Cool weather means hot Cape Fear trout fishing

Guide Stu Caulder fooled this Cape Fear speck with a D.O.A. shrimp.

Trout fishing picks up as weather cools

Speckled trout have been biting in North Carolina’s Cape Fear River between Wilmington and Southport all summer. And Capt. Stu Caulder of Gold Leader Guide Service expects the action to get even better as falling water temperatures stimulate trout to feed aggressively and bulk up for the coming winter.

Lures and baits that were checked out but didn’t quite make the grade during the summer will be rapidly sucked down by hungry fish in November. The last of the baitfish and shrimp are moving out of the creeks and marshes. And this is a time for catching trout and more.

Fish and fishermen have enjoyed four mild winters, and the trout fishery has responded well. November is a great time to catch limits. Plus there is an excellent opportunity to add an outstanding catch citation (5 pounds and up) to your man-cave wall.

“We are blessed with a lot of opportunities to catch trout between the Cape Fear River inlet and Wilmington,” Caulder said. “It’s also nice to have a healthy trout population after several mild winters. The good fishing begins just inside the Cape Fear River inlet with the creeks that flow in behind Bald Head Island, continues by the rock wall that runs from Fort Fisher to Bald Head, then moves into Snow’s Marsh and Walden Creek. Heading west, the Elizabeth River and Dutchman Creek work through a large marsh system between Southport and Oak Island.

Numerous lures of different types are working for specks

“Moving farther up the river, 20-some spoil islands are along the ship channel, plus Town Creek, the Brunswick River, Mallory Creek, Motts Creek and Barnard Creek that flow into the river between Snow’s Cut and Wilmington,” Caulder said. “If there hasn’t been much rain for a while, saltwater may move far enough up the river to catch specks in Wilmington and beyond.”

Many fishermen believe the best way to catch fall trout is to suspend a live shrimp or minnow under a float and drift it past creek mouths, across points and along grass edges, oyster or sand bars. Caulder (910-264-2674) said specks will also respond to lures in these same locations and specializes on catching them on artificials.

“There is a variety of structure in the lower Cape Fear that includes shallow flats, bars and points off creek mouths, oyster rocks and surprisingly steep drops,” Caulder said. “I leave home with multiple rods rigged with topwaters, suspending baits and sinking baits. My favorites are MirrOlure Top Pups for topwater, MirrOlure 17MR and 27MR MirrOdines for mid-depths or situations where a suspending lure works best, and D.O.A. shrimp, paddletails and jerkbaits for fishing deeper and when the bait needs to move along the bottom.”

About Jerry Dilsaver 1153 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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