Swansboro specks are stacked up and biting

David Hamrick of Lancaster, S.C., shows a pretty spring speck caught fishing with his son-in-law, guide David Towler. (Photo by David Towler)

Swansboro specks stack up with reduced fishing pressure

It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow good fortune to someone or something. But that’s been the fishing situation along North Carolina’s coast this spring because of the coronavirus.

Stay-at-home orders kept plenty of fishermen away from the coast, shutting down boat ramps in a handful of counties. This on the heels of Hurricane Florence keeping fishermen away from the coast from mid-September 2018 until spring 2019.

But one bright spot has been rebounding fish populations because of reduced fishing pressure the past two years.

“The whole thing has been a little bit of a perfect storm for trout,” said guide David Towler of Swansboro’s Towler Time Charters. “Back-to-back mild winters helped Swansboro specks. Catches were better last fall, winter and this spring, with bigger fish than I can remember in my lifetime. And I’m 35.”

But with a rich target field ready to be explored this spring, the starting gate didn’t open on time for anglers.

“The best bite starts at dawn in mid-May, usually near grass flats, then extends into early June,” said Towler (910-554-4742). He uses 7-foot, medium-light or medium-action rods mated to 2500 class spinning reels spooled with 10- to 15-pound braid and 18 to 24 inches of 25-pound monofilament leader.

“I like to throw a SW08 Skitterwalk,” he said. “Trout’ll eat a Spook, but they miss a lot. The SW08 Skitterwalk has a higher-pitched rattle and hooks up better with trout. Hot Skitterwalk colors include black backs, silver sides and white or gold bellies.”

SheDogs, Top Pups or Top Dog Juniors in the same colors work.

Fish incoming tides during summer

“A lot of people like the high-pitch rattle of a She Dog,” said Towler, who likes the 4-inch 83MR in gold color, which often draws vicious trout strikes.

If the artificial bite is slow, Towler tries a Carolina-rigged finger mullet fished on the bottom or under a float with a split-shot, drifted with the tide parallel to marsh grass lines.

During warm weather, he prefers to fish incoming tides.

“When the sun gets up, trout pull out of the shallows and go to the first ledge or channel on the falling tide near grass flats,” he said. “I’ll go to heavier lures then.”

In June, Towler targets creek mouths within a half-mile of inlets.

“The water gets hot in the backs of creeks, sometimes 80 degrees, by June, so trout leave those creeks and get around mouths of creeks,” Towler said. “The hotter it gets, the more they move toward inlet mouths.”

By July, trout concentrate in the highest-salinity water around.

“I think they like saltier water when they’re spawning,” he said.

Craig Holt
About Craig Holt 1313 Articles
Craig Holt of Snow Camp has been an outdoor writer for almost 40 years, working for several newspapers, then serving as managing editor for North Carolina Sportsman and South Carolina Sportsman before becoming a full-time free-lancer in 2009.

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