View All Posts

Apr 23

Your Complete Guide to Fishing and Fun in Jacksonville NC

Posted on April 23, 2021 at 7:26 PM by Kim Tilghman

Get Ready To Fish
Cast stress away as you fish on the scenic New River. Book one of our seasoned guides, and consider taking the kids, too. Retreat after your day on the water to a comfy hotel or short-term rental. 

Jacksonville NC Fishing Charter on New River at Sunset
Whether you’re new to fishing or a pro angler, Jacksonville and the surrounding area offers rich opportunity for satisfying fishing--and sunsets. At the New River (above), speckled trout, bass and other species lure many anglers. These tips get you started.

DSC_9236_FISHING_LR-Onslow County Tourism

Choose from saltwater and freshwater fishing

Want to fish from the New River, the beach or a pier? The area supplies plenty of options. Fish for fresh and brackish water catches on the New River or at Riverwalk Crossing Park in Jacksonville. If you have your own boat, Jacksonville Landing (photo below) offers excellent access to the New River. Engage the local guides in the area, and they'll lead you straight to the fish. 


For saltwater fishing, expect to land speckled trout, flounder, red drum, bluefish, sea mullet (whiting), spot, croaker, and Spanish mackerel. Go out in a larger boat, and fish for cobia, mahi, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, grey trout, flounder, black sea bass and grouper. For saltwater or surf fishing, head to the Seaview Pier in North Topsail (about 30 minutes away). In-shore charters sail out of Swansboro and Sneads Ferry. 

Jacksonville Fishing Map

The scoop from a Jacksonville fishing guide...

Jacksonville and Onslow County sit on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The New River and its tributaries eventually transition from brackish (a mix of seawater and fresh water) to freshwater, says captain Junior Sinclair of Fishbones Inshore Fishing Charters. “We catch largemouth bass, blue gill, crappie, catfish and pike inshore,” he explains. “I love chasing the red drum from deep in the creeks and tributaries through the marsh grass and into the surf.”
Fishing at Jacksonville Landing- Jacksonville NC

Fishing is fun for all ages and levels of experience

Fishing is a family-friendly activity perfect for all ages. “We cater to everyone—from two to ninety-two,” says captain Ricky Kellum, aka The Speckled Specialist. “It’s a great family activity and alternative to video games. Kids can fish just as well as a seasoned pro.”


Fishing can also be an inclusive activity for individuals with physical limitations. Captains Kellum and Sinclair have successfully hosted fishing outings for clients with terminal cancer patients and paraplegics. Sinclair has hosted trips sponsored by the Foundation for Exceptional Warriors


You can fish year-round

Peak fishing season along the Carolina coast is April through November, yet anglers cast a line throughout the year. “Winter fishing can be great. A bad weather day might be a great day to fish,” says Sinclair. Changes in barometric pressure often cause fish to become active, he explains.


Ready, Set, Fish

What to know before you go:

  • Bring a fishing license. You can get a fishing license at retailers such as Walmart and locally at Eastern Outfitters, as well as online. If you’re going on a charter, ask your guide if he or she will provide your license. You may need to secure it beforehand.
  • Know the weather. Watch the weather and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly. Plan your trip with these Sunrise-Sunset tables.
  • Ask about military discounts.
  • Find a place to stay. Western Boulevard in Jacksonville teems with hotels, restaurants and shopping. These hotels often have larger parking lots where you can park your boat. Talk to the front desk clerk about this before you make reservations. You can also find VRBO and AirBnB choices options, too. 
  • Bring binoculars. This area is home to large populations of osprey. Anglers often spot nests. In addition, you'll see and hear the manmade osprey aircraft practicing maneuvers overhead in the sky.
Osprey Nest on New River in Jacksonville NC

Other Helpful Links:

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries 

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 

Boating access areas

Fishing Booker