Inshore fishing is already in fall form in the waters from the Shallotte River to Little River Inlet. Fishermen are catching red drum, black drum, flounder and trout – and that's about as good as it gets.

"We have had a great summer and it is shaping up to be a great fall too," said Capt Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters. "There are lots of red drum around, and the size range runs from about 15 inches to 30 inches plus. They are one of our staples here."


Stacy (910-279-0119 said the red drum bite had been very dependable, especially for fishermen who prefer to use live bait. He said there were lots of finger mullet running through the marshes and out the inlets and everything is feeding on them. He suggested a Carolina rig baited with a live finger mullet and a little bit of patience for reds, which are scattered through the marsh and in most of the creeks.


"We are also catching a lot of flounder," Stacy said. "There are flounder in the creeks and inlets, but I like to fish the artificial reefs just off the beaches from Shallotte Inlet to Little River Inlet. When I head to the reefs, I still use a Carolina rig, but go to an ounce or slightly heavier sinker and use the largest finger mullet I can find. I like those four to five inchers for flounder at the reefs. You have to give the flounder a little time to eat the larger bait, but you also catch some larger flounder."


Stacy said there are a good number of summer speckled trout being caught – mostly smaller ones in the creeks but larger ones around high-rise bridges at Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach and along the jetties at Little River Inlet.


The premium bait for specks is live shrimp, according to Stacy, fished on a float rig with a split-shot crimped on the leader about six inches above the shrimp to get it down through the bait thieves to the trout. Some nice black drum are hitting in the same areas as the trout, and they like trout every bit as much as trout.


Stacy said fishermen need to be careful when they fish behind Sunset Beach and Bird Island because of the proximity to the South Carolina border. You can fish both states in the same creek as it wanders through the marsh. Stacy makes sure his charters don't keep any fish or number of fish that aren't legal in both states.