The NCNatural Guide
to
Saltwater Fishing

Primary Game and Food Fish
Inshore, Surf and Near Shore
Page 1

Black Drum, Black Sea Bass, Bluefish, Butterfish, Cobia, Croaker, Flounder, Grey Trout, Hickory Shad, Jumping Mullet, King Mackeral, Inshore Lizardfish, Atlantic Menhade, Northern Puffer, Oyster Toadfish, Pigfish, Pinfish, Pompano, Red Drum, Sea Mullet, Northern Searobin, Sheepshead, Silver Perch, Skate, Speckled trout, Striped Bass, Tarpon, Sting Ray


Black Sea Bass
(Centropristes striatus)

Black Sea Bass
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
North of Cape Hatteras - Depressed
South of Cape Hatteras - Stressed-Declining
Fishing Restrictions:
Recreational season closes from Aug 1- Aug 15. 10" min. size limit, 20 fish/day limit.
Habitat:
Irregular Hard Bottoms incl. wrecks, artificial reefs and rock outcrops. Ocean, inlets and Sounds.
Mature Size:
7.7" to 18" (rare). Weight avg. 1 to 1.5 lbs. to 6 lbs.
Notes:
Excellent game and food fish, caught throughout our range on bottom rigs. Declining status is unfortunate.

Bluefish
(Pomatomus saltatrix)
Bluefish
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Stressed-Recovering
Fishing Restrictions:
10 fish/day limit, by hook and line.
Habitat:
Ocean, including near shore, occassionally inshore near inlets. Gather in schools.
Seasonal Habits:
Migrate North in Spring , South in Fall. Larger fish are caught in the fall. Smaller more energetic fish are caught in the summer.
Mature Size:
13" Fork Length (tip of snout to fork of tail) to 30". Weight 1-3 lbs. to 25 lbs.
Notes:
An excellent game fish and a good fighter. Aggressive (with sharp teeth) especially in feeding schools. Excellent food fish, though somewhat oily. Clean the fish asap for best flavor. Caught from the surf and piers, or by boat, trolling or bottom rig on almost any kind of lure or cut bait. They like turbulent water near rip currents.

Croaker Status:
Fishing Restrictions:
Habitat: Seasonal Habits: Mature Size:
Notes:
Good fighters for their size and a mainstay of bottom fishermen. They prefer natural baits.

Flounder
Southern and Summer Flounder have similar appearnace.
Flounder
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Southern Flounder -Viable
Summer Flounder - Stressed-Recovering
Fishing Restrictions:
Min. size limit 13" total length inshore, 15" ocean.
Habitat:
Mud bottoms throughout our range.
Seasonal Habits:
Spawn offshore near Continental Shelf Nov.-March. Young fish enter inlets and sounds and settle on muddy bottoms.
Southern Flounder -
Migrate offshore and south in winter and early spring, inshore and north in late spring, summer and fall.
Summer Flounder -
Migrate offshore and north in winter and early spring, inshore and south in summer anf fall.
Mature Size:
13"
Notes:
Excellent food fish. The flounder has an unusual appearance that is an adaptation to it's habitat. Young flounder appear more or less normal as free swimmers, but as they age, the right eye migrates to the left side of the body and the body flattens out allowing the flounder to rest inconspicuously on the bottom. Best method for catching flounder is drift fishing the bottom with live bait or bucktail lures. Significant pressure is applied to flounder populations by commercial trawling and netting in the Sounds, which may result in tighter controls.

Sea Mullet
(aka. Kingfish, Whiting)
Southern, Northern and Gulf Species

(Mentricirrus sp.)
Kingfish
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Unknown. Apparently viable.
Northern species is near the limit of it's range in our region and consequently fewer. The Southern species is the most common.
Fishing Restrictions:
None
Habitat:
Bottom feeders found on sandy or mud bottoms in fairly shallow water, including the surf zone.
Seasonal Habits:
Seasonal movements from estuarine and nearshore waters to deeper offshore as water temps cool.
Mature Size:
9" to 2', avg. 1 lb.
Notes:
Good food fish, caught primarily from the surf or on bottom rigs with natural baits.

King Mackerel
(Scomberomerus cavalla)

King Mackerel
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Viable
Fishing Restrictions:
Season runs from April 1 - March 31 and closes when the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is reached. Min. size 20" Fork Length (point of snout to fork of tail)
Habitat:
Open ocean near the coast, but usually a mile or more offshore.
Seasonal Habits:
King Mackerel migrate according to water temperature preferring water 68-78 degrees F. In winter and early spring they congregate just inside the Gulf Stream near the Continental Shelf. In summer and fall they move inshore along beaches and near inlets.
Mature Size:
28", up to 60 lbs.
Notes:
Like all mackerels these are excellent game fish. The King Mackerel is the only species in the family that lacks spots or distinctive markings on the back and sides. Usually caught by trolling spoons, lures or squid.

Spanish Mackerel
(Scomberomeros maculatus)

Spanish Mackerel
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Viable
Fishing Restrictions:
Season runs from April 1 - March 31 and closes when the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is reached. Min. size 12" Fork Length (point of snout to fork of tail).
Habitat:
Open waters near the coast. In summer they may be found in Sounds and inlets or rivermouths.
Seasonal Habits:
North and South migrations correspond to fluctuations in water temp., with their minimum tolerence about 68 degrees F.
Mature Size:
12", Avg. 1-2 lbs. up to 12 lbs.
Notes:

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