Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow Minded Guide Service said the mild winter has led to an excellent black drum bite, plus some early spring specks and redfish leaving the inner marsh early in the lower reaches of Brunswick County.

"The rainy days of the past few weeks have put the bite off a little at times, but it seems we're coming out of the winter a little early," Dickson said. "With our second mild winter in a row, there are fish in the marshes and creeks off the Intracoastal Waterway around Sunset Beach, and they are hungry and feeding. We're seeing good catches of black drum, and speckled trout."

Dickson, said one unique trait of the area was all the black drum holding around the Sunset Beach Bridge. This bridge is only a couple of years old and already the black drum have found it. The old Sunset Beach Bridge also held some black drum, but was an excellent go-to spot for speckled trout. Anglers are catching a few specks around the new bridge, but black drum are there in numbers.

"The bridge is still a go-to spot, but the species has changed," said Dickson (843-458-3055). "The old bridge held specks, black drum and a few flounder. The black drum have moved to the new bridge, but the specks and flounder have been slow finding it. There are a bunch of pound to 2-pound black drum there now, and they aren't the least bit bashful about biting."

Dickson said the black drum would occasionally hit a soft plastic, but what they really want is a piece of shrimp fished on the bottom. They are biting shrimp fished on jigheads, Carolina rigs and even on double-drop bottom rigs. 


"We've got some early speckled trout too, but they are looking for water that's a little warmer," Dickson said. "They aren't huge, but most are running 16 to 20 inches, and they are fun to catch. Some days they like soft baits and some days they like MirrOlures, but they usually can be coaxed into biting and the bite gets better on the second or third day of sunny weather." 


Dickson said the hot spot for the specks has been in the slow-moving water in holes in the creeks and in some of the marinas. One of the marinas most of the locals always check is Coquina Harbor, even though it is a couple of miles across the border in South Carolina and requires a South Carolina license.


Coquina Harbor is a former coquina mine that was partially filled in and then flooded. It now houses three marinas.  Dickson said there are several deep holes in Coquina Harbor that the trout really like and on the second or third sunny day after a front, they might move up to the rip-rap around the entrance.