Speckled trout came to New Bern as an early Christmas present, but fishermen are still upwrapping them through the first handful of days after the new year.

Capt. Joe Ward of Flydaddy Charters said speckled trout fishing the past several weeks has been phenomenal, and a few stripers have added to the fun. 

“The trout first showed in the NeuseRiver around the first of December, and then they moved into the Trent River,” said Ward (252-229-4656). “The stripers might move up onto the flats, but the trout are staying in deeper water. Right now, I am finding trout best in water at least 10 feet deep and down to about 17 to 18 feet. They may move from day to day, but the deep holes are where you’ll find them. 

“Moving water is another key too,” Ward said. “We are far enough up the river there isn’t any lunar tide, so we rely on the wind to move water up and down the river. The trout don’t bite unless the water is moving, but when it is moving, they are usually feeding.” 

Ward said trout are readily responding to lures, but stripers are not as eager to hit artificials and are being caught more often on live eels and cut bait fished on the bottom. 

“I prefer to fish artificials, so it works out for me to go after trout,” Ward said. “I have been using the small Yo-Zuri ceep-diving lures and 5-inch Zoom Super Flukes on 1/8-ounce jigheads, and they readily hit both. While some fishermen like to troll the Yo-Zuris, we cast and retrieve them. My last trip, we kept three limits of trout all over 20 inches. We also released a bunch more.” 

Ward is positioning his boat just off of the hole he plans to fish, then casts towards the shallow water and works the bait down the drop. His retrieve is fairly slow, with an occasional twitch to bounce the bait up off the bottom and get the trout’s attention. 

“The water is cold, and the bites are just light tics,” Ward said. “If you feel two tics, you might as well keep fishing. He has picked the bait up and spit it out. You have to be ready and set the hook as soon as you feel that tic. The good thing is there are lots of trout, so if you miss a strike or two there are more to help learn how to do it.”