With air temperatures rising into the 60s and low 70s across coastal North Carolina and forcing water temps higher, the hickory and American (white) shad spring migration runs are heating up at the upper Neuse River and tributary creeks such as Pitchkettle and Contentnea.

"Hickory and American shad are moving up the river now even though it's a little early, to tell you the truth," said guide Mark Hoff of Oriental. "We had a pretty wet early February and late January, and that kept the water high and I think that's what triggered an early shad run around New Bern and up the river."

Best lures are small curlytail-type crappie jigs along with spoons and shad darts.

"Not only that, but there are quite a few stripers in the New Bern area because they're following the shad," said Hoff (Sweetwater Charters, 252-717-4521).

Anglers who want to fish for stripers are using cut shad fished on the bottom from Kinston to New Bern and picking up scattered catfish as well, Hoff said.

"If you like using artificial lures, Storm Shads are working well in the Trent River and at the bridges in the New Bern area that cross the Neuse River," he said.

Red drum fishing also is heating up along with water temperatures.

"Most of those fish are sub-slot to 19-inch lengths," Hoff said.

Speckled trout news isn't good because the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted to keep the recreational season closed until June 15 while commercial netters still will be able to catch 50-pounds of non-targeted specks per trip.