The NCNatural Guide
to
Saltwater Fishing

Primary Game and Food Fish
Inshore, Surf and Near Shore
Page 2

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


Striped Mullet


Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
unknown
Fishing Restrictions:
none
Habitat:
Mullet tolerate a wide-range of habitats but prefer estuaries and Sounds. They are often found in large schools.
Seasonal Habits:
Spawning occurs in ocean waters in the fall.
Mature Size:
11" up to 2'.
Notes:
Mullet are fairly common and make themselves obvious by jumping out of the water, sometimes in unison. Though somewhat bony, the mullet is a popular food fish, especially smoked. They are usually netted as they prefer micro-crustaceans for their food.

Red Drum
(Sciaenops ocellata)
aka - Channel Bass

Red Drum
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Stressed-Declining
Fishing Restrictions:
Min. size 18" total length. None over 27" allowed. 1 fish per day.
Habitat:
Throughout the region but migrate seasonally.
Seasonal Habits:
Found in the surf in spring and fall, and commonly in Pamlico Sound in summer. Spawning occurs in fall around inlets and young inhabit estuaries.
Mature Size:
30"- 32". Avg. 5 - 15 lbs. up to 50 lbs.
Notes:
A favorite of surf fishermen in spring and fall. They are also caught trolling inlets.

Black Drum
(Pagonias cromis)
Black Drum
Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Not rated
Fishing Restrictions:
Habitat:
Inshore waters, particularly around oyster beds.
Seasonal Habits:
Mature Size:
Avg. 3 - 6 lbs. up to 150 lbs.
Notes:
Not considered much of a game fish.

Shad
American and Hickory (pictured) Species

(Alosa sp.)
Hickory Shad

Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Unknown.
Fishing Restrictions:
10 fish per day of combined species. 12" min. size on Hickory Shad. No size restriction on American Shad.
Habitat:
Mostly open ocean returning to fresh water to spawn.
Seasonal Habits:
Shad move from the ocean to main stream portions of rivers to spawn from March to mid-June.
Mature Size:
American Shad males 12" - 17.5", females 15" - 19".

Hickory Shad males 11.5", females 12.5".
Notes:
Caught by trolling or casting spoons or lures. Rarely taken on natural baits.

Spotted Sea Trout
(Cynoscion nebulosus)

Spotted Sea Trout
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:
Min. size 12" total length. 10 fish per day.
Habitat:
Sound, inlets and surf. An estuarine dependent species. Juveniles prefer estuaries.
Seasonal Habits:
Around all year in our region, but peak catches are in the fall when they school. May and June are also good months.
Mature Size:
7"-9". Avg. 1-3 lbs. up to 8 lb..
Notes:
Good food and game fish. Both Sea Trout and its cousin the Weakfish have soft mouths which tear easily when hooked, necessitating a little finesse when catching them. These fish like to congregate in holes and deeper water along the beach or in sounds.

Weakfish
(Cynoscion regalis)


Illustration by Duane Raver, Jr. from "Fisherman's Guide-Fishes of the Southeastern United States", Charles Manooch, author. Currently out of print.
Status:
Stresses - Recovering
Fishing Restrictions:
Min. size 12" total length.
Habitat:
Throughout, but estuarine dependent.
Seasonal Habits:
Migrate south and offshore during the winter, north and inshore during the spring and summer. Spawning occurs in estuaries in spring and summer and the young spend their first season there moving offshore near the coast to over winter and spawn after their first winter.
Mature Size:
7"- 8", Avg. 1lb. up to 12 lbs.
Notes:
Good food and game fish. Both Sea Trout and its cousin the Weakfish have soft mouths which tear easily when hooked, necessitating a little finesse when catching them.

Striped Bass
(aka Rockfish, Stripers)
(Raccus saxatilus)

Striped Bass
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:
Min. size 18" total length coastal, joint and inland, Min. size 28" total length Atlantic ocean. Seasonal restrictions apply in Albemarle Sound, fishing only March-April and Nov.-Dec., and Roanoke River only March-April.
Habitat:
Striped Bass spend the majority of their life in salt water but migrate to fresh water to spawn. They can be found throughout the region.
Seasonal Habits:
Migrate to fresh water to spawn in late April through early June.
Mature Size:
11" to 22", Avg. 5-10 lbs., up to 50 lbs.
Notes:
Popular game and food fish caught from the surf or from boats.

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