Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures said the cooler than normal weather has changed the habits of fish on the New River and ICW between Surf City and Swansboro, but there are still some red drum, speckled trout and even a few early flounder that are biting in the waters around Sneads Ferry.

The fish, he said, have been trying to move out of the backwaters for a few weeks, but cooler water has kept them there. He is finding most of his fish in said shallow bays and creeks, but he expects them to move closer to the river and waterway as soon as we have a couple of weeks of warm weather.

"Some days finding the fish has been the easy part," Jernigan said. "Even though the water is still cold, there has been enough sunlight the bottom growth is going strong and anything that get down to the bottom is grassing up. We might get a few bites under a cork, but the fish really aren't quite active enough for that to be the main way to fish. The problem comes back to being able to present a bait the fish can see."

Jernigan (910-467-1482) said he had gone to very light jigheads to be able to keep baits above the grass without having to move them too quickly. He fishes mostly 1/8-ounce heads, but he steps up to ¼-ounce in deeper water or heavier current.


Jernigan likes Hackberry Hustlers for his redfish baits and Flats Minnows and Trout Killers for specks and flounder. His favorite colors are opening night, glow gleax, LSU and white/chartreuse tail. He also treats his baits with Pro Cure Scents, which often help when lethargic fish are involved.


Jernigan said that for the past week or so, the redfish had been so shallow and in areas with grass that almost every one had grass hanging off them and the line. He said he would be glad when the water warms a handful of degrees and he can fish faster, which helps keep the bait above the grass where the fish can see it.


"We also have some speckled trout and a few flounder in the creeks too," Jernigan said. "Many times, trout are in the same creeks as the reds, but just a little ways away in deeper water. The reds will feed in shallow water, like barely covering their backs, and especially so on sunny days. Trout will come shallow at times to feed, but most of the time they like to lay along the drop where the flat rolls over into a channel or hole. Flounder, and an occasional black drum too, may be mixed with either the reds or the specks.


"We're actually pretty fortunate," Jernigan said. "Even though winter won't go away and the water is colder than it should be, we've got enough redfish and trout around that catching a mess for dinner hasn't been a big problem."