Capt Mark Stacy of Ocean Isle Fishing Charters said the first half of January brought excellent condition and good fishing to the waters around Ocean Isle Beach. He ventured east to the Shallotte River and west to Little River Inlet and found hungry red drum and specks in numerous places.
"With all the sunshine and warm weather, our inside water warmed to 59 degrees," Stacy said. "That was enough the speckled trout activity went from a few light pecks in a day to a full-on trout bite. They were hungry, and a Billy Bay Halo Shrimp or a MirrOlure cast to the right place was hit immediately. It has been the best January trout fishing I can remember."
Stacy (910-279-0119) said he found puppy drum in the backs of creeks near the beaches, but that the warm water had pushed them back out into the main bodies of the creeks and along the Intracoastal Waterway.
"Usually during January, the reds are schooled, and we can find schools of 30 and more in the warmer water near the backs of many creeks," Stacy said. "When we had the cold weather before Christmas, they were starting to gather back there, but all this warm weather and warm water changed that. The schools broke up and the reds moved about in small groups and singles."
Stacy said trout have been holding in potholes four to six feet deep in the Shallotte River, canals at the beaches and the larger creeks south and west to the South Carolina line, with some holding along the Little River Inlet jetties.
Reds are being caught around docks along the ICW, especially on higher stages of the tide, with fish moving back in creeks. He'll fish under docks on high tide, then move back into the marsh creeks on low water. He doesn't fish anything except a Gulp! shrimp or a live mud minnow on a jighead; the reds will eat both.
"I know the weather will cool eventually and cool the water too," Stacy said. "When that happens the trout bite should taper off again, but the reds should school better and be easier to find. That will be good when it happens, but the action here is something special right now."