Capt. Rennie Clark of Carolina Beach said that topwater action on redfish and speckled trout has been good in the Cape Fear River between Carolina Beach and Bald Head Island, surprisingly so considering what the river looks like – dirty with runoff after a wet summer.

“I’m as surprised as anyone else, but I’m not complaining,” said Clark, who runs Tournament Trail Charters (910-465-8943). “We’re way on the plus side as far as rain this summer, and the weather men keep predicting more. The water hasn’t had a chance to clear up all summer, and I guess the fish have gotten used to it. I’m just really happy they are active and feeding like they are.”

Clark said the redfish bite is about as good as it’s been all summer, and the number of specks is increasing.

“We’re mainly throwing Skitterwalks to watch them blow up on topwater strikes,” said Clark, who has been using the SSW11 and the smaller SW8. “You have to beef up the SW 8 a little or you’ll lose a big fish when it matters. I add 50-pound Owner saltwater split rings and larger VMC Fishfighter and Sureset treble hooks (on the front and rear).”

Clark is upgrading the hooks and split rings on the SSW 11s also, but he’s going with a No. 2, 6x hooks. The larger and stronger hooks don’t affect the number of strikes but greatly reduce the number of fish that escape after straightening or breaking hooks.