Red drum bite in the creeks of southern Brunswick County all year, but Capt. Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters in Ocean Isle said they are starting to warm up and feed more aggressively. 

Stacy has been taking advantage of reds’ sense of smell recently, using cut chunks of finger mullet he caught last fall and froze and starting his trips at low tide when fish are in holes and deeper sections of marsh creeks.

“The water isn’t warm yet but is warming, and they are moving from the backs of creeks out toward the mouths,” said Stacy (910-279-0119). “Mullet are oily, and the scent will move with the tide. Bait thieves picking at the baits will help get this going, too.”

Stacy has caught several reds dropping his baits – which are threaded onto small circle hooks – by casting them between oyster rocks along creek runs. As the tide rises, Stacy has been moving back deeper into the backs of creeks as reds have moved up into the areas newly covered with water.

Some dynamics that exist make this area unique, according to Stacy. The Shallotte and Calabash rivers introduce a little freshwater into the area, and on the ocean side, three inlets feed clean, saltwater with every rising tide. Tubbs Inlet, between Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach, and Little River Inlet, on the west end, have flow directly into the marshes, while Shallotte Inlet, on the east end, flows to the Intracoastal Waterway before dispersing. Stacy believes the exchange of water, which is usually carrying bait, is a big part of what attracts fish to the area.

“We are fortunate to have a variety of fish throughout the year,” Stacy said. “Red drum are the draw during the winter and early spring, but speckled trout and black drum are also here in some numbers all year, even this year with all the extreme cold weather. Even though we occasionally catch a few flounder mixed with the reds during the winter, they are really only here during the warmer months.”