Lower Cape Fear River giving up mixed bags of inshore fish

Cape Fear
With no shortage of fishy habitat in the Lower Cape Fear River, anglers can expect plenty of red drum, black drum and speckled trout.

Numerous species are biting along the Lower Cape Fear River

The Cape Fear River is the only large N.C. river that flows directly into the ocean. The strong flow spreads out in the lower river. Red drum, black drum and speckled trout manage well in the bays, creeks and marshes away from the colder winter water and stronger currents of the shipping channel. In many places, the water doesn’t exchange entirely on every tide cycle. These places are typically a degree or two warmer. And that’s a beacon to the bait and fish wintering in the Cape Fear River system below Snows Cut.

Much of this area is shallow water, requiring shallow draft boats and lots of knowledge or slow navigation. Ramps are present at Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher on the east side of the river and at Southport on the west side. The tide change is approximately 4 feet on an average day and can approach 7 feet on a lunar tide. This amount of change definitely moves any bait remaining in the creeks and marshes, but doesn’t always move it far. It also affects navigation through the marshes and creeks.

Captain Jeff Wolfe and his son, Captain Christian Wolf (www.seahawkinshorefishingcharters.com, 910-619-9580 or 910-619-5053) fish this area year-round and enjoy good catches of specks, reds and black drum during the winter months.

Get away from the crowd

Christian Wolf said everyone has heard of the Basin, Second Bay and Buzzard Bay and they can get crowded on a nice day. He and his dad like to run past them, deeper into the marsh, where many folks won’t go. The fish aren’t as spooky away from so many boats running over them and they are usually in a mood to bite. Folks unfamiliar with the marshes and creeks should move slowly and be aware of the tides to avoid being stranded. It can be a long cold wait for the tide to come back in.

Wolfe said speckled trout and red drum will usually hit lures, just not with the same enthusiasm as in warmer water. Black drum don’t seem to like lures as much, but will occasionally hit them. Soft plastics, fished slowly on light jigheads are their go-to choices for this fishing. Black drum usually prefer pieces of shrimp or cut bait and their red cousins will eat them too. A Carolina rig works well for fishing natural bait.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1172 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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