Along with the chance to fish on the open sea, the southeastern coastal North Carolina has dozens of lakes and rivers located throughout the state where anglers regularly enjoy the sport of fishing. Whether hoping to wrangle a game fish or a catch to fry in the pan, there are plenty of saltwater and freshwater fish species available. 


Three species of flounder are found in the waters around North Carolina. But, the southern flounder remains the most popular, as the fish are commonly found residing in inland waters. The fish inhabit shore ledges and inlet reefs up to 10 miles from the shoreline. Occasionally, an angler nabs a rare gulf flounder in offshore waters. However, the species often prefer locations with sandy bottoms. Peak flounder season starts in April and extends well into November. Ideal locations include the ledges and reefs off Bogue Banks, Morehead City, Southport and Wrightsville Beach. 

Red Drum

As an adult fish may weigh more than 50 pounds and have a length surpassing 40 inches, the red drum are another favorite among local anglers. Smaller fish swim in schools along sand bars, grass beds or oyster beds. The adult fish commonly swim to Pamlico Sound during the summer months of July and August to spawn. Otherwise, peak season for the big bull reds occur in the fall. Ideal locations include Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout and the mouth of the Cape Fear River. 

Speckled Trout 

The aggressive fish love to give anglers a fight, which makes them one of the most popular catches in the state. Schools can be found wherever bait fish or shrimp are in abundance. “Specks” are often found lurking in creek mouths, jetties, oyster beds and pier pilings. Oak Island pier remains a hotspot. The location also sells live shrimp as bait during the peak season that begins in early summer and runs into early fall. 


The species closely resembles a large freshwater catfish but is known to put up much more of a fight. Cobia has been known to weigh up to 100 pounds and requires a battle lasting anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours before landing the prize. The fish begin arriving in Morehead City in May, which is also when a local tournament occurs. The fish are also found in ample quantities in the waters around Cape Hatteras.