Fall is a great time to go saltwater fishing here in Eastern N.C., we have flounder, drum, sheepshead, and most importantly, speckled trout. The trout species holds a special place in my heart after growing up in Utah. I have fished for brown trout and rainbow trout most of my life, however, living in Wilmington N.C. I have the opportunity to target a saltwater cousin of the same fish I grew up learning the ropes on. On October 30, 2018 I had the great opportunity to join my friend Gary Ream for a day of inshore fishing on the InterCoastal Waterway targeting speckled trout. Needless to say, I was excited.
My morning started at the boat ramp in Wrightsville Beach arriving 45 mins early in-order to get out and throw the cast net before my friend arrived. Catching bait in the same area you plan to fish has many advantages. Besides saving money, you are more likely to catch fish if you can successfully match the hatch, as the saying goes. By the time Gary arrived I already had a bucket full of finger mullet which would save us time allowing him to focus on getting the boat ready. Only minutes later we were in the water and eager to take off, heading north towards a favorite spot of mine called Big Lollipop Bay. I knew that if we were able to get in place before the sun smiled down on us then we would have action right away and boy, was I right, there were at least 15 redfish tailing around us as the current drifted us down the bank. It only took a few casts using a simple spinner bait before I hooked up on a 16” puppy drum that put up one heck of a fight on my light tackle. We chased the drum for about 30 minutes before departing to our next spot trying to find what we came for.
After fishing few cuts on the water way we finally landed in the mouth of Nixon Channel on the ICW side, this is where we caught the most fish of the day, cast after cast we were pulling in trout as if we had some kind of unfair advantage. We were using mirror lures and they were working extremely well. With these lures all you have to do is cast them out and let them settle down, slowly jigging them in letting the action of the sinking lure do all the work. Unfortunately we landed over 60 fish and not a single one was 14”, but thats okay, that means the fish will be keepers in a few weeks the next time I go out. Just for fun I threw out a Carolina Rig with the finger mullet I caught using the cast net and landed a sea bass, I could tell it was too small to keep due to the easy fight it produced. However on light action gear everything is fun.
Once the tide started to come in the trout disappeared and we moved locations back to Big Lollipop Bay, here we landed on a group of flounder hitting hard on Berkley Gulp mud minnows and a simple jig head. We both caught a few throwbacks before we had to load the boat up for the night.
Even though we came home empty handed, it was still a great day on the water. If you get a chance to get out on the ICW between Topsail Island and Wrightsville Beach, you can find the locations I talked about on google maps. Also, I highly recommend using an app called “Fish Rules” which allows you to have access to all the fish rules and regulations in your area at your fingertips. Good luck and happy fishing, maybe I’ll see you out there.