When it comes to fishing for rockfish at the beach everyone talks about the good old days when the fish came down from Virginia and could be caught off the shore and piers.

The industry is still in debate as to why the fish stopped coming down but every now and then they show up at our beach and can be caught close to shore or even from the surf.

During the winter months there is always a lucky angler who catches the odd straggler from the beach but it is a lot like winning the lottery. A few weeks ago I began to hear whispers of schools of stripers near shore chasing baitfish but I couldn’t really confirm it but now the whispers are louder and we are beginning to see fish caught off the beach.

These rockfish are not the big fish we have had in the past but the fish are there if you can find them.

The best way is to fish from a boat near shore watching flocks of birds and your depth finder. Most of the time if you can find the schools of bait then the fish will be close by so always keep an eye out on the horizon and pay close attention to the little details like tide lines, oil slicks on the water and temperature breaks.

When I am fishing from the beach this time of year it is always with a drum rig but if I know that stripers are around then I tie on a float or bug rig to my swivel with another piece of chunk bait.

This will float up above the other lure and make a second presentation in case a rockfish swims by. I will always have a second rod set to go with a large swim bait or popper tied on.

I use this lure to fish in between checking the cut mullet but the entire time I am watching the surface and sky for signs of life.

Catching rockfish from the beach is a special kind of fishing but it is one you can never forget so if you get a chance to get out this holiday weekend make sure you gear up for the stripers.

What’s biting, where....

The offshore fleet is finding the tuna in abundance right now with plenty of blackfin and some yellowfin coming back to the docks. We even had a big eye come in this week as well as a wahoo or two.

The fishing is transitioning into tuna but there are still some mahi hanging around Hatteras.

On the beaches and near shore the fishing has been one of hit or miss with KDH being the hot spot lately for specks and rockfish.

Bob’s Bait and Tackle reports that the beaches around Duck are still on the trout and puppy drum bite with the fish being really close to shore.

Oceans East let me know that the little bridge was pretty good fishing this week with stripers and speckled trout being caught. It looks like the outgoing tide is best especially with a little north wind to help push the water.

Tandem rigs and fresh shrimp are the go to baits on the bridge and don’t be afraid to fish both sides of the road. They also let me know that the rockfish are still stacked up on the Mann’s Harbor Bridge with Rattle Traps and stretch 10’s putting most of the fish in the boats.

Here locally the largemouth bite is still on with crank baits and soft plastics putting a lot of fish in the boat. Local angler Paul Midgett from Elizabeth City sent me a report from the North River. Paul and his brother fished crank baits on points and stump fields which brought in fifteen largemouth before they got chased off the river by rain.

Great work Paul and keep those reports coming in.

The rockfish are still chasing schools of baitfish up and down the rivers and there are still some hanging around the bridges and pilings. The sound bridge is on a stretch 15 bite and the Wright Memorial Bridge has a good bite on Rattle Traps.

If anyone gets out this week make sure you send me a report and some pics to fishingwithmike921@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike.