Reds, striped bass have anglers mixed up but happy in Pungo River
Topwater action excellent on Pungo from Belhaven downstream
Redfish are hitting topwater baits and soft-plastic baits fished under corks, throughout the Pungo River downstream from Belhaven.
The Pungo is a big, wide river downstream from Belhaven to the Pamlico Sound, but most of the fishing action has been along its banks and in its many tributary creeks, and in the past week or so, it’s been particularly good for redfish and striped bass.
“Our fishing … has been good all summer and is getting even stronger as we get into the fall,” said Richard Andrews of Washington’s Tar-Pam Guide Service. “We’re seeing a lot of mid- to upper-slot red drum and a surprising number of specks. There have been enough flounder to make it interesting and most days we can also find some rockfish. There are a lot of spots to fish between the wildlife ramp at Belhaven and the mouth of the river, and most of them are holding a variety of fish.”
Andrews (252-945-9715) said the best fishing has been when he’s found red drum mixed in with stripers. The strikes alternate between reds and stripers, and the action is usually strong.
“I know it sounds unbelievable, but we are having days right now when the drum will hit topwaters all day,” Andrews said. “I always leave the dock with Rapala Skitterwalks tied to a couple of rods. If they won’t hit topwaters … they will go after soft plastics fished under a popping cork. I put a Z-Man Shrimpz under the popping cork, and it’s game on. They also like the 3-inch paddletail MinnowZ used with a spinnerbait.”
Redfish are spread throughout the area, Andrews said, but the better concentrations are usually around moving water – movement usually caused by wind. If you can find a point with water moving across it, you’ll usually find a concentration of fish.
“Red drum will also herd bait into the back of coves and then proceed to feast on them,” Andrews said. “This attracts more redfish, some (striped bass) and any other predators that are around. The action can get really good, and with a variety of fish.”
Andrews always checks the places where smaller creeks and drains flush into larger creeks, and spots where shallow guns run up into the grass and the bank – places where baitfish often try to hide. Sometimes, he said, red drum and stripers will move even into these super-shallow areas.
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