Capt. Ricky Kellum of Jacksonville said fish are biting in the New River and the creeks that feed it, and he said with several days of sunshine and warm temperatures predicted, the fishing should improve – and it is already pretty good.

Kellum, of Jacksonville Speckled Specialist Inshore Fishing Charters, said good numbers of red drum are feeding in the creeks and bays. Speckled trout are around, he said, but whenever a hard rain muddies the water, they shut down until it clears.

One of the most-popular places to catch reds has been Southwest Creek, and Kellum said it’s been crowded enough on several recent days that he’s gone elsewhere. Even better, he’s found fish in several other, less-crowded creeks.

“Most of the creeks have a shelf that runs out about six feet or so from the edge and then drops off,” said Kellum (910-330-2745). “The red drum are typically up on this shelf, while the trout are in the deeper water beyond the drop-off. If you want to concentrate on drum – and there are lots of them in all sizes – the shelf is where you want to concentrate your fishing. Many times, drum will be holding in the edge of tops of trees that have fallen over into the creek.”

Kellum said for trout have been in the deeper parts of the creeks, where the bait is holding, the past several weeks. 

“It’s hard to believe, but there is a lot of bait in the creeks off the river,” he said. “It is easy to find on your fish-finder, and sometimes it might be as much as three feet thick. The bait is a mixture of finger mullet, menhaden, little spots and little croakers, and they are holding right on the bottom. With that much food, the trout aren’t going anywhere else. There are some larger trout in the mix, but lots of smaller trout have moved in, and they are more aggressive, so you have to weed through them to catch the larger ones.”

Kellum has been catching both species on a scented 5-inch Salty Bay jerk shad fished on a 3/16-ounce jighead; fish have been hitting it while it’s resting on the bottom. The light jig allows it to sink slowly, fluttering down to the bottom. Kellum likes to twitch it across the bottom, occasionally bouncing it and occasionally pausing it.