While he admitted the number of fish and the intensity of the action were unusual, Capt. Joey VanDyke of Fingeance Sportfishing Charters isn’t complaining about a late February/early March abundance of upper-slot red drum in the bays and creeks along the mainland Dare County shores of Pamlico Sound.  

“The red drum are spread from Stumpy Point up to Manns Harbor along the western bank of the sound,” VanDyke said. “There aren’t any big bays like that in the sound around Swan Quarter, but the drum are cruising the banks and points and are up in the couple of creeks and in the grass beds. One of the landmarks to locate them has been duck blinds.”

VanDyke (252-475-0402) said good red drum fishing was good around Oregon Inlet and along the ocean beaches near the inlet earlier in the winter, and it appears those drum have moved back through the inlet and gone across the upper reaches of the sound to the marshes on the western side. He has checked the stomachs of several fish kept on recent trips, and they were full of small crabs. VanDyke said the drum are actively feeding, and when a school is located, it isn’t a problem convincing them to bite.

“What makes this so special is the water is as clear as it ever gets, and you can sight-fish these drum,” Van Dyke said. “When the water cools in the winter, the suspended sediment drops out, and unless the wind is blowing and stirs up an area, it is almost like looking into an aquarium at times. The fish are feeding hard and aren’t real spooky, either. My boat has a tower, which makes fish in the clear water even more visible, and there are times I’ll see them all around the boat.”

VanDyke said some scattered stump beds along the edge of the sound and have been holding stripers, which are a welcome addition to the catch. Some nice speckled trout are being caught, but it’s a catch-and-release fishery until June 15.

Public ramps at Stumpy Point and Manns Harbor two of just a few in the area. They’re about 15 miles apart, but it isn’t taking very long from either ramp to find fish.

“It’s really pretty simple fishing,” VanDyke said. “I’ve been catching these reds, the trout and the few incidental stripers, on white Gulp! Shrimp. I like the 3-inch size the best, but also have luck with the four inch ones. I fish them on ¼- and 3/8-ounce Mission Fishin’ jigheads. There aren’t tidal currents in these areas and the lighter jigheads take the baits to the bottom just fine without sinking too quickly. They also don’t make a big splash and spook the fish when they land.”