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Redfish remain best catch for inshore fishing

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By Jeffrey Weeks, Fishing Correspondent

The fishing season is in full swing in Brunswick County as bluefish, redfish, flounder and trout are all showing up in greater numbers and hitting well. The best fishing is now at the edges of the day in the morning and again before sunset, but there are some fish moving around just about all the time now.

Bluefish have been running on the piers and in the surf, and fishing Gotcha-style pencil plugs from the piers is a great, fun way to catch them. Popular colors are the standard red head, white body Gotcha as well as plugs with pink bodies and yellow headed, silver-bodied models. If Spanish mackerel are around, they favor Gotchas with yellow heads and gold or silver bodies.

Blues can also be caught on the bottom by pier and surf fishermen on just about any natural bait, although fresh, bloody cut bait is the best for them. When surf fishing off the beach, you can use a standard rig or a “fireball” rig for blues with cut bait from a mullet or pinfish (or even a bluefish).

Redfish have remained the best inshore bite, as they have been all year. The red drum have moved out of the creeks into the inlets, flats and around structures as well as out at the jetties. Some larger redfish in the 6- to 8-pound class have shown up, too, and are cruising the grass flats running the tide.

The redfish will hit a wide variety of baits, including mud minnows, finger mullet and cut mullet but will also smack artificial lures like Gulp soft baits or gold and silver spoons. Large red drum are working the grass when the tide is moving and can be caught in surprisingly shallow water.

A lot of folks are fishing for flounder and they are catching them in numbers, although the size still is not great. Anglers are drifting or trolling Tubbs Inlet for flounder, although larger fish can be found anchoring up and casting to structures or off points. Most folks are using live mud minnows on Carolina or flounder rigs with a 1 or one-half ounce sinker. Live pinfish or finger mullet are great baits this time of the year, if you can net some.

There have also been better catches of speckled trout inshore, although not as many folks are fishing for them as we remain in a closed season and it is catch and release only. Trout will hit the Gulp and Fishbites scented soft baits on 3/8 or ¼ ounce jig heads, and if you use a trailing crappie jig or fly, you will catch more.

Besides the bluefish, a lot of sea mullet (whiting) have been caught off the piers and in the surf, and this has been an excellent year for them. The best baits are small bits of fresh shrimp fished on the bottom, though sea mullet will also hit squid, bloodworms and even fresh cut bait well. Some small spot have been caught off the piers as well. Don’t forget night fishing on the piers or from the beaches, as that is often when the sea mullet really stage a bite.