Cape Fear specks ready to provide good fall bite

Speckled trout should be biting through November and into December in the waters around North Carolina’s Cape Fear.

Speckled trout in North Carolina waters took a hit in September when Hurricane Florence arrived. The slow-moving storm wreaked havoc on much of the coast, especially from Cape Lookout into South Carolina.

The record flood waters pouring down coastal rivers continued for weeks, and they weren’t clean, carrying plenty of toxins and agencies advising people to avoid contact with the water if possible.

The waters returned to non-toxic levels in early October in the areas north of Cape Fear, lingering a while west of the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

When fishermen returned to the water, they found it cooling, with the last spawn of shrimp and minnows pushing out of the creeks and marshes. Hungry gamefish were waiting for them, especially speckled trout, keying on creek mouths and other ambush points.

Specks began biting first in the channels leading from the Intracoastal Waterway to Mason and Rich Inlets. The bite moved south to Masonboro Inlet as the water cleared, then to Carolina Beach Inlet and Yacht Basin and south to the bays and creeks behind Bald Head Island and around Southport. Waters in Brunswick County farther away from Cape Fear aren’t influenced by the river, and the action began earlier.

Fishermen should enjoy several weeks of specks hitting topwater lures as the water cools. The bite should continue at least through November, but move under the surface If the water cools slowly. That would extend it into December.

The easiest and often most-productive way to catch specks is using live shrimp under corks. Live minnows and dead shrimp will also produce. Soft plastics and suspending hard lures are generally considered the best subsurface lures for specks.

The preferred bait or lure may change during the month and there may be a lot of shorts, but most fishermen anticipate enjoying a good fall trout bite.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1171 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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