June 13, 2024

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Wrightsville Beach Fishing Guide

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Any mention of Wrightsville Beach should stir up an image of any angler’s dream. This North Carolinian jewel is unparalleled on the eastern seaboard for its diverse fishing opportunities and variety of fish species. Fishing in Wrightsville Beach allows you to be competitive or relaxed – cast a few lines or land the catch of a lifetime.

This area is, indeed, an angler’s paradise. Why? Well, for starters, it’s home to the Cape Fear Marlin Tournament! Here, you can opt for a full offshore extravaganza or just spend your afternoon casting from one of the town’s fishing piers. Plus, Wrightsville Beach is the cradle of North Carolina’s surfing scene, and there are multiple marinas and prestigious yacht clubs, including the historic Carolina Yacht Club.

In this guide, we’ll talk about everything that fishing in Wrightsville Beach has to offer. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Intracoastal Waterway, and everything in between, we’ll cover it all. We’ll introduce you to the top species, spots, techniques, seasonality, and more. So without further ado…

What can I catch while fishing in Wrightsville Beach?

Wrightsville Beach allows you to explore both the tranquil inshore waters and the deep offshore grounds. Wherever you go, you can come across an array of fish species and try various local fishing techniques.

Local captains – often from families with generations of fishing heritage – are well-versed in navigating these waters. This expertise is vital considering the diverse species inhabiting the area. The shallows teem with inshore species such as Flounder, Red and Black Drum, Speckled Trout, Spanish Mackerel, and Sheepshead. Offshore waters offer an even richer bounty. We’re Tuna, Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi.

Let’s digest each fishing ground and the most interesting species you can target in Wrightsville Beach.


The inshore waters around Wrightsville Beach – the sounds, creeks, and marshes – provide some of the best opportunities for Redfish, Black Drum, Flounder, and many other fish species. Of course, there are a lot of species that call the inshore waters home, but some of them stand out from the rest…

Red and Black Drum

A smiling middle-aged angler in a viser, standing on an inshore fishing boat and holding a Redfish
Photo courtesy of Rising Sun Fishing – Wrightsville

Red Drum (also known as Redfish) and their cousins, Black Drum, are known for their spirited fights and tasty fillets. They patrol the waters around dock pilings, oyster beds, and grassy flats. We suggest you explore the tranquil seagrass beds around Masonboro Island. But don’t expect multiple hook-ups as soon as you arrive! Patience is key when it comes to fishing for both Redfish and Black Drum.

Light tackle is usually the name of the game when it comes to the most productive technique. Cut and live bait, along with artificial lures on a bottom rig can yield excellent results, especially if you’re fishing in the spring and fall. While Redfish and Black Drum are available throughout the year, they’re most abundant then.

Speckled Trout and Flounder

A smiling shirtless angler holds a Flounder while sitting on the front of a fishing boat inshore in Wrightsville Beach with the water and a tree-lined shoreline behind him
Photo courtesy of Lumina Fishing Charters

Coveted Speckled Trout are also year-round residents of Wrightsville Beach’s inshore waters, especially if you’re fishing the grassy shallows and deeper holes. Their prime season is during the cold months, however. Anglers look for them around the Bradley and Pages Creeks. Keep in mind that you need to keep your movements slow and deliberate, as Speckled Trout are easily spooked.

However, their neighbors, Flounder, are masters of camouflage. You’ll need to keep a keen eye and a gentle touch when targeting these Flatfish. Banks Channel and Motts Channel, along with creek mouths and oyster beds along the Intracoastal Waterway are prime locations where anglers can often spot the signs of these fish. Keep an eye out for a puff of sand or a slight shadow against the seabed. But again, patience is key. Flounder are ambush predators, so once you’ve cast your line with live minnows or squid, give them time to find your bait.


Heading out to the deep waters beyond Wrightsville Beach offers a whole different fishing experience. Here, you can find larger species like Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Sailfish, and Wahoo, each promising an exciting battle and the catch of a lifetime. Let’s take a closer look at them:

Tuna and Mahi Mahi

Three anglers stood on a fishing charter, with the two on either side not wearing a shirt, each holding a Tuna caught offshore from Wrightsville Beach
Photo courtesy of Pelagic Hunter Sportfishing

Wrightsville Beach anglers call it “Yellowfin summer” and “Bluefin winter” when it comes to Tuna fishing. Trolling the Gulf Stream currents between March and November can land you the gorgeous Yellowfin, while the colder months are more productive for targeting delicious Bluefin.

For these pelagic species, mixed with Mahi Mahi, chartering a deep-sea fishing boat is almost always the most fruitful approach. The offshore waters around the Frying Pan Shoals are a popular destination due to the merging of different currents, although who knows which honey holes your captain will take you to?!

If you’re after Tuna, chances are you’ll be using chunking, where chunks of bait are thrown into the water to create a feeding frenzy. But, for Mahi Mahi, sight casting at floating debris can often result in a thrilling catch, along with trolling.

Billfish and Wahoo

A middle-aged angler sitting on the side of an offshore sportfishing vessel, holding up a large Wahoo, with the water behind him on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Grassy Sound Charters

The thrill of hooking a White or Blue Marlin, or Sailfish, is every angler’s dream, and Wrightsville Beach is the ideal stage for it. The warm waters of the Gulf Stream southeast of the town teem with Billfish from late spring through fall, attracting trolling enthusiasts from all over the state – and, indeed, the world.

Then, there are Wahoo, known for their agility and speed. While they’re not quite as intense as Billfish, these feisty creatures lure anglers to the offshore waters during the fall months. Trolling, again, is the go-to technique to hook into Wahoo. A lot of locals swear by ledges and drop-offs, such as the Steeples about 50 miles southeast of Wrightsville Beach.

How can I go fishing in Wrightsville Beach?

We’ve talked a bit about which methods anglers prefer here, but what exactly do they mean? Naturally, the most productive method to land fish in Wrightsville Beach depends on what fishing experience you have in mind. Thankfully, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone. You can casually drop a line right from the shore or hop on a boat and head out to the offshore waters.

Each fishing style here requires its own unique set of techniques, gear, and understanding. Let’s go through the most popular types:

Wrightsville Beach Surf Fishing

A view from the beach in Wrightsville Beach, NC, towards the Atlantic Ocean with the town fishing pier on the right of the image extending into the ocean

Each adventure begins at the shore. And for some anglers, shore and pier fishing is a way to relax. Here in Wrightsville Beach, you’re welcome to cast a few lines and connect with nature – and land some fish, of course!

You can check what’s biting from the end of Johnnie Mercers Pier. It stands as a testament to the rich local fishing culture, extending out into the Atlantic. However, the sandy shorelines of Wrightsville Beach shouldn’t be overlooked either, especially during the warm months.

When picking your gear, consider a medium-heavy rod with a spinning reel loaded with a 15–20 lb test line. This setup works well for species like Spanish Mackerel and Flounder, to name a few. Depending on when and where you’re fishing, you can try your hand at casting jigs, bottom fishing with cut bait, or suspending live bait under a popping cork.

Inshore Fishing in Wrightsville Beach

A group of anglers on a center console fishing boat netting a Bluefish inshore in Wrightsville beach, while the captain steers the boat on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Green Creek Outfitters

The magic of inshore fishing in Wrightsville Beach happens in the calm waters of the Intracoastal Waterway and its creeks, and marshes. There’s a meshwork of productive fishing spots, which are worth a visit for Black Drum and Flounder. Bradley Creek is a great spot if you’re after Speckled Trout, while seagrass beds and oyster reefs are perfect for Redfish.

Inshore fishing usually involves light tackle. A typical local setup includes a 7′ medium-light rod paired with a spinning reel, loaded with a 10–15 lb braided line for Redfish, Black Drum, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. The exact technique depends on the species you’re after, varying from bottom fishing to casting soft plastics. A good Wrightsville Beach inshore tactic is an adaptable approach.

Wrightsville Beach Deep Sea Fishing

A female angler standing on an offshore sportfishing boat, with her rod bent battling a fish in the deep seas
Photo courtesy of Leverdrag Charters

It goes without saying that if you’re willing to taste the offshore bite, you’ll need to head out with a local charter. Tackling big game species like Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and Sailfish requires not only sturdy gear but a lot of local knowledge. A deep understanding of your target species’ behavior, as well as using a versatile set of techniques is something you can count on when fishing with a captain.

Speaking of the gear, a heavy-duty offshore rod and reel setup capable of holding 50–80 lb test lines is usually necessary. The list of potential deep sea fishing techniques varies depending on the target. You might be doing anything from trolling with live bait to bottom fishing.

Where can I go fishing in Wrightsville Beach?

An aerial view of an inlet near Wrightsville Beach, NC, with a number of boats making their way to and from the ocean on a clear day

If you’ve never been to North Carolina before, just open up the map and check it out. Search for Wrightsville Beach, and you’ll see how unique the landscape is. It’s no surprise that this place is home to everything from the quiet creeks and grassy flats of the Intracoastal Waterway to bustling public piers and the vast expanses of the open Atlantic Ocean.

Wherever you decide to cast your line, each spot has a unique charm and the potential to catch something interesting. Here’s a quick list of some of the most promising locations in and around Wrightsville Beach:

  • Johnnie Mercers Pier: This is an iconic fishing pier that needs no introduction. Depending on when you’re fishing, you can catch anything from Spanish Mackerel and Flounder in summer to Striped Bass in winter.
  • Masonboro Inlet: This inlet is located between Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Island. Here, you can get your hands on Redfish, Flounder, and Speckled Trout – the best inshore species around. Make sure to pay attention to the tidal changes, since they can influence fishing conditions.
  • Banks Channel: This channel, bordering the western side of Wrightsville Beach, offers a tranquil fishing experience with calm waters and various docks to fish from. What’s on the menu? Anything from Seatrout to Black Drum.
  • Motts Channel: Another great channel for you to explore, the Motts is nestled between Wrightsville Beach and Harbor Island. There are many structures and oyster beds, which make perfect spots for summer Flounder fishing.
  • Frying Pan Shoals: If you don’t mind the boat ride, consider booking a charter to this offshore location. It’s a great place to hunt for various pelagics, such as Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Marlin.
  • The Steeples: Deep sea fishing near the Steeples is a must if you’re an experienced angler who’s up for a challenge. There are sharp drop-offs with large Wahoo, Kingfish, and many other species waiting to be caught.
  • Bradley Creek: This idyllic creek is located right on the mainland. It’s the perfect spot for a calm day of fishing for Speckled Trout, especially in the cooler months.

When can I go fishing in Wrightsville Beach?

So you know what you can catch, how to go about it, and where to go. But what about when to visit? In essence, fishing in Wrightsville Beach is a year-round affair, with each season offering something unique. Each species takes its turn in the spotlight, and a great catch isn’t confined to a single season.

As the waters warm in spring, migratory species like Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish begin to make their presence felt along the coast, making pier fishermen happy. Inshore, Redfish and Black Drum, along with Speckled Trout, bite well in Banks Channel and Bradley Creek. Plus, you can begin your offshore adventure towards the end of spring and head out for Tuna and Mahi Mahi.

Flounder is the name of the game in the inshore waters come summer, particularly in areas like Motts Channel. Offshore, the warm currents of the Gulf Stream attract Marlin and Sailfish, which, in turn, attract a lot of deep sea fishing enthusiasts.

Wrightsville Beach’s fall season has somewhat of a different rhythm. Masonboro Inlet and Bradley Creek are busy with Speckled Trout anglers, while the deep waters of the Steeples see crowds of anglers hunting for Wahoo. In winter, some species retreat to warmer waters, while others like Striped Bass become more active.

Fishing in Wrightsville Beach: Your Fishing Tale Begins

An aerial view of Wrightsville Beach, NC, with an inshore bay visible in the foreground, giving way to a barrier island full of houses and the ocean in the distance

It’s not that hard to understand why fishing in Wrightsville Beach is more than just a sport. In essence, it’s an adventure and a chance to connect with nature and escape the everyday. This area welcomes novice anglers hoping to feel the thrill of that first catch and seasoned pros seeking their next big trophy. You can hunt for Blue Marlin and Speckled Trout on the same day, yet every fishing trip in Wrightsville Beach presents a new challenge. All you have to do is accept it!

Have you ever been fishing in Wrightsville Beach? What’s your favorite catch? Share your fish stories in the comments below!

The post Wrightsville Beach Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Wrightsville Beach Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/wrightsville-beach-fishing/
Published Date: Fri, 07 Jul 2023 08:21:14 +0000

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