Red hot for redfish in Swansboro

Dale Collins of Swansboro guided this young angler and his dad to a 30-inch red drum. (Picture by Dale Collins)

Summer heat doesn’t stop red drum from biting

Dale Collins of FishOrDie Charters of Swansboro (252-422-4326), luckily hasn’t been gob-smacked by fuel prices because he specializes in taking clients to nearby creeks and marsh bays with his center console 23-foot aluminum skiff.

“It’s hot in August. But you can have a good drum topwater bite near Bogue and Bear Inlets early in the mornings and late in the evenings,” he said.

Collins’ favorite lures for redfish include 1/4-ounce Gulp and Redfish Magic spinnerbaits during falling tides, or soft-plastic paddle-tail lures bumped along the bottom.

Good fishing hours include the first couple of hours of incoming tide and last two hours of falling tide.

When tides flood marsh grass, he’ll push a 3/0 Owner circle hook into a soft-plastic grub to make it weedless and toss it in front of tailing redfish that scour bottoms for tiny crabs and other crustaceans.

“I like for clients to fish the edges of marsh islands near a little deeper water with a Carolina rig or pitch live baits at docks with shade,” he said.

If redfish don’t show interest in artificial lures, Collins ties on Carolina rigs to flip live finger mullets, pinfish, tiny croakers or menhaden near marsh islands.

“Live baits seem to work better when it gets hot after the sun gets up. Redfish like cooler water, which is deeper or shadier. In the middle of bays in August, the water temperature can get to 95 degrees.”

During bright days, Collins noted red drum like the ends of shady docks in deeper water.

Oyster beds also can be a redfish magnet, he said.

“Oyster beds attract mud minnows and hold all types of little crabs. Redfish eat mud crabs and small blue crabs.”

His open-water tackle includes medium-light 40-pound class Star rods mated to 2500 series Penn Conflict reels spooled with 10-pound test Power Pro braided main line and pink 30-pound test Yo-Zuri monofilament leaders.

For fishing near oyster rocks or marsh edges, he’ll use 6- to 14-pound rated Star Segis rods with 15- to 20-pound test Power Pro and 50-pound test fluorocarbon leaders.

A day’s catch often includes five to 10 red drum and flounder that’ll smack artificial grubs and live baits, the same things drum eat.

The redfish keeper limit in North Carolina is one fish per day inside an 18- to 27-inch slot limit.

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About Craig Holt 1374 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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