Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures in Sneads Ferry said the speckled trout and red drum have been biting in the creeks off the New River and Intracoastal Waterway, and if you’re in the right spot at the right time, the action can be downright hot.
“The New River and the creeks off of it are different than most other places,” Jernigan said. “Drum go up the creeks to find shallow flats that warm up in a lot of areas, but the trout do it too in the creeks off the New River. In most places, trout prefer deeper water.”
Jernigan (910-467-1482) said the creeks off the New River are shallow, and many places are covered in moss that is darker, holds heat better and will attract trout.
“Drum root through the creeks and tear up the moss,” Jernigan said. “When I find an area that is showing a lot of sand at this time of year, I know a school of drum has recently rooted through the moss in that area and won’t be too far away.”
Jernigan said red drum come to the darker-bottomed creeks, because they absorb sunshine and warm up. The slightly warmer water will maket what baitfish are left more active, and that will fire up the reds and trout.
“Fish love these creeks during the winter, and we have to concentrate on keeping baits above the moss or the hooks stay loaded up with it,” Jernigan said. “I like to throw scented soft plastics on 1/16- and 1/8-ounce jigheads.
“There is virtually no tidal current, so these light weights are plenty to sink the baits to the bottom but light enough they won’t fall real quick,” Jernigan said. “You have to be paying attention, because if you retrieve too slowly, you’ll moss up and not get strikes. However, if the fish are actively feeding, you can retrieve these pretty quickly, and it doesn’t seem to matter.”
Jernigan said specks and reds will hit soft plastics, and reds are also hitting gold spoons. He said weedless gold spoons in 1/8- and ¼-ounce sizes have been most productive because they flutter more than heavier spoons when they fall and are light enough to crawl across the top of the moss.
Jernigan said he has, on occasion, see trout in the clear water, but they won’t bite. When this happens, he breaks out popping corks and suspends scented plastics under them. It allows him to fish more slowly, and he can lightly rattle the cork and barely move the bait. Sometimes, when trout are finicky, this is the only way to get them to bite.