapes and sizes. The most common ones of the bunch are Yellowfin Tuna. Yellowfins are some of the fastest fish around, so underestimate them at your own peril. These waters are also home to their bigger cousins, Bluefins. Reeling in a keeper Bluefin can take hours, which just goes to show how stubborn they can get.

There’s more where those two came from, too! While not as common, Blackfin and Bigeye Tuna can also make an appearance whenever you’re trolling for Yellowfins. Speaking of trolling, the best time to head out on the water in search of these beasts is either late spring or early fall – you decide. Expect world-class action either way!

Mahi Mahi

An angler holds a Mahi Mahi he recently caught during an offshore trip into the Gulf Stream.

Whereas pros love their Billfish, Mahi Mahi are a great option for beginner anglers looking to make some headway into the offshore side of things. Oh, they’ll put up a fight, just a more reasonable one for anglers of all skill levels. Another plus for Mahi is that you can find them closer to shore than you would, say, a Sailfish. Finally, they taste great if you’re looking to bring home a good dinner.

You’ll run into Mahi any time from spring to mid-fall, leaving you with a big window for planning the perfect fishing trip. If you’re hoping to reel in as many of these colorful creatures as possible, we’d suggest a summertime trip.

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

A smiling angler stands on a boat holding a Kingfish he just caught on a fishing trip.

Now that we’ve been over the species found in deeper waters, let’s take a look at what’s biting inshore. And where better to start than with the ever-popular Kingfish? One of the most commonly caught species across North Carolina, King Mackerel never cease to amaze with their powerful runs and signature acrobatics.

The great thing about King Mackerel fishing in Morehead City is that you can do it all year round! The only trick is knowing where to find them at any given time, and a charter captain who knows his stuff will prove indispensable. All you trophy-hunters out there should focus on the April–November period to maximize your odds of reeling in a 20–50 lb “smoker”.


A happy angler holds a Red Drum he caught near Morehead City on a windy day.

As with so many other fisheries across the United States, Redfish are a frequent sight in the inshore waters. These iconic fish have both quality and quantity going for them in spades. You can find them pretty much everywhere, as they congregate in large schools and some of them get really big. Weighing up to 50 pounds, “bull” Reds are a welcome sight on any trip.

The best time to go after Red Drum is anywhere from June to October, but you’ll run into them any time of year. During the winter months, you’ll find them further out than usual around various reefs and wrecks.

And More!

A smiling angler holds up a pair of Groupers he caught during a fishing trip near Morehead City.

This was just the top billing since we’d end up with a book if we wanted to cover every single fish species in Morehead City! Before diving into the where and how of things, let’s quickly cover a few more species you may be interested in.

Those of you in the market for a good meal might want to consider a bottom fishing trip for the likes of Red, Gag, and Snowy Grouper. If you don’t want to go far from shore, summer fishing for Flounder is another great way to spend an afternoon. Finally, all you freshwater fanatics can check out the Catfish and Bass bite around Morehead City, too. You won’t be disappointed.

How to Go Fishing in Morehead City

The way you decide to go about your fishing trip should be based on the grounds you’re hoping to fish. For example, if you plan on heading into the Gulf Stream, hiring a charter is a given. On the other hand, inshore and freshwater fishing allows you to be more flexible with your approach. Without further ado, let’s jump in.

Charter Fishing

Three anglers on a boat during an offshore trip to the Gulf Stream, with one sitting in a fighting chair holding two rods.

Fishing with a licensed charter has many advantages, especially if you’re not from the area yourself. Having an experienced captain means you can focus on the most interesting part of the trip – the actual fishing. What’s more, these are professional anglers who can show you the ins and outs of catching a particular species of fish you might be going after for the first time in your life. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere!

Running with a charter also means you don’t need to worry too much about the local fishing regulations. Your captain will provide the necessary fishing licenses and keep you abreast of any size and bag limits relevant to your trip. This is definitely the hassle-free option if you place a high value on convenience and comfort.

Shore Fishing

A bench on a fishing pier next to which are three fishing rods.

On the other hand, you can always take matters into your own hands and fish solo. This is a tempting option if you want to mix in some casting with, say, a picnic trip to one of the local parks. It’s tough to beat a day of rest and relaxation with your loved ones, especially when you pair it up with some light fishing.

The most important thing when planning your own fishing trip is to be prepared. Apart from having the right equipment for the job, you’ll also need to make sure you have the necessary fishing license and are aware of the local size and bag limits. On the upside, you get to pick your own hours and not worry about keeping to a tight schedule.

Top Fishing Spots in Morehead City

Like in other parts of the Crystal Coast, good fishing opportunities are all around you. Some are closer than you think! Here are some of our favorite fishing spots in Morehead City:

An infographic showing the most popular spots for fishing in Morehead City.
  • Jaycee Park. One of the great things about this town is that you don’t even need to leave the downtown area to go fishing! Jaycee Park is the perfect place for a picnic with two fishing piers to boot. The water is shallow and mostly home to Catfish and small Red Drum.
  • Sugarloaf Island. Just across from Jaycee Park, you’ll see the northern edge of Sugarloaf Island. The southern side of the island is good for going after Flounder and Speckled Trout. Keep in mind you’ll need a skiff or kayak to reach it in the first place.
  • Newport Marshes. Go some 2 miles northeast of Morehead City proper, and you’ll be knee-deep in the Newport Marshes. This is a prime inshore fishing spot with as many Redfish, Trout, and Flounder as you could possibly want.
  • Radio Island. Unlike the last island we mentioned, you can easily access Radio Island via Highway 70. There’s hardly anyone here during the work week, so it’s a good option for a day of fishing when you could use some peace and quiet.
  • Bogue Sound. Our final inshore hotspot on this list, the Sound is where you want to go if going after Redfish in shallow waters is your jam. Just take care not to spook the fish and you’ll have a great time.
  • Gulf Stream. Hardly a specific spot in its own right, but the Gulf Stream requires a mention since this is where you need to go for all your offshore fishing needs. Billfish, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and so many more await.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need a fishing license when fishing in Morehead City?

    Yes. When fishing in most waters near Morehead City, every angler over the age of 16 will need to have a Coastal License. Check out our post about NC Fishing Licenses for more information.

  2. When is the best time for Morehead City fishing?

    Fall is certainly the most popular time for the local fishing community. But ultimately it boils down to the fish species you're targeting, so it's always good to be flexible.

  3. What are the size and bag limits when fishing in Morehead City?

    Both size and bag limits vary depending on the given species, and are subject to change. We recommend checking out the NC DEQ website for the latest information on bag and size limits.

Morehead City – A Gem of the Crystal Coast

An aerial view of a dock area in Morehead City with parked boats shown.

By now you should have a clear picture of what kind of Morehead City fishing experience is the one for you. There’s hardly a wrong choice – all fishing is good fishing when the place is called Fisherman’s Paradise! Welcome to the pearly gates, we hope you enjoy your say.

Have you ever been fishing in Morehead City? How did it go? Feel free to share any stories and tips you picked up with our readers in the comments below.

The post Fishing in Morehead City: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Vuk
Title: Fishing in Morehead City: The Complete Guide
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Published Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2022 14:00:00 +0000

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