Stripers, specks biting strong on N.C. coast

Guide Gary Dubiel caught this average-sized Trent River striped bass during January.

Neuse-Trent river system is hotspot for winter stripers, seatrout

With central N.C. coastal fishing locked down by winter, two species remain active in the Neuse-Trent river systems.

“But (the bite) is water-temperature dependent,” said veteran guide Gary Dubiel of Spec Fever Guide Service (252-514-3484).

Plenty of striped bass and spotted seatrout should be available in January because of higher salinity and tons of baitfish.

“A lot of salty, clear water has pushed to New Bern and upstream,” Dubiel said.

Winter stripers hold at channel ledges in the Neuse and Trent and at bridge support structures and the railroad trestle that spans the Neuse.

“Best times to search for fish are during warm, sunny afternoons,” Dubiel said. “I’ll drift with the current until I locate fish, then repeat that portion of a drift.”

This technique also is effective when searching channel edges and flats where topwater bites may ignite.

His tackle includes 7-foot medium-light and medium-strength rods, 2500 Series reels spooled with 15-pound test braid and 20-pound test mono leaders. “If it’s sunny, and the surface water temperature rises to the low-to-mid 50s that’s a good time for topwater,” Dubiel said.

Trout also collect in both rivers’ feeder creeks during winter.

The Neuse and Trent flow so far inland at New Bern they aren’t affected by ocean tides. But wind can have similar effects.

“Wind has a lot to do with locations a person can fish,” Dubiel said. “Northeast winds push water higher, and the opposite happens on a west wind when (anglers) have to shift down.”

In most instances, stripers and trout orient at the edges of channels or creeks on the deep (stripers) or shallow (trout) sides.

His favorite lures include 3-inch Storm shads in white or white-and-chartreuse colors threaded onto 1/4- or 1/8-ounce jigheads.

“You don’t want to throw big lures in winter,” he said. “At times I’ll drop down to 2 inch sizes.”

About Craig Holt 1382 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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