"We've been going to some of the creeks off the (lower) Neuse," said Richard Andrews of Washington's Tar-Pam Guide Service (252-945-9715, www.tarpamguide.com).
"It's always good to fish around the full moon (for specks), the first four or five days before and the last two or three after," he said Thursday, Feb. 9 (the moon was full Feb. 7). "Specks get more active then."
He and clients caught specks with MirrOlure MR17s and MR27s.
"We put lead strips on their bellies to make them sink faster," he said.
This is the one time - with the water temperature 55 to 61 degrees - that specks will only hit suspended MirrOlures.
"When you put lead strips (an old pro bass angler's tactic to make jerk baits and deep-divers go deeper) on the MirrOlures, you cast and starting counting," Andrews said. "It takes 5 seconds for a MR17 or MR27 to fall a foot, so if you're in 5 feet of water, you'd count 25 seconds. Then you twitch the tip 16 to 18 inches, once, twice or three times, then let (the lure) sit there. The specks hit it while it's suspended."
Andrews said it's best to find a structure, such as a ledge on the outside of a creek bend, and slide a mushroom anchor over the side, using rope and not chain.
"You need to be quiet as possible and not let the boat move around a lot," he said.
Most of the specks are 13- to 14-inches long, with some keepers (14 inches and larger) in the mix.
"We've been catching a lot of dinks," he said. "Thirty, 40 or 50 specks in a day."
Anglers may keep four specks a day.
Best MirrOlure colors are electric chicken and Mardi Gras (purple back with yellow belly).
"To find a place to fish, look for visible signs of baitfish or mark bait on your depth-finder," Andrews said.
Striped bass fishing also has been good at his other top spot, the Plymouth area of the Roanoke River.
"I've been taking fly anglers using heavy sinking line, letting a Clouser minnow sink all the way to the bottom, then stripping it back (to the boat)," he said.
Other clients prefer casting Z-Man 3-inch paddle-tail white MinnowZ soft plastic lures on 1/2-ounce leadhead jigs - or he tries trolling.
"This year with the water temperature 10 degrees higher than last year, there's a lot of stripers out in (Albemarle) Sound, not in big concentrated schools but in small scattered schools," Andrews said.
He trolls for those stripers above submerged structures. Keeper season is closed in the Roanoke River until March 1, so he's trolling Rattlin' Rogues, Rebel FastTracks, Yo-Zuri 3-D Crystal Minnows and Rat-L-Traps at just above dead idle speed in the sound.
"You can keep three (stripers) per person in the sound now," he said. "We've been seeing a mixed age class of fish that reflects good recruitment classes from 2009 and 2010," Andrews said. "That's according to (Division of Marine Fisheries) striper biologist Charlton Godwin."