Capt. Rick Patterson of Cape Crusader Charters said he has been holding his breath, worried that the redfish might move or change their habits, but fortunately that hasn't happened so far.
"The fish are biting, and when you find them, it is game on," said Patterson (252-342-1513). "We are catching some trout and flounder, but redfish are the star of the show. They are stacked up in the bays, competing for food. They will hit just about anything thrown at them, but when they are competing for food like this, it's time to throw some topwaters."
Patterson said reds are in bays from Camp Lejeune to the Newport River, especially those holding a lot of bait. Swimming mullet is one thing, but mullet being pushed and rushed by fish is another. When he doesn't see bait, he's looking for bays being fed by small creeks, bays with oyster rocks. Oysters or water flow is almost as important as seeing bait.
"When the reds are like this, I like to throw topwater lures," Patterson said. "I think it's exciting when a big red blows up on a bait and sends water everywhere. Most of my clients do too, especially after they've experienced it. Even the beginners shorten their learning curve when the fish cooperate, and they are cooperating right now."
Patterson said the reds will hit soft baits and spinnerbaits, but he really likes the excitement of topwater fishing. His favorite lure is a MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. with an orange or chartreuse belly, which he fishes slowly and steadily along the edges of the oyster rocks or beside milling bait. If trout are in the area, you can often tempt them by occasionally pausing during the retrieve. That's not necessary with redfish, as they will charge right in.
"Redfish sometimes miss, so don't stop working the lure until you feel the fish," Patterson said. "Once you feel it, you can set the hook. Many people get excited seeing the fish charge the lure and try to set the hook before the fish has it. If you can't feel the fish, you can't set the hook."