Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow Minded Guide Service said fishing the Ocean Isle/Sunset Beach area has been steady and surprisingly good despite the cold weather. He reported no cold-stun kills of trout on his end of the state and said that fishing picked back up over the weekend and has continued this week. With continued warming toward the weekend, he feels like the fishing will improve even more.

“I know we were fortunate with the weather,” Dickson said. “However, it seems to have made the fish hungrier. When we started getting out on the water last Friday, there were fish feeding in the same places they had been before the ice storm.”

Dickson (843-458-3055) said the primary fish in his catches have been red drum and black drum, but there had also been speckled trout in many spots. It’s illegal to keep trout in North Carolina waters, but Dickson said he anticipates releasing some specks most days.

“A fisherman who is willing to wait for the right stage of the tide could come to southern Brunswick County and fish the high rise bridges and catch fish right now,” Dickson said. “If you put in the time to cover the entire tide, fishing by the bridge pilings and bumpers, you might catch limits every day. I think the fishing at the Sunset Beach bridge might be a little better, but there are reds, black drum, specks, sheepshead and even an occasional flounder at the Ocean Isle bridge, too. Then there are drum and trout scattered through the pockets in the marsh behind Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach and in the holes and on the flats in the Calabash and Shallotte rivers for those willing to search a little more.”

Dickson said while fishing was surprisingly good, fish aren’t feeding with abandon, so a little scent on your lure might produce an extra bite or two. He has been fishing a lot of soft plastics and suggests occasionally pausing in your retrieve and letting them sit on the bottom in a dead-stick mode. He said fish will also hit pieces of shrimp fished on a Carolina rig or a double-drop bottom rig. They will also pick up fresh cut bait. Another plus for fishing around the bridges during the winter is that traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway is low, and you aren’t constantly being rocked by the wakes of passing boats.