Matt Lamb of Chasin’ Tail Outdoors in Atlantic Beach knows how far the temperatures have dropped over the past several weeks and how much snow and ice have come with those super-cold weather cells, but he also knows that fishermen have also continued to find fish that are willing to bite and they need lures, baits and terminal tackle from his store.
“We’re surprised but are happy the puppy drum continue to bite,” Lamb said Thursday. “They were biting the first afternoon the sun came out after the first couple of cold snaps, and we expect them to do it again after this one. We’re barely above freezing now, and the sky is still really gray and I’ve already heard some rumbling about them biting. I’ll bet that (Friday) when the sun comes out, they’ll be moving around and hungry.”
Lamb (252-240-3474) said the pups finally started to form into their usual big, winter schools a couple of weeks ago, but they scattered a little during the storms. They aren’t back in those schools of a hundred or more fish yet, but they’re likely to bite whenever and wherever you find them, and black drum have consistently been mixed in, hitting bait.
“Inside, you should find red drum in Core Creek, the Haystacks and other places with a similar combination of deeper channels and shallow flats,” Lamb said. “Some days, usually the colder days, they prefer the deeper water of the channels, and some days, usually the warmer and sunny days, they will move onto the shallow flats.
Lamb said a couple of schools of mixed drum have been moving in and out Beaufort Inlet around the Fort Macon rock jetty. These fish haven’t been predictable but have been worth chasing as some of the black drum are pretty big, and the red drum are almost all upper- and over-slot fish. They’ve been hitting live mud minnows, chunks of cut bait and pieces of bait shrimp.
“There are also some dogfish in the surf,” Lamb said. “They don’t get much respect, but they fight hard and a lot of people say they taste pretty good. I don’t know. I do know they will occasionally slip up close to the surf or the jetty at the inlet and take off with a bait intended for a drum.”
Lamb said redfish in inside waters have shown a preference for live mud minnows and smaller, scented soft-plastics, including Gulp! shrimp and minnow-imitations. He said the key to getting redfish to feed in the cold water is moving the bait very slowly and allowing the scent to get their attention. When the bait looks injured or otherwise slowed by the cold and smells good, it’s probably going to get eaten.