Capt. Rick Bennett of Wrightsville Beach said fishing in his neck of the woods is pretty good right now as long as you’ve got live bait – and it's about to get a whole lot better.

“If you go to the inlets or ocean beach, you will see that the finger mullets are already streaming down the beach,” said Bennett, who operates Rod-Man Custom Rods and Charters. “Some of those early migrators get a free pass, but as soon as the water cools a few more degrees, there will be a lot of fish keyed in on them and right off the beach feeding. That’s the great fall fishing we all know about, and it’s about to begin. Right now though, the water is still hot and we’re at the end of the summer and the fish aren’t aggressive.” 

Bennett (910-520-7661) said he likes to concentrate on docks along the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks mouths and inlets for flounder and redfish. The fishing is simple, he said; just use a Carolina rig baited with a live finger mullet and stay ready.  

“Some fishermen like to use shrimp, and there is no doubt fish like them,” Bennett said. “However, every bait thief around will attack shrimp, and you spend a lot of time replacing baits, and you can’t catch anything while you don’t have baits in the water. I like mullet minnows because they last longer, and the fish you are after readily eat them, too.”

Bennett said live bait also works well in the ocean.  Flounder on many of the nearshore rocks and artificial reefs will readily eat mullet minnows, and large red drum, tarpon and other species have been caught on finger mullet intended for ocean flounder.

Spanish mackerel may be the live-bait “exception” according to Bennett. They will readily hit finger mullet suspended under a float or balloon and can be a welcome addition when anchored and flounder fishing in the ocean. However, they will also readily hit a variety of spoons and lures that can be trolled and cover more area.