Wrightsville Beach is the perfect destination your next fishing break. From the awesome variety of fishing charters you can enjoy here, to the great angling opportunities at Wrightsville Beach’s two fishing piers, you can always find something big and tasty to take your bait. For more serious anglers, there are world-class fishing tournaments like the Cape Fear Marlin Tournament which have been drawing competitive sport fishers for decades. From family trips to high-octane offshore action, there really is something for everyone.
Wrightsville Beach has a great pedigree when it comes to water sports. The birthplace of North Carolina’s surfing scene, it is the perfect place for surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, yachting and, you guessed it, fishing. The town’s ten different marinas and yacht clubs include the historic Carolina Yacht Club, Wrightsville Beach’s first permanent construction and the second oldest yacht club in the country.
Most local captains come from generations-long fishing families and have spent their whole lives working these waters. That’s a good job, too, because the range of species you can catch here is staggering. The shallows are home to all your favorite inshore species like Flounder, Red and Black Drum, Speckled Trout, Spanish Mackerel, and Sheepshead. Offshore, things are even better, with summer populations of Yellowfin Tuna, White and Blue Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi, tagged out in the winter by big Bluefin Tuna caught just off the beach!
From the shallowest creek to the darkest depths of the Atlantic Ocean, Wrightsville Beach fishing spots are as diverse as they are numerous. Here are a few of our must-visit locations to help you get the most out of your trip. Of course, Wrightsville Beach fishing guides like to keep their favorite spots secret, so you’re bound to find a dozen more gems on every trip.
Johnnie Mercer’s & Crystal Pier
Wrightsville Beach’s two fishing piers are a nice place to start if you’ve brought your tackle to town. Fishing from either of these, you can catch Flounder, Bluefish, Sheepshead, Red Drum, and more while enjoying the town’s most important landmarks.
Not so much a fishing spot as a general umbrella for most Wrightsville Beach inshore fishing. Charter a local flats boat and you can enjoy hours of shallow-water action, targeting big “Gray” (Speckled) Trout, Red Drum, Flounder, and way too many more to list here. The calm waters and short ride make this the perfect family fishing trip, while the beautiful surroundings and diverse wildlife will keep even the most reluctant ride-alongs happy.
Not exactly a creek so much as a popular nearshore spot, this long-flooded waterway provides some great structure and is a go-to place for targeting big Flounder. Most of the structure sits in around 25 feet of water and is also home to Mullet, Trout, and Bluefish. The area’s popularity can often make it crowded in the busy summer months but it’s still well worth a visit if you’re in town out of season.
Five-Mile & Ten-Mile Boxcars
These two reefs are found at five-mile intervals on the way out from Mansboro Inlet and are made of, you guessed it, old railroad boxcars. A huge range of species gather here, starting with Spanish Mackerel, Barracuda, Cobia, and Black Seabass at the five-mile mark and working up to Grouper, Snapper, Amberjack, King Mackerel, and ocean-going “doormat” Flounder further out.
The School House
Around 17 miles out from Mansboro Inlet, this reef was also originally made of boxcars but was spared the boring name by the addition of a large barge from a local community college. The reef signals the start of good offshore fishing, with Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, and big “smoker” Mackerel, as well as bottom fishing favorites like Amberjack, Snapper, and Grouper.
Head past the sprawling mess of local reefs and wrecks and eventually you will hit the deep, warm waters of the Gulf Stream. There are loads of spots to choose from along the sloping edge of the continent, most of which are a good 60 miles out. Accept the long journey and commit to the extended trip times and you will not regret it. This is the best deep sea fishing Wrightsville Beach has to offer, home to Mahi Mahi, Sailfish, Wahoo, White Marlin, and even Blue Marlin.
Wrightsville Beach Fishing Charters vary hugely in price, depending on the size of the boat and – most importantly – the length of the trip. Half day trips can cost anything from $300 for a flats boat to $600 for one of the many modern sportfishing vessels in town. Full day trips vary just as much, starting at around $500 and almost doubling that for a high-end vessel.
If you want to hit the rich fishing grounds of the Gulf Stream, you will need to book in for an extended blue water trip. These start at around $1400 for a decent 12-hour trip and cost over double that for an overnight charter. Our advice? Bite the bullet and book a longer trip – it’s much better than spending most of your trip just getting to the fishing grounds.
There are certain species which are particularly important to local anglers and Wrightsville Beach charter guides have built up their own preferred methods for catching them. Flounder is a serious local favorite, mainly thanks to the sheer size Summer Flounder reach here. Whether you’re fishing in the shallows or out on the reefs, the method of choice is to use live Menhaden. Larger Menhaden are also used on spinning gear to tempt in King Mackerel, while out in the Gulf Stream brined Ballyhoo rule the day, dressed up in their Sunday best to troll for Marlin, Sailfish, and monster Tuna.
Need to Know
Most local charters come with everything you need for the day’s fishing - tackle, bait, lures, and licenses (except on some of the smaller boats). That’s about it, though. You should bring along any food or drinks you want (particularly on long trips) as well as a variety of sensible clothing for the changing temperatures and the all-important Dramamine if you suffer from seasickness. Fly anglers are usually welcome, but rarely catered for, so you should bring along all your favorite fly gear if you want to explore this diverse fishery.