Now is the perfect time to be fishing, period. If you can find any time to go, then you should go!
There are a few things to make note of this time of year especially when there has been so much rain and heat. Conditions change in the water that can cause a severe change in mood for the fish. They may even change location in a big way.
If you have lots of rain, for example, that means there is lots of fresh water moving through the Cape Fear River. This can really alter the water quality, temperature and salinity. Those changes in conditions can really make fish react by way of movement or mood to bite. So you need to take these changes into consideration when you decide to go after the inshore favorite three: flounder, red drum, and speckled trout. Those fish can make major adjustments in their location, feeding habits and mood to bite.
Let’s take the red drum first. They’ve been having a great life way up in the creeks where the bait fish is plentiful and the water has been clean and salty. They haven’t been hastled all that much by lots of fishermen every day, so life was great until the five-day rain events of several weeks ago. That pushed a large amount of fresh water into those creeks and little safe havens—that forces the bait fish to move out, so the drum will follow.
Now the drum are all over the place looking for salty water and easy pickin’s for food. The red drum are more scattered now than they have been all summer. This can be good and bad for the fisherman. If you were catching them fairly easy so far this summer and now they are gone, it’s time for you to seek out new locations for the bite. It can actully be a little easier to find them now but maybe not in a concentrated area. So go seek them out and remember—they can’t see well so find clean water, use smelly but fresh bait and wait for them. They are still around!
Now for the flounder. Those guys can handle the fresh water but may not stay inshore due to movement of the bait. If you notice, the mullet minows are more abundant out on the oceanfront. The bait fish are still inshore but the larger size of fish and schools is moving outward toward the ocean. Go look there for the larger baits and more concentrations of the flounder. Local artificial reefs and structures in the ocean can prove to be the best place while this dirty, less salty water is in the river. The flounder bite has been great in the ocean the last three to four weeks.
Now for the speckled trout. These fish are on the move. They don’t like dirty water all that much and will also move out into the ocean. They will move with the tide as well. The deal is, if you find them, there are probably many to be caught there but they might not stay long.
Look for clean water, especially at the high–tide end of the tide movement. They are typically in deeper holes or deep portions of a creek but they move around on the hunt for bait fish. Deep water access near grass banks is a great place to look. Also, the artificial reef areas near shore are a good place to fish for those right now. Clean water is key!
Last but not least, now is the time to think about the coming fall season and what you’ll use for bait. As you catch the larger mullet minnows, fiddler crabs, one-arm bandits, and pogies, start putting some in the freezer for late fall, winter and spring bait. I usually keep what’s left in my live bait well after a trip and freeze them for later. A flounder will literaly attack a frozen finger mullet in the late fall as if it were alive and well. Remember that one!
Remember, now is the prime time. I hope these tips help you catch more fish and remember this, if you don’t fish you won’t catch, so go fishing!