Most fishermen don't think of the Albemarle and Croatan Sounds as hotspots for speckled trout and red drum, but Richard Andrews of Tar-Pam Guide Service knows differently and is leading his clients to nice specks and reds to over-slot size, plus a few striped bass and flounder just for variety.

"Our speckled trout fishing compares to anywhere in the state, and there isn't nearly as much competition for them," Andrews said. "There is lots of water to fish, too, and they have been biting from Currituck Sound to Oregon Inlet. The specks we have been catching lately are nice 17- to 21-inch fish."


Andrews (252-945-9715) said the key is to find moving water, which carries bait and attracts trout. He said the tidal influence of Oregon Inlet ends by Wanchese, and all the other water movement and current in Roanoke, Croatan and Albemarle Sounds is created by wind – and there is plenty of it. Winds from the south and west push water from Roanoke and Croatan sounds into Albemarle Sound, and winds from the north and east push water from Albemarle Sound into the smaller sounds.


Once you find moving water, the key is locating structure that trout use for ambush points. Bridge pilings are the most noticeable structure, but points, shoals, sand bars, sloughs, dock pilings and even pound-net stakes might break up the current enough to allow a few specks to hide.


"I have been having my best luck with Z-Man soft plastics and Gulp! shrimp under popping corks and throwing Z-Man Minnowz," Andrews said. "Popping corks are easy for anyone to use, especially clients with limited experience fishing for trout. They don't have to feel for subtle strikes; when the cork goes under, they set the hook and reel it in."


Natural colors have been most productive; Z-Man's "Houdini" and "bad shad" have been go-to colors, but he's gotten plenty of strikes on a light-pink jerkbait under a cork.


Andrews said he was also finding some nice upper- and over-slot red drum. One day this past week, he found a school of the big drum, but couldn't recognize their size until his fishermen caught a couple. Most were upper-slot fish, but some were over, and one big boy that took a popping cork bait was 35 inches plus.