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29 Oct 2020
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As we’re finishing the journey through the special season of giving thanks, we’re also wrapping up a very special season for some folks at Holden Beach. Coastal fall fishing is often a popular time of year for many avid fishermen to hook their favorite variety of fish – and often in abundance! Whether surf fishing in the inlet, on the popular east end, along the shoreline to the Intracoastal Waterway, or off one of the piers, every day is an unpredictable experience.

Anglers can purchase daily, weekly, or annual passes at the Holden Beach Fishing Pier. Fishing is open year-round, except for the limited period of winter maintenance for the 700-foot rustic pier, a beloved, iconic gathering spot for fishing in this seaside community. It's constructed out of unpainted natural wooden planks which have withstood many years of nor’easters and storms. Learn more about the Holden Beach Pier here. Regardless of the fishing location, one thing’s for certain….and that’s 100% nautical fun amidst incredible coastal beauty. 

fishing holden beach

Ask 100 avid fishing fanatics about their favorite fishing spots and you’ll probably get 100 different answers! But one thing’s for sure… Holden Beach anglers enjoy ample opportunity to reel in a big catch, and some dedicate an entire vacation to cast their own fish story under sunny or moonlit skies. Easy access to the popular spots is made easier by free public parking scattered from the east end to under the bridge to various side canal home roads. The end of Sailfish is a well-kept secret (no more!) where a quaint, partly-shaded park flanks the waterway and canal — perfect spots for casting a line or net any time of day.

Of course, you can also bring your own boat, rent a boat, or charter a boat for an off-shore excursion to enjoy some of the best bottom fishing along the east coast. The local marina is a great resource for those seeking ocean views. But whether trying to catch that trophy fish or a few to fry up in the skillet, options abound for all. Holden Beach fishing is an adventure year-round, but every season holds its specialty fish and specific conditions to consider. What's biting is fairly dependent on the time of year.

intercoastal waterway

An occasional shark, Spanish Mackerel or King Mackerel can often keep our autumn reelers busy on half-day nearshore trips. Local bait and tackle shops are happy to help you gear up, whether it’s to catch Black Drum, Whiting and Blues on shrimp, or a few Trout in the surf on plastics. In addition to the infamous Spot runnings in the fall salt waters, fishing enthusiasts also go after Flounder and Croaker, try to hook a Red, or catch a streak of Black Drum.

The spring season often sees big Cobia cruising our beach, while big bottom fish are also caught offshore. And, of course, Grouper is a popular seasonal catch. The King Mackerel often make their annual migration up the beach from down south and action can be close to shore or upwards to about 15+ miles offshore. Spanish Mackerel and sharks can keep both local and visiting fishermen busy on half-day near-shore excursions.

spanish mackerel holden beach

Early spring might take a bit more work for anglers to settle in on the perfect fishing spot with the chillier, windier days, but offshore efforts might include Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna, Dolphin and King Mackerel. Inshore anglers and surf fishermen hook up with an occasional Speckled Trout, Red Drum, Striped Bass, Black Drum, or Sheepshead.

Warm weather visitors (before ocean temps drop below 65 degrees) can be on the hunt for Speckled Trout, Flounder, King Mackerel, Cobia, Sea Mullet, Spots, sharks, Sheepshead, Ladyfish, Spadefish, and Pinfish, and, again, Black and Red Drum coasting past in the waves (great catches from the pier). Summertime is also a wonderful time to explore offshore wrecks in the vicinity if you’re in search of Sea Bass or Flounder, and don’t forget the Spanish Mackerel are often thick off the beach with the right bait hook. While here, keep your ears tuned and eyes peeled for updates about the Horseshoe area about 20 miles from the Lockwood Folly Inlet, where catches can include King Mackerel and Mahi. Local information is frequently updated for your planning purposes. 

speckled trout holden beach

And do you know what one of the coolestand “best kept secrets” (sshhhhh!) in our Atlantic waters is? Frying Pan Shoals and Tower (AKA “the Shoals” and “the Tower”) is located about 34 miles off shore. This former U.S. Coast Guard Frying Pan Light Station, a lighthouse in international waters, attracts folks to what is the southernmost end of the feared “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The Frying Pan Tower shoals normally hold ample King Mackerel with bait and water temperature around 70 degrees. Grouper, Sea Bass, Porgies and other bottom fish (and Bluefin Tuna during the winter months) are among other great catches in those waters, including the Fairway Ledge and the Cucumber.

Whether fishing for quality or quantity, everyone can hit it right on any given day. You know the best way to find out what to fish? Simply walk up to the fishermen with full buckets or coolers and ask what they’re using for bait. You’ll usually find they’re more than happy to offer their words of wisdom. Also, be sure to check the size and creel limits from the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and remember to apply for and purchase your saltwater fishing license. You can even find fishing summaries by NCDOMF.

Let the fishing begin!

holden beach fishing pier


 Boat ramps are located under and near the bridge.

 If you fish in the surf, please be courteous to those swimming and relaxing nearby.

 A North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required. Licenses are available from any DMF office, Wildlife Resource Commission (WRC) license agents (which includes most Wal-Mart stores), online at the WRC website, or by calling 888-248-6834. Locally, The Rod & Reel Shop at 3401 Holden Beach Rd. (on the Causeway) is a convenient location to purchase your fishing license. Folks can call the shop at 910-842-2034 for specifics.

 You may not land your powered boat anywhere along the oceanfront. Sailboards and small sailboats may temporarily land along the beach. Be careful of swimmers.

 Observe NO WAKE zones along the Intracoastal Waterway.