an insider look at some of our best

bays to fish with some of the best 

local captains from around the country




KEY SPECIES: Bonito, spanish mackeral, Cobia, Speckled Sea Trout, Red Drum, Sheepshead, Black Drum, flounder, striped bass and so much more


Reel: Penn Fathom Low profile 200/ ROD: Carnage iii inshore CARINIII815C70

REEL: PENN Slammer IV 2500HS/ rod: battalion ii inshore  BATINII612S76

PENN Slammer IV 5500 or 6500-sized reel/ PENN Carnage III 3050S70 spinning rod

Onslow Bay in North Carolina runs from Cape Lookout to Cape Fear, and is over eighty miles long.  Ten different inlets feed into Onslow Bay, giving anglers so many fishing opportunities.  for the sake of this editorial piece we’ll be focusing on one of the larger inlets that feed into Onslow Bay and the inlet.  This area is Masonboro inlet and is at the south end of Wrightsville Beach, NC and at the southern half of Onslow Bay.  The areas in, around, and just offshore of Masonboro inlet in Onslow Bay, offer a year round fishery with the best season spanning from May to November.

In the spring and early summer, the first fish we look for are those high-speed Atlantic bonito, false albacore and spanish mackerel.  These fish are a lot of fun to see busting the surface of the water and even more fun to have on the end of your line!  Casting small spoons, like a Big Nic Spanish Candy lure, in ½-ounce to ¾-ounce in size and with bright colors, like pink or chartreuse, seems to be the best combination.  Look for these fish to be hanging around the near shore artificial reefs, ledges, and inlets in Onslow Bay.  Keep your eyes peeled for fish jumping and busting on the surface and don’t forget to watch the birds as they will always tell you where the fish are.

These fish move fast and feed fast, so one of the biggest tips I can give you is to get a high-speed spinning reel. I highly recommend the PENN Slammer IV 2500HS (high speed) spinning reel. It makes the high-speed presentation you’ll need to employ so much easier to accomplish, even for beginner anglers.

Another crowd pleaser species in this area is Cobia, which start to show up in Onslow Bay around mid-May and usually hang around until early July.  I look for Cobia around the inlets and shoals as well as around bait schools near both inshore and offshore reefs and ledges.  The water tends to run clear most of the time in May, June and July in Onslow Bay so it’s easier to see those brown logs swimming in the water.

I like to throw big jigs, swim baits and live bait to the Cobia.  Color really does not seem to matter, but brighter colors tend to get bit best. Berkley Fusion Bucktails I both 1 1/2 and 2-ounce work great.  I’ll always add a Berkley Gulp 5-inch grub, also in a bright color. Salmon Red color is one of my favorites.  When I’m not sight casting for Cobia, I float fish, bottom fish and kite fish in the same areas with live menhaden, spots and mullet as bait.  When casting Jigs or live baits to Cobia my preferred spinning combo is a PENN Slammer IV 5500 or 6500-sized reel, on PENN Carnage III 3050S70 spinning rod.  My Cobia bottom-fishing combos are PENN Fathom II Level Wind 20 size on a PENN Carnage III 3050C66 rod.

Starting in June we start to see the Flounder move in to the shallower waters of Onslow Bay.  This bay holds A LOT of Flounder during the Summer months.  I look for Flounder in a few different places as the season progresses. The flounder show up first on the near shore reefs and wrecks, anywhere from one to ten miles offshore in twenty-five to seventy feet of water in the bay.  By later June to early July the Flounder make their way to the inlets that feed into Onslow Bay.

I prefer to go the artificial root when fishing for flounder.  Berkley Gulp 5 and 6-inch Jerk Shads, in Pearl White, Chartreuse Pepper Neon, and Fire Tiger work great.  Also, Berkley Powerbait Grass Pig lures in Chartreuse Silver Fleck, Green Back or Crazy Chrome Violet get bit as well.  I rig both the Gulp Jerk Shad and the Grass Pig lures on Berkely Fusion buck tails in 1 ½ or 2-ounce.  When I flounder fish around the inlets of the bay, I rig those same soft plastics on Fusion jig heads in ¾ or 1-ounce sizes.  I rig both the bucktails and jig heads on 40-pound Berkley Pro Spec fluorocarbon leader material. When flounder fishing, whether it’s the ocean reefs, wrecks or the inlets, the key to getting bit is working the lure slowly across the bottom and not fishing too fast.  You’ll also need to cover lots of area to catch flounder as they won’t come to your lure.  The need to make long casts and cover water is what makes it important to choose the right rod and reel.  

The bigger redfish, also known as bull drum, start showing up on hard bottoms, reefs and around the inlets during September. When I fish for bigger reds, I use fresh cut or live menhaden and mullet as bait.  I use fish finder or Carolina rigs when bottom fishing.  These are rigged with 8/0 or 9/0 TroKar AP TK5 circle hooks, 80-pound Berkley Big game monofilament as leader and a 2 to 4-ounce sinker.  Don’t forget to keep your drag tight when using circle hooks so they will do their job.  This is one fishery I always use a bit heavier tackle so we don’t fight a red too long and possibly kill it. I use the same combos for reds as I use for Onslow Bay Cobia fishing.  My preferred spinning combo is a PENN Slammer IV 5500 or 6500-sized reel, on PENN Carnage III 3050S70 spinning rod.  If you prefer to use a conventional combo, I like the PENN Fathom II Level Wind 20 size on a PENN Carnage III 3050C66 rod.

In the fall, typically starting in October, the speckled trout move into and around the inlets of Onslow, Bay.  Speckled trout are a light tackle treat in my opinion, fun to catch and pretty good table fair.  I really like to cast lures to trout, nothing better than feeling a big’ ole’ trout hit a lure! I prefer to use grubs and hard baits in deeper waters (6 to 20-feet), like MirrOlure 52M & 52MR’s or 18MR series.  The grubs I prefer are Berkley Gulp 3” Shrimp, 3” Ripple Mullet, and Berkley Powerbait Pro Twitch Tail minnow.  I always use a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader for speckled trout fishing because the waters of Onslow Bay are very clear, especially during the fall and early winter months, and trout have great eye sight.

I’ll fish these lures towards moving water along inlet channel drop-offs as the trout always sit on the edge of that moving current.  You’ll want to cast the lures across or down current, but not up current, because it’s hard to give a lure a lively presentation when the lure is coming towards you with the current.  Jig or jerk these lures with a quick snap of the rod tip upwards and then WAIT…  The Trout will hit the lure on the fall 100% of the time. There are so many different fishing opportunities in Onslow Bay, NC and the inlets that feed into the Bay.  These are just a few I enjoy putting my customers on while I guide on this beautiful Bay in North Carolina.




to learn more about the Onslow Bay area and to book a charter with Captain Jot Owens click this link.