February 29, 2024

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The Complete Guide To Fishing on Emerald Isle

Reading Time: 8 minutes

At first glance, Emerald Isle may seem just like any other small coastal town. But looks can be deceiving, because this place balloons in popularity every summer when tens of thousands of tourists come down from all over the country. A good number of them must have heard just how great fishing in Emerald Isle is and came to see for themselves.

And why wouldn’t they? With its beautiful beaches and abundant marine life, this quaint town offers plenty of opportunities for rest, relaxation, and a successful day of fishing to boot. In this article, we’ll go over what makes casting a line here so great. We’ll introduce you to the local fish species, techniques, best spots, and more. So without further ado, let’s jump in.

What can I catch while fishing in Emerald Isle?

The waters around Emerald Isle are home to a variety of saltwater fish, including staples like Red Drum and Kingfish. You also have the option of heading deeper into the Gulf Stream to go after some big pelagics. But more on that in a bit. We’ll start with the most popular inshore fish and work our way up from there.


What better place to start us off than with one of America’s favorite inshore species? Like other places along the Crystal Coast, the local backwaters are teeming with Redfish in Emerald Isle. Tidal waters bring in a lot of bait fish like mullet, shrimp, and minnows, which Reds simply can’t resist. And the best thing about it – you can catch them any time of year!

Size-wise, expect most of them to be in the 3–15 lb range. They’re not as big as the ones you’ll get up north near the Neuse River, but they swim in schools so you’ll have your hands full either way. Just be careful not to spook them if you’re fishing in shallow water and you’ll do fine.


A young angler holds up a Flounder caught in the Bogue Sound, near Emerald Isle.

Another inshore darling, anglers will often overlook the Flounder bite in the backcountry because they’re focused on Redfish. It’s unfortunate because these bottom feeders make for excellent table fare while being easy to find. All you need to do is head to the nearest channel edge or mudflat with the same bait you’d use for Redfish. Before you know it, you’ll be riding the “Flounder wave,” as it’s known.

Emerald Isle anglers usually start to target Flounder just after Memorial Day. Summer Flounder start pushing in from the ocean reefs and intermingling with the local Southern Flounder in the creeks. This prime time for bottom fishing lasts until October, and occasionally November, before they have to pull back into their winter haunts.

Spanish and King Mackerel

A smiling angler stands at the back of a boat, holding a King Mackerel he recently caught.

Rounding up our list of Emerald Isle inshore catches, we have the powerful duo of Spanish and King Mackerel. Both of these are light tackle staples, targeted by beginners and veteran anglers alike. Spanish Mackerel are also popular with anglers fishing from the surf, while you’ll need a boat to put you face-to-gills with Kingfish.

But while these cousins share a lot of similarities, you’ll be targeting them at different times of the year for the best results. The peak season for Spanish Mackerel starts earlier, around April and May, while the best time to go after Kingfish is fall. You’ll still find them in these waters year-round, but your odds of reeling in a bragworthy “Smoker” are much lower when fishing out of season.

Mahi Mahi

An excited angler holds a big Mahi Mahi caught on a trolling trip.

Moving into deeper water, we have one of the most colorful pelagic fish around – Mahi Mahi. These flamboyant favorites make for the perfect introduction to the exciting world of offshore fishing. You don’t need to go too far out before you run into them, and fighting them is just challenging enough to get the adrenaline pumping.

What makes these waters great for finding Mahi is the abundance of offshore reefs where they’ll usually congregate. You can target Mahi starting in spring, all the way up to the second half of fall. If you’re dead set on going after these wonderful fish, you’ll have the best time of it by booking a fishing trip during summer.


An angler wearing sunglasses holds a Tuna he caught in the Gulf Stream during a fishing trip.

Last, but certainly not least, we have all the Tuna that call these waters home during different times of the year. The most popular of the bunch are certainly Yellowfins, who are very active in the deep blue around spring and fall. Being one of the mainstays of offshore fishing in Emerald Isle and the Crystal Coast in general, you’ll have no trouble finding a charter captain to take you out.

The other two main species of Tuna you can target in these parts are Bluefin and Blackfin Tuna. Bluefin season starts around October and can last up to half a year if the weather allows. On the flip side, Blackfins are pretty rare during the winter months, but you can run into them at any other time of year.

And More!

A crouching angler holds a Sheepshead just caught somewhere in Emerald Isle.

We’ve covered the cream of the crop, but there’s plenty of other fish in the sea. Some, like Sailfish and Marlin, are probably best suited for more experienced anglers used to long deep sea trips. Others, like Snappers, Groupers, Sheepshead, and Speckled Trout are good options for anglers of all skill levels. The most important thing to take away from this article is that there’s never a bad time to pick up a rod and head out.

How to Go Fishing in Emerald Isle

Now that you hopefully know what you’ll be going after, we should discuss different ways you can go about fishing in Emerald Isle. Whether it’s leisurely casting from the local pier or hardcore Gulf Stream excursions, these waters have something for everyone.

Surf and Kayak Fishing

An angler stands on a beach holding a fishing rod and a Flounder she just caught.

Let’s kick things off with the most affordable option there is – surf fishing. All you need to do is pack up your gear, stock up on bait, and head to the nearest shoreline or pier – we’ll talk about specific spots in a bit. As long as you’re familiar with the local regulations, you shouldn’t have any problems solo fishing on your own terms.

The kayak enthusiasts among you were probably wondering if Emerald Isle is a good place for yak fishing. The answer is a resounding yes. These marshes, creeks, rivers, and sounds are a perfect fit for a low-profile kayak to cruise in.

Another benefit of solo fishing in a tourist hotspot like this is that you can easily work some fishing time into whatever vacation plans you made for the whole family. Casting from the shore or kayak, you’re liable to catch anything from Redfish and Bluefish to Sheepshead and Spanish Mackerel.

Charter Fishing

Four smiling anglers and a charter captain on the water outside Emerald Isle.

Your other option is to join up with a charter captain and have them take you fishing on their boat. There are a couple of significant advantages to this approach. Firstly, you don’t need to lug any fishing gear around since the charter provides everything you need. Secondly, these charters are run by locals who are well-versed in the local rules and regulations. This leaves you free to focus on the fishing itself.

And speaking of fishing, this is the only way for you to go out into the Gulf Stream after the likes of Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and various Billfish. Once you’ve had the chance to experience this kind of top-shelf bluewater action, you’ll see the experience is worth every penny.

Top Fishing Spots in Emerald Isle

An infographic showing a map of the most important fishing spots in Emerald Isle.

The only thing left now is to figure out where to start your Emerald Isle fishing adventure. As you can see from the above map, it’s all pretty straightforward depending on what you’re hoping to catch that day.

  • Bogue Sound. Bogue Sound separates Emerald Isle from the mainland and is a popular inshore fishing location to boot. You’re bound to see plenty of people on kayaks fishing for Flounder and Speckled Trout, especially during fall and early winter.
  • Emerald Isle Woods Park. If you’re big on nature and would like to mix in some hiking and bird watching with your angling, this park is the perfect place to start. You can pick between casting a line or two from the local pier or launching a kayak from the nearby floating dock.
  • Bogue Inlet Pier. The Bogue Inlet Pier is where all sorts of adventures take place, beloved by anglers for its length and fishing opportunities as well as tourists for the breathtaking sights it offers. Fish caught here can vary depending on the time of day and season, with anything from simple Bluefish to Spanish Mackerel and Sharks being fair game.
  • The Point. Located on the westernmost tip of the island, The Point has almost a mile of pristine surfing area to navigate. What most newcomers won’t notice is that behind it lies a three-sided island hole that’s brimming with quality bait for you to use. A good Flounder bite is almost guaranteed in fall, and evening casts for Reds are the way to go if you want to relax after a long day.
  • Gulf Stream. Emerald Isle is a popular launching point for offshore charters and plenty of captains specialize in providing the finest experience. Once you finally reach the Gulf Stream, you can fish until you drop for some of the North Atlantic’s favorite big game species like Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Marlin, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a license for fishing in Emerald Isle?
  • Yes. Any angler over the age of 16 needs to have a valid Coastal License. Check out our post about NC Fishing Licenses for more information. When fishing with a charter, they’ll take care of the license for you.
Are there any fishing tournaments in Emerald Isle?
  • Yes! While there’s not a big tournament scene like in some other places on the Crystal Coast, Emerald Isle has its share of recurring fishing events. One example is the annual Emerald Isle Fall Fishing Tournament.
Are there alligators in Emerald Isle?
  • A few. Like with most other barrier islands, wild animals are part of the local ecosystem. Apart from the odd alligator, expect to see raccoons, possums, foxes, deer, and the occasional bear here and there.

Emerald Isle: Small Town, Big Fish

An aerial view of a beach at Emerald Isle, NC.

Not too shabby for a small coastal town, don’t you think? Whatever fishing adventure you had in mind, Emerald Isle aims to impress. The inshore waters of Bogue Sound are chock full of saltwater favorites, while the deep blue expanse of the Gulf Stream offers an unforgettable big game fishing experience. One thing’s for sure – there are no wrong options here when it comes to fishing!

Have you ever been fishing in Emerald Isle? How did it go? Any tips for anglers new to the area? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

The post Fishing in Emerald Isle: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Vuk
Title: Fishing in Emerald Isle: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/fishing-in-emerald-isle-the-complete-guide/
Published Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2023 14:00:00 +0000

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