Capt. Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters said there are some schools and scattered redfish and speckled trout biting in the marshes and creeks between the Shallotte River and the South Carolina state line, despite plenty of dirty, discolored water from runoff.
"The unusualness of this winter isn't helping with fishing, and on some days it gives them lockjaw in some places, but most days we've been able to find some fish that are hungry and will bite," Stacy said. "The rain has everything dirty, and we can't see them as well as we usually can, but there are fish in many of the places we usually find them. We have also found some fish in different places this winter. I believe it's the dirty water moving fish around, and I have found some in a little deeper water than usual. It's not real deep, but deep enough they don't make wakes moving around and that makes them hard to locate."
Stacy (910-279-0119) occasionally finds redfish in very shallow water, but they are sunning and not feeding. They have been biting in knee- to shoulder-deep water, and finding them has been a matter of going to spots you have found them before and making a few casts. When you find them, he said, they will usually bite pretty well, especially during the afternoons when they have warmed up a little.
"I've been having the best luck all around fishing the smaller-size Vudu Shrimp," Stacy said. "Reds eat it well, specks hit it pretty well, and some black drum occasionally hit it, too. What I have found works best right now is to fish it extremely slow. I cast it upcurrent and barely twitch the rod to let the current push it along. Sometimes the strikes are subtle, and you miss a few wondering if it was actually a strike and sometimes they hammer it, but that is mainly the drum. This fishing is a sales pitch for using a braided line to feel the light strikes."
Stacy said trout are mostly in 3 to 6 feet of water, but occasionally they follow feeding drum shallower. He said there are some holes in the Shallotte River and Calabash Creek that seem to be holding trout pretty consistently, plus deeper spots in the many creeks that wander through the marsh, and there are often some trout holding somewhere around the pilings and bulkheads of the Ocean Isle and Sunset Beach Bridges. Stacy said the trout occasionally prefer mud minnows to Vudu Shrimp, and if there is a black drum around, it will readily gulp down the mud minnows. He said he fishes mud minnows on the bottom on either a light Carolina rig, a split-shot rig or a jig head.