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In cold weather, redfish action heats up chilly waters

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Temperatures in the 60s have been heating up the inshore waters of Brunswick County, and though the water is still relatively cold, the action on redfish is hot.

“We’re poling to get to them in the tidal pools of the shallow creeks,” said Capt. Mark Dickson of Shallow Minded Charters. “They’ve been a little bigger lately. We usually see lots of fish in the 16- to 20-inch class this time of year, but lately we have been catching lots of fish in the 22-to 26-inch class with an occasional 30-incher mixed in.”

Redfish anglers are glad the winter has subsided a bit.

“I was surely glad to get February over with,” Dickson said. “It was a really cold month. But the fish have continued to bite well.”

The forecast calls for decent temperatures to continue, and though some rain may be in the mix, at least it won’t be the harsh cold rain of winter.

Currently, redfish are the big local saltwater catch. Some speckled trout have been active, but the inshore water is still a little cold for them with water temperatures in the low to mid-40s.

“I’ve heard from a couple of guys catching a few speckled trout on DOA shrimp,” Dickson said, “but the water is still really too dang cold. When it is hovering around 41 degrees, it’s hard to get the specks going.”

The redfish bite is making up for that, though. Early spring redfish are a hardy breed of tough-fighting fish that travel around in large schools.

Dickson fishes for the reds by push-poling into creek on low tide and working the tidal pools where the redfish gather to feed on trapped baitfish.

“Those redfish are still hanging around the backwater creeks,” he said, “and the bite will only get better as the weather warms. Right now, the best action is on the low tide in the tidal pools, and the tide is low in the mornings.”

Dickson and his charters have been fishing Gulp shrimp to catch the redfish, because it is still too cold to catch live shrimp for bait.

“We’ve been using Gulps on one-fourth ounce jigheads in the creeks,” Dickson said. “You just move slowly into the tidal pool areas so as not to spook them. Push off and get into the shallow creeks. The redfish are there. This backwater redfish action will only get better as the weather warms, and the fishing for speckled trout should pick up soon.”

Other than the redfish, the specks should be getting more active soon, and there are probably black drum hanging around the bridges and docks if anyone wants to fish at night. The surf may hold a few early whiting and some reds but most likely is still mainly populated by skates and small sharks.

If you are surf fishing or working the bridges for black drum, fish cut shrimp while you can, as soon the pinfish will arrive to steal your bait. If we can string some warm weeks together, we might even see some bluefish arrive.

You can contact Dickson for charter information at (843) 458-3055.

JEFFREY WEEKS is a fishing columnist for the Beacon. You may reach him at saltyweeks@gmail.com or follow updated fishing reports on his blog at http://saltyweeks.blogspot.com.