December has arrived, water temperatures have finally dipped, and right on schedule, redfish have turned aggressive, attacking baits in their winter lagoons around Little River

Capt.  Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters said reds have finally shifted into their shallow-water, winter patterns.

“The water temperatures are finally below 58 degrees inside, and the fish are biting real well,” says Stacy (910-279-0119). “When the water gets cold, the various size classes mix and make big schools in the creeks.”

With baitfish and shrimp evacuated from the estuaries, redfish become prime fare for dolphins, which have little else to eat. Reds and any available bait survive by moving to the headquarters of small, tidal creeks well away from marine predators and fishermen who aren’t in shallow-draft boats.

“From the last two hours of the fall to the first two hours of the incoming (tide), the rise confines the fish to deeper pools,” Stacy said.

However, fishermen looking to find a big group of fish in last year’s honey hole may get disappointed.  

“They don’t always shack up in the same creeks from year to year,” Stacy said. “Scout out different creeks until you find them. Start at the back of the creeks on the falling tide and work your way towards the mouth.”

Fish may not be too far from their last year’s location, even in the same creek. Scouting and casting into deeper pools will reward anglers with patience.

After a school of fish is found, getting these fish to bite is not much of a challenge with live minnows, shrimp or any one of the Gulp! lures, according to Stacy. With winter rolling in, redfish are looking for lots of energy to sustain them, and that’s what’s making the bite about as strong as it will get.   

“The Gulp! Mantis Shrimp is my favorite, but any of the Gulp! lures will bring fish in the boat,” he said.