Inshore fishing in the Southport area has taken a big turn for the better over the past 10 days or so, with redfish and flounder getting most of the attention, according to Capt. Tommy Rickman at The Tackle Box.

“The inshore fishing has really gotten good in the past two weeks,” Rickman said. “Our water has been nasty from all the runoff since the late spring. It still isn’t clean, but it has gotten better, and I guess the fish are getting used to it.” 

Rickman (866-395-FISH) said the redfish and flounder have been biting from the bays off the rivers to deep in the creeks. The summer hadn’t been as hot as usual, and the past two weekends have brought weak cold fronts that didn’t mess up the weather, but kept things cool. 

“I don’t know if this increase in action is from those cold fronts or not, but I’m not complaining,” Rickman said. “I know those fronts stirred up some of the baitfish, because they are moving out the creeks to the inlets and heading south down the beach. Maybe all the bait moving about is what fired the fish up, but whatever it is a lot of fishermen are happy.”

The redfish fed all last week and began this week hungry. They fed on the rising tide, then moved into the flooded marsh on the full-moon high tides and continued to feed while moving out of the marsh on the falling tide. Some flounder were mixed with them in the creeks, and there have also been enough speckled trout to make it interesting. The fish have been holding on points, along oyster rocks and in the mouths of creeks where the tidal current concentrates baitfish and shrimp. 

Rickman believes in live bait and considers it a mistake if he leaves the dock with less than 10-dozen shrimp. If they aren’t available, he’ll substitute mullet or mud minnows.

“I’m usually trying to produce fish for clients in a small time window,” Rickman said. “I like to fish live shrimp suspended under an adjustable float. A squirming, live shrimp is something few fish can refuse. The adjustable float makes it easy to change the depth when switching fishing spots and casts so much better than a fixed float, especially when the float is set higher on the line for deeper water.”

Rickman likes to fish his bait as close to the bottom as possible without hanging up. He casts upcurrent of the spot he thinks the fish are occupying and lets the bait drift through the target area with the tide. This is natural movement and puts the bait in the zone for reds, specks and flounder.

Rickman said the issue with using shrimp is that pinfish and other bait thieves love them, too. When the bait thieves start pecking at your bait as soon as it hits the water, try moving it off the bottom before giving up on that spot. Sometimes raising the bait off the bottom as little as a foot to 18 inches is enough to get it out of the bait thieves’ line of sight, while the reds and trout can still find it.