NC trout fishing is the best it’s been in years
Speckled trout fishing has been good in southeastern North Carolina all year and is expected to be excellent this fall as even more trout reach keeper size. It seems odd, but the passing of Hurricane Florence last fall did the trout a favor when it kept fishermen off the water for several weeks.
A mild winter allowed all the trout to survive, and fishing has been very good all year. Those trout that weren’t caught have spawned again, and trout fishing is the best it has been in years.
The water warmed early and has stayed warm this fall, with the last baitfish and shrimp just moving out of the creeks. During November, speckled trout should be found just about anywhere water flow is concentrated through the marsh, which concentrates the bait. It’s a buffet for trout, and they are taking advantage.
Fishermen should find specks at creek mouths, points and along oyster bars and rip-rap. When the bait is running hard, there should be telltale explosions as the trout attack and give away their locations.
Live shrimp tough to beat, but specks will eat other bait too
If live bait is available, the most popular way to catch specks is to drift live shrimp suspended under corks. When live shrimp aren’t available, trout will often hit live minnows and sometimes even dead shrimp. Some fishermen also catch fish using the latest soft-plastic shrimp shapes suspended under corks.
Speckled trout will also hit a variety of soft- and hard-plastic lures. Paddletails and shrimp shapes are the most-popular soft-plastic shapes and will usually produce. Suspending hard lures, like the MirrOlure MR 17 Series are local favorites that catch a lot of specks. Try not to work them too fast. If there is bait in the creeks, match its speed.
As long as the water stays warm, there will be topwater action. A Top Dog, Skitterwalk or Zara Spook walked though these areas should bring aggressive strikes. When this action slows the trout will still be feeding, just underwater.
The good fishing begins around the spoil islands up the Cape Fear River near Wilmington and continues in the creeks behind Bald Head Island, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach. Sometimes, bait holds in the canals at Holden and Ocean Isle beaches, and trout stay with it. There is limited riprap in this area, but it is always a good spot to check for specks. The Fort Fisher rocks are the most prominent and run for several miles, and there is riprap along the Intracoastal Waterway near the Duke Power Canal and at Browns Landing.