With the trout fishery being closed because of the most recent freeze most are looking towards Reds to fill their fishing needs. That is what we will be focusing on in today's report. To start out with the tides are low, actually they are super low. Anglers in boats should seek the highest point of the tide to head out for reds. If your going via kayak higher points of the tide are highly recommend but not as essential as for boaters. As always the marshes behind Bear Island are holding good schools of fish this time of year. Searching the bays off the main channels are showing promising results. On calm days you can also head out the inlet and patrol down the island searching for schools in the surf. They have been spotted from Bear inlet all the way to the Pier. Fishing inside for them weedless rigs are gonna be key. Pair them with your favorite soft plastic and you should be in luck. Zman Paddlerz with a little Pro Cure tend to work for us.
Well, I wish we could say that we are off to a good start in 2018. We as people can control almost everything, but a few things are out of that realm, including Mother Nature. From New Years Day to the following Wednesday we saw near record low temperatures that dropped the water temp in our area down to almost freezing temps, with areas of the marsh, White Oak River, and local creeks starting to show bits of ice on them. By Wednesday Jan 3rd, Speckled Trout were already starting to show up dead and stunned in the White Oak in rather alarming numbers. And then came the snow. With areas here on the coast picking up 3"-6" of snow, followed by 4 days of temperatures well below the freezing line, no one was sure what was going to happen with our fishery. This past Monday through Wednesday when some anglers were able to get out and do some recon to asses the state of the fishery, and it hasn't been very pretty sight. Red Drum, Black Drum, Flounder, and Speckled Trout were littered everywhere. A lot of red drum did manage to find their way to the surf and avoid the freeze. The Department of Marine Fisheries has closed the harvest of Speckled Trout from January 5th to June 15th of this year. This means that commercially and recreationally it is illegal to transport or be found in possession of the specks within that time frame. You can still target the fish hook and line, in a catch and release capacity only. That being said and keeping into consideration the number of fish killed from this recent freeze, it is paramount that we all practice the best and safest fishing methods in the upcoming year. The best way to help our fishery recover from the wrath of mother nature is to be the best angler you can be. Practice good habits. This means anglers may want to consider taking extra care when handling fish, using circle hooks whenever possible, practicing catch and release, and not upgrading fish on a long day of catching. We might not be able to control the weather, but we can control what each of us does every time we decide to put our fishing caps on and step on the boat or bank.
Redfish - With water temps in the marsh barley breaking the mid 40's, and another bout of cold weather predicted for the upcoming week, anglers are going to want to look to the surf zone for their reds. Anglers have been connecting to reds everywhere from the Bogue Inlet Pier to Onslow Beach. The reds will be sitting in the rollers and in sloughs across the beaches in tight schools. Anglers will be looking to use heavier lead heads in the 1/4-1/2oz range to try and make long casts to meet the fish. Zoom, GULP!, and Z-Man baits are all winners, especially with Pro-Cure Bait Scents added to help the fish eat.
Black Drum - It is hard to say what the Black Drum bite will look like until we get a little further past this cold weather. Anglers should be looking in deep holes near the marshes and places that have heavy current over the next two weeks using small carolina and bottom rigs with small circle hooks as their rigs. Frozen shrimp will be the meal of choice for the black drum left in the area.
Hopefully after this next snap of cold we can start working to get back in the swing of it all. Keep tabs on the Pogie's Fishing Center FaceBook Page for the most recent updates. Also be Sure to stop by Pogie's Fishing Center in Downtown Swansboro to talk to our experienced staff and for the most current updates about the local fishery.
Trout - While the marshes and holes that hold fish in September and October still have plenty of fish, almost all of them are going to be spikes. the short trout have begun their invasion and will be found in plenty. The small fish are plenty fun to catch if you are looking to do just that, however anglers should turn their focus to the creeks and rivers if they plan on finding keeper class and larger trout. Mud Minnows fished on float corks and light line Carolina rigs are the best live bait options for the specks heading into winter. In the way of artificial, hard and soft baits both produce well when fished slow. Mirrolure 17MR and 18MR baits are hard to pass up for trout. Swim baits, Jerk baits, and slow sinking shrimp imitations work well on the soft side.
Black Drum - The same deep holes and creeks that are holding the trout are also starting to put up numbers of black drum. While the sizes of the black drum are usually small when caught as by catch from trout fishing, anglers using shrimp on light modified carolina rigs with fresh frozen shrimp will be able to catch them more effectively and begin to search for the target keeper size fish.
Red Drum - Not too much has changed on the Redfish front over the past month. Reds are schooling heavily across the barrier islands in the area. From the beach, anglers should be looking for sloughs in the surf and shoals that tend to be favorite areas for reds to sit. It is important to remember that most of the time reds are going to be in or just outside of the breakers on the beach. Making incredibly long casts on surf style combos might produce a few fish, but not consistent numbers. Wading out with a 7’6” to 8’6” spinning rod and casting down the beach until you find these schooling fish will produce the most quantity of reds. Using heavier jig heads and picking calmer days with north winds will help anglers put eyes on the fish as well as better and longer casts. Z-Man Minnowz in bright colors like white or pink are always surf candy for reds. The Z-Man baits are super durable and can withstand the abuse of surf fishing and multiple redsfish. Scenting the baits with procure saltwater inshore is a great way to help improve your number of strikes and hook ups. On the inshore side of things you can find smaller puppy drum hanging around the same structure and marsh areas as you would in the summer months. You also might find yourself a small school of them as the days keep cooling and the water temp falls.
Speckled Trout - The past two cold fronts have really had an influence on our water temperature and trout fishing. The marshes are starting to fill up with spike sized fish, with the occasional few nice coming out of the mix. Anglers should now be turning their focuses towards the rivers and creeks of the area. Live baits like mud minnows and shrimp continue to be great baits. Floating them these baits on slip corks, starting almost on bottom, then working your way up until you find the bite is the best way to fish them in a deep water column. This is also one of the best times of year to break out the artificials, especially the mirrolures. 18mr and 17mr baits are our favorites for this time of year. In an area with a lot of current 18mr baits are great, their weight helps them fall in your target area without getting swept. 17mr’s are a great from now on when the water temp is in the mid 50-60 range. Zoom Super Fluke baits, shrimp imitations, swim baits. The new Coastal Storm Shrimp and mirrolure soft plastics have been our go-to baits over the past week.
Red Drum - The surf is the name of the game right now. Reds are schooling heavily across the barrier islands of your area. From the beach, anglers should be looking for sloughs in the surf and shoals that tend to be favorite areas for reds to sit. It is important to remember that most of the time reds are going to be in or just outside of the breakers on the beach. Making incredibly long casts on surf style combos might produce a few fish, but not consistent numbers. Wading out with a 7’6” to 8’6” spinning rod and casting down the beach until you find these schooling fish will produce the most quantity of reds. Using heavier jig heads and picking calmer days with north winds will help anglers put eyes on the fish as well as better and longer casts. Z-Man Minnowz in bright colors like white or pink are always surf candy for reds. The Z-Man baits are super durable and can withstand the abuse of surf fishing and multiple redsfish. Scenting the baits with procure saltwater inshore is a great way to help improve your number of strikes and hook ups. On the inshore side of things you can find smaller puppy drum hanging around the same structure and marsh areas as you would in the summer months. You also might find yourself a small school of them as the days keep cooling and the water temp falls.
Flounder - Just about anywhere you try to catch a trout or redfish right now you will find a flounder. They are impossible to escape as a by-catch right now. If you plan to target them specifically, going a little heavier on your jig head size with a 3/16oz or 1/4oz will help put the bait on bottom and in front of the flat fishes mouth. Using a buck tail and fishing early and late segments of the rising and falling tides will give anglers the best number of fattys. Our best suggestion as a place to get this done would be to fish the docks down the ICW. Any sort of GULP! jerk shad, shrimp pattern, or swimming mullet on a jig head or buck tail will give anglers the right bait to tempt a flounder.
Black Drum - Black Drum are feeding in deep holes and around bridges. The deep holes that they are feeding in could be the holes in the marshes to holes in the rivers and creeks. Fish usually are schooling with the same general size of fish. So usually you can tell pretty quick the class of Black Drum you are in. Live shrimp on small scaled down Carolina rigs are the best bait for the larger Black Drum, but any size black Drum will also fall for frozen cut shrimp on a bottom rig.
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Trout- The bite is hot right now ( its actually more like on fire) everywhere from the inlets to up the rivers and creeks in the area. Live shrimp as always are a favorite when it comes to live bait. Soft plastic wise the Z-man trout tricks, Zoom jerk shads, Berkeley Gulp 4in shrimp have been doing the trick for us. 808 and Electric chicken color in Mirr O Lure have been getting the job done with the hard baits. Early morning top water bite has also been strong on Skitter Vs and Hedden Super Spooks. Our advice on targeting them is to find tide rips/drops offs to fish.
Redfish- Still can be found throughout the marsh and are currently schooling in the surf and some inside. Live mullet or Mud Minnows on Carolina rigs seem to be doing the trick. Can also be caught on a variety of soft plastics (Egret, Z Mann, and Berkeley). As with trout the early morning top water bite has been pretty good on schooling fish. Our advice for targeting them is fish the surf or really just pound the marshes and bays on the inside.
Flounder- Are being caught along the marshes while searching for Reds, are advice on targeting them is jigging the docks in the water way with bucktails or slow retrieving Carolina rigs with mud minnows or mullet down them.
Black Drum- Small ones being caught in deep holes up the white oak on frozen shrimp and bottom rigs.
Spots – Still can be found in the ICW on fish bites and bloodworms.