Capt. Allen Jernigan of Breadman Ventures in Sneads Ferry said the inshore fishing is as hot as the weather, and that the summer heat has fired up flounder, red drum and speckled trout in the area.
Jernigan said schools of reds are being broken up by large-mesh gill nets set for flounder – even if commercial fishermen can’t keep them – but that “when you locate a school, they are usually feeding and will bite if you approach them slowly and don’t spook them.”
Jernigan said there are some schools of speckled trout in the New River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Most of the time they’re in slightly deeper water, but they seem to get excited when a school of drum begins feeding and often join them. Jernigan said the trout usually work the edges of the school and pick off mullet minnows and small menhaden, but several times, he has caught them right in the middle of the reds – possibly because the schools are smaller than usual.
“One day (last week), I spotted a school of drum busting on a school of mullet minnows on a flat in a bay,” Jernigan said. “I had two fishermen on the charter that day, so once I got them into casting range and let them cast, I made a cast too. We all hooked up and landed nice fish: a pair of upper-slot drum and a 5 ½-pound trout. We caught several other trout that day that were mixed in the middle of the schools of drum.”
Jernigan (910-467-1482) said flounder are scattered through the area; he often catches them once the drum sound and he is fishing on or just above the bottom. He said limits of flounder are possible on flounder trips, but most of his clients prefer the mixed-bag fishing.
“We’ve been catching a lot of the reds and specks on topwaters,” Jernigan said. “Sometimes they bite well early and late in the day, but they often get fired up in the middle of the day. Wherever we are fishing, I’m constantly scanning the water as far as I can see. Schools of reds and specks will chase mullet minnows and small pogies to the top and you can see the commotion for a ways.
“When they are feeding on top, we throw Top Pups, Top Dog Juniors and She Pups,” Jernigan said. “They are about the same size as the mullets, and the fish zero in on them. All are topwaters and have rattles, but the Top Pups and Top Dog Juniors have a single rattle and are low frequency, while the She Pup has multiple smaller rattles and is higher frequency. Right now, they all three lures are working for both fish, but sometimes the trout like the She Pups better, and the reds prefer the Top Pups and Juniors.”