Think about freshwater gamefish that try to eat topwaters, soft-plastic lures and live baits: largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, bream and stripers, to name a few.

Now consider inshore saltwater fish that whack lures at the surface, in mid-depths or near the bottom. Hmmmm. 

Offhand, only two species shine: red drum and speckled trout.

In June, fishing along North Carolina’s central coast favor reds, as they feed whenever they find food.

Guide Rick Patterson of Cape Carteret (252-342-1513) likes a topwater bite triggered by white Zara Spooks, Spook Juniors or Zara Pups he works with a “walk-the-dog” wrist twitch.

“Spinnerbaits or popping corks with shrimp- or shad-pattern soft-plastic, Fluke-style lures can be good,” he said. “But I think walking lures do better on reds. They’re more aggressive in June once the schools have busted up.” 

Redfish vary from 18 inches to mid-slot to over-slot fish. Anglers may keep one per day between 18 and 27 inches in length.

“A finger mullet or mud minnow on a Carolina rig are good live baits for reds,” he said.

Guide Jot Owens of Wrightsville Beach looks for reds around underwater structure.

“They’ll be at creeks, oyster rocks and marsh grass lines in 1 to 3 feet of water early and late on cloudy days,” said Owens (910-233-4139), who fishes MirrOlure TopDog Juniors or TopPups.

Guide Joe Ward (252-229-4656) spends June fishing for reds in the Neuse River east of Oriental in Turnagain and West bays.

“I like Super Flukes or white Gulp shrimp at shoreline marsh grass edges, twitch a lure and let it drop into deeper water,” he said. “Zara Spooks, Skitterwalks and Chug Bugs will catch ’em on top. With a little ripple on the water, I like a Chug Bug.”

Guide Robbie Hall of Swansboro (910-330-6999) said redfish scatter after they move inside, but the surface bite may sizzle.

“I like a Rapala gold mullet Skitterwalk with a black back,” he said, “but I’ll also use Zara Spooks, TopDogs and TopPups.”

Hall’s tackle includes 7-foot Fenwick rods, 3000 to 4000 series FinNor reels backed by 20-pound braid and 2 feet of 25-pound  fluorocarbon leader..

“Fluorocarbon that big will handle marsh grass,” he said. “It’s tough.”