"We're catching flounders, red drum and speckled trout right now," said veteran Port City guide Jeff Wolfe (Seahawk Inshore Charters, 910- 619-9580, www.seahawkinshorefishingcharters.com). "Flounder and specks are being caught way up river."
But red drum in the multiple bays across from Southport and north of Bald Head Island continue to be favorite targets.
"I'm seeing big schools of reds at times -- from 100 to 150 fish," Wolfe said.
Best lures are topwater plugs such as TopDogs, TopDog Juniors and Zara Spooks.
"They're also hitting Gulp! shrimp and Gulp! minnows," he said.
Most of the redfish are in the keeper slot range (18 to 27 inches in length) or just above slot.
"It's just a matter of finding them," he said. "When the tide's up, we fish the grass banks; if it's calm they may be on open flats. You can see them pushing water from 100 to 200 yards away."
At low tide or when it's windy, Wolfe takes his clients "back in the creeks" to find redfish at deeper pockets of water.
"Fishing's not crazy good yet, unless you get the right conditions," he said. "A good day right now is a dozen reds, a few flounder and some specks."
The flounder, some of them reaching 4 to 5 pounds, are beginning to push up Cape Fear toward Wilmington, Wolfe said.
"They're hitting peanut pogies (menhaden) on Carolina rigs," he said. "Blind-casting Gulp! shrimp and Gulp! minnows is how we also pick up a few. They're showing up in the river around docks and points, all the way to downtown Wilmington."
The water's still a little cool to find finger mullet, which are a favorite flounder bait.
"Docks are best places to fish for flounder right now," Wolfe said. "If you can find a place where a dock, a creek and a point come together, that'll usually hold some flounder."
Scattered spotted seatrout (it's their spawning time) are hitting live shrimp fished under float rigs/popping corks, DOA artificial soft-plastic lures on jigeads or paddle-tail soft-plastics on jigheads.
"Some of the 'sows' (big females) are being caught, but I turn those big ones loose," Wolfe said. "I want them to lay eggs so we can have more specks."