A deluge of runoff has made the Cape Fear River a smorgasbord for inshore fishermen, with Capt. Rennie Clark of Carolina Beach having a recent catch of red drum, stripers, a keeper flounder and a largemouth bass near Snow’s Cut.

"The water is slowly warming, and we've definitely got some fish around," said Clark (910-465-8943). "The water is cold enough (that) they are moving slow, and most of the action downriver from Wilmington is reds. But there are a few trout, some stripers and even an occasional flounder. However, the water is still cool enough they might be up on the flats one day and holding in deeper water the next."

Clark, who runs Tournament Trail Charters, has been spotting reds on the flats along the edge of the river for a few weeks, with most schools being smaller. He said because of some negative tides, some of the creeks have been nearly dry, and more fish have been pushed into open water where they’re easier to find.

"We've had some reds and trout all winter, but up until last week they were really lethargic and had to be coaxed into biting," Clark said. "Fishing is a little better this week and should continue improving as the water warms. Being able to see the fish and watch how they react to your bait helps a lot, too."

Clark said he’s caught most of his fish on a Category 5 Manic Minnow, an imitation mud minnow. He’s rigging them on a flutter hook and fishing them very slowly, twitching it a few inches above the bottom. He likes to work around the edge of the school until a hungry red can’t stand it. He might take several more fish from the same school.

Clark said he really prefers to fish the reds on the flats, but they aren't always there. He said it's fun for his fishermen to see the fish and how they react and take baits and it never gets old for him either. 

On higher water in cooler conditions, Clark will start on points that taper into deep water with current. Fish will be downcurrent of the point, waiting for bait to be swept past.