It’s that time of year when just getting on the water and making a few casts can make an angler feel like Midas turning everything to gold. Inshore anglers have been feeling that for the past week or so up and down the coasts of both Carolinas. If you’re not fishing right now, then you’re missing out.
Redfish, flounder, black drum, sheepshead — they’re all biting, and even the speckled trout, which North Carolina anglers are not currently allowed to keep, and South Carolina anglers are encouraged to release, are biting in good numbers too.
Using mud minnows, live shrimp, and cut bait are all good options right now, and the bite has been strongest on a moving tide. On some days, it’s been the incoming tide that’s hottest, and on other days, it’s the outgoing tide that’s best. But either one is better than fishing at slack tide.
Fiddler crabs are working well for sheepshead around wooden pilings, downed timber, rock walls, and shelly banks, but these skilled bait thieves are also biting oyster meat and small clams still in the shell. Catching them with artificial crabs like the Cranka Crab is also catching on throughout the Carolinas.
At low tide, many anglers are reporting finding large numbers of trout, redfish, and flounder packed together in very small holes with lots of current. These three fish are all biting mud minnows the best, and tossing a piece of cut shrimp into these same holes will also catch black drum. The trick is finding the narrowest part of a creek with moving water and working it hard throughout the low tide cycle. Even if you think it’s too small to hold many fish, give it a try and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Medium rods, 15-pound test line, 2000-series spinning reels, and a No. 3 hook or a jighead, some bait, and you’re all set.
Artificial lures like Z-Man Trout Tricks, D.O.A. shrimp, and soft plastic grubs are also working well.
With the spring weather seemingly stabilized, the hot bite should continue for several weeks, but it’s definitely on right now, so don’t wait too long before getting on the water. The water temps are just right, but will warm quickly as summer approaches.