Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow Minded Guide Service said fish in the creeks behind the barrier islands along North Carolina’s southernmost coast have been hungry and feeding, even after several days of cold weather.

“There have been a couple of days it took a while to locate the fish, but when we found them, they were ready to eat,” Dickson said. “Some of the cold snaps have put them off a little, but as soon as the weather began to warm, they were feeding again. I’ve never seen it quite like this year. We’ve been killing the trout, and there are good numbers of reds too.

“We even still have flounder biting,” Dickson said. “Most of them are shorts, but for the past several weeks, almost all of my charters has released or carried home at least one keeper.”

Dickson (843-458-3055) said there are red drum and speckled trout in the CalabashRiver, along the Intracoastal Waterway and scattered through the creeks behind Ocean Isle, SunsetBeach and Bird Island. Some nice trout are mixed in with large numbers of smaller specks. Dickson also said the red drum had not gathered in large schools yet. He said there were smaller schools in lots of places and they were still separated by size. When they get into their winter schools in this area, the sizes are mixed.      

One of the keys to catching trout for Dickson has been finding warmer areas; it only takes a degree or two, but it is critical. He said a warmer spot – and sometimes several – can be found in bays without strong currents. Marinas fit this description, and some nice trout have been caught in marinas that are in basins. 

Dickson said redfish are sticking more to pockets and holes in the marsh creeks. Some are still roaming the waterway and the Calabash River, but as the water cools a little more, they retreat to those warm spots in the marsh. He suggested fishing around low tides and looking for obvious spots.

“I have been doing a lot of fly-fishing lately, and it has been fun,” Dickson said. “Unfortunately, the water isn’t clear enough to sight-cast, but once we locate a school of trout, we’ve been casting to the spot using Clousers on intermediate line and doing well.” 

Dickson has been using suspending MirrOlures, D.O.A. shrimp, Vudu shrimp and Gulp! swimming mullet to locate the trout and for his charters that prefer to fish spinning tackle. He said it is imperative to fish the soft baits on eighth-ounce jigheads so they flutter down and don’t sink too quickly. White, chartreuse and variations had been the best colors for the plastics and the 808 color for MirrOlures.