"This really has been an exceptional fall," said Tex Grissom of Tex's Tackle in Wilmington. "After the mild winter last year, we were expecting a good trout bite, but I don't think anyone thought it would be as good as it has been. Redfish are still biting, too, and they add a little bit of fight to the finesse. When you throw in some late flounder, stripers and black drum, it creates a lot of opportunities. Only people who aren't fishing aren't catching this fall."
Grissom (910-791-1763) said that when the water temperatures dropped from the low 70s into the high 50s in mid-November, fishermen worried the quick change might shock the fish and turn off the bite. Instead, it shocked the fishermen by ramping the action up a notch or two. Then, the weather stabilized, warmed back above normal and fishing blossomed. Now, with water and air temperatures returning to normal, the action has ramped up again and even added a couple more species.
Grissom said fishermen are catching a lot of trout, plus some redfish, flounder and black drum in the creeks along the Intracoastal Waterway between Carolina Beach and Topsail, with the jetties at Masonboro Inlet being a hot spot. He said these same fish, plus stripers, are biting in the Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers between Snow's Cut and downtown Wilmington. Stripers have moved into the Cape Fear, Northeast Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers.
"All of these fish like live baits but will also pretty readily hit diving or suspending hard baits and a variety of soft plastics, Grissom said. "Scented lures – or adding scent – isn't absolutely necessary to catch a few fish, but it definitely appears to increase the number of strikes. Live shrimp are a universal favorite of inshore predators, and it is rare that anything snubs its nose at a squirming shrimp suspended under a cork and drifting with the tide. This works from the end of the Masonboro jetties to where I-140 crosses the Northeast Cape Fear."
To talk with other sportsmen about inshore fishing in North Carolina, visit the inshore fishing forum.