Time to go Coastal!!!

By: Frank Jones

It’s November and time to talk about the best time of the year to do some coastal fishing in my home state of North Carolina. In the fall the Speckled Trout fishing on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina really heats up, and by following some simple tips you can quickly catch your limit of trout. After that, provided you have gotten on the right spot with the right presentation, you can enjoy the rest of the day with some great catch and release action. For me I enjoy fishing back in the many marshes of our coastal area. This is the type of protected waters that my Twin Troller really excels, because it requires getting back to the skinny water and pin point boat control to get to and position your boat in the prime fishing locations. A pleasant  fall day spent in the back of the marsh hunting speckled trout makes for the prefect small water adventure.

In planning a trip I’ll often pick up a copy of the local Coastal Angler Magazine to check out any fishing reports and articles that can make my trip more successful. This month I thought I would share a recent article in hopes that it if you get down to the Carolina coast it will provide a few pointers that will make your trip a success also. Hope you enjoy it.

Tight Lines,
Frank Jones 

Gearing Up For Fall Speckled Trout Fishing 

Featured in Coastal Angler Magazine

The Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Beaufort and Cape Lookout areas of North Carolina (Know as the Crystal Coast.) have some of the best speckled trout fishing that can be done on the East Coast. From late September into the winter is the prime time to get in on this great speckled trout action. If you plan on visiting this fishery, remember current NC regulations require a speckled trout to be at least 14 inches in length and you can only keep 4 per person. A spec weighing over 5 lbs will get you a North Carolina Citation, and this size fish is usually not hard to come by on the Crystal Coast.

Haystack’s Marsh, Core Creek, Middle Marsh, Hoop Pole Creek, North River Marsh, Spooner’s Creek, Broad Creek, Gales Creek and School House Creek are all great areas to start looking for speckled trout from late September into November. If you are not familiar with the area, the Top Spot Morehead City Inshore Map has all these areas marked and is a great resource to help in planning your fishing trip in the area.

When fishing these areas, baitfish is the first thing you have to find. If there is bait around, there will be speckled trout around; look for live shrimp popping on top, as well as live mud minnows or live finger mullet. Most of the areas listed above are protected water marsh areas or a creek that have bridges and docks in it. Great areas for a small water adventure.

Trout will stage up in the deeper water in these areas and come up into the shallows to feed. Now, when I say deeper water, it’s still usually not over 6 feet deep where they will be holding. They love to be around some kind of structure: bridges, boat docks, grass beds and oyster bars are great places to be looking for specs from late September through November.

The ditches that run through the marsh area are always great places to try. They actually flow through the marsh grass and are the deepest parts of the marsh systems, because of the current flowing through them. Trout love to stage up in the ditches and ambush bait that is being pushed through with the current. The Haystack’s Marsh, Hoop Pole Creek Marsh, North River Marsh and Middle Marsh have some great ditches that flows all the way through and hold speckled trout. The trout don’t really mind current, they like moving water…that’s where they like to feed.

Artificial lures and live baits will both catch Speckled Trout. Live baits are probably the easiest way to catch them, but this time of year artificial baits can work just as well.

Let’s talk about the best artificial lures first. There are lots of lures out there but some work better than others. MirrOlures have caught more trout over the years than anything else. Great MirrOlure baits are 52M, 52MR, TT, S52MR, STTR, 17MR, 19MR, 27MR and Catch 2000. They all do about the same thing in the water but some rattle, some sink faster and some suspend. You’ll have to experiment to see which works best for the spots you are fishing.

Sometimes you need your bait to suspend in the water column or you need it to sink faster because the water might be deeper or the current might be running hard. The hottest MirrOlure bait over the last two years has been the 17MR and 27MR. They are suspending shad-shaped baits that have been very hot in the creeks and marsh areas. MirrOlures come in tons of colors but these are always great choices for this area: 808, 26, EC, 11, 18 and MGBG. One thing you have to remember when fishing a MirrOlure of any kind is: you cannot fish it too slow! When you think you are fishing it slow enough, slow down even more. All you need to do is make very short snaps with the tip of your rod or just reel the lure “real slow” through the water column and let the lure do all the work.

Berkley Gulp is also a great choice for trout. I think any Gulp bait you can buy will catch fish. But it seems the best for the speckled trout is a 3” Shrimp in the New Penny or Pearl White colors. You can’t go wrong with either, fished on a jig head from 3/16 oz to ½ oz depending on the water depth you are fishing. Always remember you want to fish the lightest head you can get by with, but you need to be on the bottom or somewhere near it.

Billy Bay Halo Shrimp, DOA Shrimp and Strom Shrimp are all great lures to use also. Some of the best colors are Glow, Clear Silver Sparkle, Pink, Clear Red Sparkle, Pink Silver Flake and Gold Sparkle.

There are tons of soft plastics that will work but some of the best over the years have been; Gotcha 4” Curly Tails, DOA Jerk Shads, DOA Paddle Tails, Lil’ Fishies, Trout Killers, Tsunami Swim Baits and Storm Baits.

Now to live bait. Live shrimp is the best live bait you can use for speckled trout. When using live shrimp you can fish them on the bottom with a ¼ oz to 1/2 oz egg weight fished in a Carolina rig. But by far, the most popular way to fish a live shrimp is under a slip float. The slip float works best because you can set your depth at any setting and still be able to make a cast. You can fish it in 2 ft to 30ft of water. One of the biggest key in live bait fishing for trout is a good 10-20 lb. fluorocarbon leader and a good hook. I like a # 8 treble or an Owner 1/0 Mosquito hook. As the water cools down into December, live shrimp will start to disappear. After the shrimp are gone, the live bait choice will be live mud minnows. The trout will really start to key in on the mud minnows because that will be the only bait left for them to feed on. You fish them the same way as you would fish a live shrimp. As the water really cools down into the winter they are just about the only way to catch good numbers of speckled trout.

Capt. Matt Lamb
Chasin’ Tails Outdoors
Atlantic Beach N.C


By: Mike Pehanich

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