Lots of trout hang around piers this month
June is a great time to catch large speckled trout across both Carolinas. The spawn is peaking this month and anglers are catching some big, sow specks.
Ocean piers are special places to run into big June specks. Especially the piers along North Carolina’s southeastern coast, because not all of the trout have moved into the backwaters yet.
For the special breed of anglers who chase trout from the planks, high above the ocean, the rig of choice is a slip-bobber and float rig used to present live shrimp and minnows a couple of feet off the bottom.
The importance of the slip bobber is to allow quickly adjusting the depth of the bait as feeding trout move in or out along the pier. The rig is very simple, with a hook about a foot below an egg sinker and the slip bobber on the line above. Most fishermen use a No. 6 or No. 8 treble hook.
Team up to find the schools
“We try to pattern the trout, but they are feeding and move in and out with the shrimp or minnows they’re eating,” said Luke Horn. He’s a regular at Ocean Crest Pier on Oak Island, N.C. “One day, they will be right behind the breakers, and the next, they’ll be out near the pier’s end. I usually fish with Roger Gates. He is a master at this. We start at opposite ends of the pier and work along the pier until we find a school. Once you find them, the deal is on. They are in schools, and unless something spooks the school, they are ready to eat.”
Allen Lakey, another regular fisherman at Ocean Crest Pier, said windy conditions make the cork bob too much. Then, the bait doesn’t look right. When the wind really blows, he fishes a rig locally called a “sidewinder” rig. This is much like a drop-shot rig and uses a sinker to go to the bottom while positioning a live minnow a couple of feet above the bottom.
Area piers all suffered some damage from Hurricane Florence in September 2018. Sunset Beach Pier, Ocean Isle Pier, Holden Beach Pier and Ocean Crest Pier on Oak Island are open. Oak Island Pier is being rebuilt, and expectations were for it to reopen around Memorial Day, but the offshore end may not be completely finished.