The North Carolina seashore offers a wide variety of highly sought after inshore fish. This area has an abundance of fish and is very limited in fishing pressure because the coastal line extends such a long distance. From small seaside towns to large coastal cities, North Carolina is a destination for inshore fishing. Five of the most best-tasting fish roam these waters. Let’s learn about each of these.

What are the most popular types of fish found in the North Carolina inshore waters:

  1. Redfish
  2. Speckled Trout
  3. Flounder
  4. Sheepshead
  5. Black Drum

To get a better understanding of each of these fish common to these waters here is are specific details on each:

Redfish

Common Names: Red Bass, Channel Bass 

Description

  • The color ranges from red to bronze. 
  • Each has one or more black spots on the tail.
  • The scales are large and thick.

Size:

Most redfish in creeks and shallow coastal areas will range between two and fifteen pounds.

Deeper water redfish who inhabit bays and deepwater or offshore tend to be between thirty and fifty pounds, otherwise known as bull redfish.

Sporting ability:

Known for stamina, Channel Bass make long, intense runs.

Food Quality:

Redfish up to 10 pounds are excellent. Very large reds are not as tasty.

Speckled Trout

Common Names: Speck, Spotted Weakfish

Description

  • Large mouth with canine teeth. The inside of the mouth often appears yellow.
  • Black spots covering from the head back to the tail.
  • The main body is silver in color.

Size:

Commonly found at one to two pounds.

Large fish in the four to ten-pound range are mixed in with smaller fish in areas like rivers, creeks, and flats.

Sporting ability:

Specs are not known for strength. Primarily they fight on the surface with the occasional tug of the drag. 

Food Quality:

Speckled trout are excellent table fare.

Southern Flounder

Common Names: Southern Fluke, Doormat, Flattie, Flounder Fish

Description

  • A flatfish with an eye found on the left side of the body.
  • When flipped on its right side or known as the bottom, the flounder is colored white.
  • It is covered in eye-shaped spots on the left side.

Size:

Commonly found at one to two pounds.

Southern Flounder are typically found between two and four pounds but can reach up to 20.

Sporting ability:

They frequently bite very hard; however, some will sit with the bait ingested. 

Powerful fighting capabilities.

Food Quality:

Excellent to eat. Mild white fillets.

Sheepshead

Common Names: Saltwater Sheepshead, Atlantic Sheepshead, Convict Fish

Description

  • The mouth is lined with teeth that resemble the teeth of a sheep. The black drum looks similar, with the only difference being the set of canines.
  • Sharp dorsal fins.
  • Sheepshead has seven vertical black stripes.

Size:

Commonly found at one to two pounds.

Large fish in the four to ten-pound range are mixed in with smaller fish in areas like rivers, creeks, and flats.

Sporting ability:

Excellent fighting fish. Tough diving pulls and can easily bite through a line.

Food Quality:

Very good on the table mostly because they dine on shellfish.

Black Drum

Common Names: Drum, Striped Drum

Description

  • Distinct barbels located on the under side of the jaw.
  • Vertical black stripes and bronze body.
  • Black drum lack teeth.

Size:

Black Drum can be found between a few pounds to over 100 pounds. 

Large fish in the four to ten-pound range are mixed in with smaller fish in areas like rivers, creeks, and flats.

Sporting ability:

Striped drum are strong but predictable—nothing spectacular in the fight.

Food Quality:

The small six to the eight-pound black drum are very similar in taste to the red drum. The large ones are not good to the pallet, and the fillets become very dark in color. 

A mixed bag of all of these varieties can be caught in a single outing throughout coastal North Carolina. Understanding each species’ characteristics and size will help you be better prepared to both catch the fish and select what will be ideal for the dinner table. Be sure to bring along plenty of ice, plastic zip-up bags, and a fillet knife.