This has been such a unique winter, fishing in the Cape Fear area. Record breaking cold temperatures and north winds have kept many fair weather fishermen in their nests. For some reason, the typical winter saltwater species have been hiding too. The normal 50-60 fish days (redfish that is) are nowhere to be found. I have been doing much thinking on why the red drum have not been as thick as they usually are and I have yet to come up with a solid conclusion. So this has made me switch things up and head up the Cape Fear River approximately 30 miles for a different type of fishery, the striper fishery.
Striper fishing in our area is somewhat similar to fishing for largemouth bass in a freshwater river. The river along Downtown Wilmington is home to deep waters that touch 50 feet and holds an abundance of submerged trees, stumps, and even sunken ships. In recent years striped bass have been close to extinct, with days of 2 or 3 fish being common trip totals. Now, with the help of multiple organizations, the fishery is beginning to thrive once again. Just this past year, there were over 75,000 newly hatched striped bass dumped into the Cape Fear River in order to promote and rejuvenate the species. This stocking process has been going on for many years and will continue in the coming years. I have been fishing these waters for roughly a decade but have never put multiple days a week into it like I have done this winter season. I can say that it is one of my favorite fish to chase that I have encountered.
They are extremely hard to find and can hide anywhere from tiny feeder creeks to the 50-foot drop offs. Fishing baits that sink quick are important in catching these fish because of these depths. Creek mouths are also a great location on falling tides, just like any other ambush fish. I have used a wide variety of baits and have learned a lot on how to catch them. For example, deep diving x-raps or Yozuri plugs, Tsunami 5-inch swim baits, and any type of weedless swim baits have proved successful. I have had a blast with fishing for striped bass and recently boated a personal best, just over 20 pounds.
The Cape Fear is on the rise and I can’t wait to see what the fishery will look like in the future!
Capt. Christian Wolfe
Seahawk Inshore Fishing Charters