Capt. Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters said inshore fishing in southern Brunswick County has been pretty good this week, and most fishermen are finding limits of nice fish, especially speckled trout.

“The weather is trying to stay around normal, and whatever is happening in the water, the fish seem to like it,” Stacy said. “The water temperature has been in the mid-50s, and that hasn’t bothered the fish much. The larger trout are slowing down a little, but they are still feeding; they just aren’t fighting as hard as they were a few weeks ago.”

Stacy (910-279-0119) said the fall trout bite has been excellent, and one reason could be the season closure between early February and June 15 after a freeze in northeastern North Carolina killed lots of specks. Most trout along the southern part of the coast survived, however, and those that were barely keepers last year are nice fish this year. Another bonus is they were able to spawn several times before the season opened, so there should be another big year class following these fish.

“We have been seeing nice-sized trout all fall,” Stacy said. “There have been a lot of 2- to 4-pounders and enough citation-sized (5-pound minimum) specks, it was a reasonable expectation to have a shot at one on almost any fishing trip. 

“Now, we are starting to see some spikes come into the mix,” Stacy said. “They are feeding hard and are much more aggressive than most of the larger trout as the cooler water temperatures affect the larger trout more. Thankfully, the action is still real good, and we can pick through the shorts and barely legal fish to take home limits of nice specks.”

Stacy has been fishing live shrimp when he can get them and he definitely got more bites and caught more fish fishing them under corks, allowing them to drift across holes where trout were holding. He said trout are gathering around bridges, along oyster rocks in the creeks and in the Calabash and Shallotte rivers and along the jetties at Little River Inlet.

When live shrimp aren’t available, Stacy had been fishing a mixture of Vudu Shrimp and Gulp! bait along the bottom, allowing the current to push them and twitching them up off the bottom to get the attention of the fish.

“There are also good numbers of red drum around and even a few late flounder,” Stacy said. “Drum are just beginning to school in the rivers and in the marsh, and they are competing for food. It doesn’t matter if it is live bait, dead bait or soft plastics, the drum will hit just about anything you cast at them.”

Stacy said the drum tend to be on flats or bars in the marsh and rivers and are shallower than the trout.