With sub-freezing weather clinging to most of the state, fishing has been difficult for most areas - except the southeastern coast.

"We're catching reds down in the bay, and there's a few fish along the docks and waterways, along with a few (speckled) trout," said Wilmington guide Jeff Wolfe.

Using Gulp! Shrimp and DOA Golden Shiners along with paddletail jigs, he and two clients caught 25 redfish last Saturday along with some smallish specks.

"Most of the reds are in the slot (18 to 27 inches) to upper slot while the specks are running from 12 to 16 inches," said Wolfe (Seahawk Inshore Charters, 910-619-9580, www.seahawkinshorefishingcharters.com).

Besides hitting the same lures, the specks are biting MR17s and MR18 MirrOlures.

"I've been having most of my best luck using the DOA golden shiner," he said. "It resembles a mud minnow, which is about the only baits still around now with the water so cold (low 50-degree range)."

Best times to fish for both species are falling tides.

"Most of our fish are coming on the lower stages of the tide," Wolfe said. "The ideal time this time of year is mid-afternoon when you get low water in the creeks. It's been cold but sunny and that warms the shallow water and it's where fish are going to turn on, if anywhere."

Striped bass (catch and release only) also are active in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, he said.

"We caught four or five using topwater lures near downtown Wilmington," Wolfe said.

"That day I was throwing a 4-foot-diver, a Heddon Spittin' Image. I also threw a MR27, which is mostly a speck lure, but it resembles a small menhaden and shad, which are still in the river. Zara Spooks and larger (soft-plastic) swim baits also are catching stripers."