Richard Andrews of Tar-Pam Guide Service in Bath said fish in the Pamlico River have settled into late fall-early winter patterns, with speckled trout and stripers the primary catches, but some redfish and a few late flounder being caught also.
“Stripers are active in the upper Pamlico around Washington,” Andrews said. “They are feeding pretty seriously, and we have been catching them on topwaters and crankbaits. When they are up on the flats and near the banks feeding, a topwater lure is a lot of fun to catch them. They may miss it, and that makes them even more determined to get it the next try. Their strikes can be explosive.”
Andrews likes the action and sound of a Super Spook Jr for his go-to topwater lure, worked at a steady, medium retrieve speed.
When stripers aren’t in the shallows, Andrews (252-945-9715) said they are on breaks and ledges, and he’ll switch to a crankbait to get to them.
Andrews cautioned fishermen that regulations change at most creek mouths and above the US 17 Business bridge, where the Pamlico River becomes the Tar River. Fishermen in the Pamlico can keep two stripers per day, with an 18-inch size minimum. Fishermen in Inland and Joint Waters – most creeks and the Tar River – there is also a prohibited slot from 22 to 27 inches. Maps of the Striped Bass Management Areas and the Coastal, Joint and Inland Water boundaries can be found at www.ncdmf.net and www.ncwildlife.org.
“With the water cooling, trout in the lower and mid-Pamlico and its tributaries are getting into their winter mode,” Andrews said. “We have already seen a few cold mornings where the water was in the low 50s. The water has also cleared up a lot from the summer and early fall and it is helping the fishing.
"There are lots of 16- to 18-inch trout and some occasional big ones,” Andrews said. “The fishing isn’t unbelievable, but it’s pretty darn good. You never want to say fishing is easy, because it can change really quickly, but most fishermen have been able to catch their limits and release a few more.”
Trout have been hitting hard lures and soft plastics, with the suspending MirrOLure MR 17 very productive, especially the Mardi Gras Trout color (C17MRMGTR) in the Clear Eyes Pro Series. Andrews uses lures with silver sides in clear water and gold sides in tannic or stained water. As far as soft plastics, he’s catching trout on a Z-Man MinnowZ and DieZel MinnowZ in shad color, which closely resembles the baitfish trout are finding in creeks.