Capt. Jimmy Price at Southport’s Wildlife Bait and Tackle said that inshore fishing has been very good lately, despite stained water from runoff that’s been rolling down the Cape Fear River all spring.

“It sort of makes you wonder how good it might have been if there hadn’t been so much rain and the water had been clean. That’s an interesting thought,” he said.

Price said that because nearshore fishing for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, cobia and king mackerel has been excellent for about a month, the inshore fishing hasn’t gotten the respect it deserves. He said puppy drum and speckled trout have been biting all spring, with fishermen regularly as many as 20 puppy drum from a single spot, and plenty of specks caught and released before the June 15 re-opening of the season.

“It is really going to be interesting to see what people bring by the store to weigh for citations now that trout season has finally reopened,” Price said. “I’ve been hearing stories of 27- to 30-inch trout that were released while the season was closed. Those are big trout. Most trout will reach 5 pounds at approximately 25 to 26 inches. I want to hang some of the fish I’ve heard about on the scales and see what they weigh.”

Price (910-457-9903) said flounder fishing had gotten off to an early start; he’s already seen a surprising number of citation (5-pound) fish and has heard of a few 8- to 10-pound fish. 

Fishing success could be related to the amount of bait in inshore waters.

“We’re starting to see a lot of mullet minnows running through the marsh creeks, but they aren’t quite big enough to catch in a cast net,” Price said. “They’re growing fast and will be big enough is a few more weeks, but right now, our live- bait choices for flounder are mud minnows and peanut pogeys. Either of them fished on a Carolina rig should catch flounder, puppy drum and specks.”

Price said trout and puppy drum have been suckers for topwater baits, plus gold spoons, soft-plastic baits and Beetle Spins.

“Flounder and trout will hit Beetle Spins,” Price said. “I like to let them sink to the bottom and then pop it just off the bottom with my wrist and reel just fast enough to feel the blade turn. I can’t remember the number, but my favorite color is a copper body with an orange tail. I know firsthand it will catch trout and an occasional flounder in addition to puppy drum.”