Strong tides have a big impact on local fishing

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Warmer than normal temperatures so far this year have anglers hoping for a late fall, and it looks as if that is what might happen. October was a bit more streaky than usual, but there are a lot of fish being caught now.

I hate to sound like a meteorologist, but higher than normal water temperatures with a succession of cold fronts followed by sunny days make for great fishing weather, especially if the fish are still biting. Also, strong tides influenced by the moon are having a big impact on local fishing.

Inshore, pretty much everything that should be hitting is doing so, with speckled trout being the top catch. Trout are around all their usual spots and live bait is still the top way to go, with trout feeding on the shrimp and mullet flowing out of the creeks. Early morning is a great time for going after specks, especially if you can get a lowering tide.

Those chasing specks with artificial lures can probably find success using soft baits around the creek mouths and hard structure during times when the tide is moving. Also MirrOlure and other hard plugs, which are bigger baits, can be tossed in the morning around the usual trout holes. The larger plugs imitate the finger mullet roaming around right now, which are in huge schools and mostly larger than “finger” size.

There are still plenty of flounder around inshore and up on the piers. A lot of them are throwbacks, but some nice ones are being caught as well. The flounder are hitting the same baits as the trout, only from the bottom up.

One of the larger finger mullet on a fishfinder rig is hard to beat right now for flounder fishing. Mud minnows or other small baitfish will do, however. Drifting or trolling in the flats and inlets will produce some flounder, though the largest ones are lying around structure like bridge and dock pilings, waiting to ambush their meals.

Red drum are also dining on the mullet, with puppy drum roaming inshore and some really big bull reds being caught out at the inlets and jetties. Like the trout, redfish are really running the tide right now, taking advantage of the big baitfish schools.

A lot of people wondering which tide is best to fish refer to high or low, but usually the correct answer is moving. A lowering tide brings baitfish and shrimp out of the creeks and marsh grass. Similarly, a rising tide will bring all the bait back in. What you want is a tide that is a few hours old and is really kicking up some current.

Finding a tide that is running quickly is only a matter of waiting around right now, as the moon is giving us some extreme tides that get the bait and the gamefish very active. However, that also means fishing when tides are highest or lowest may not be effective as the predators are picking their moments to be active.

Schools of speckled trout and redfish will hover around areas of heavy water, waiting in places the current is a little less to ambush the mullet schools. The mullet, no dummies themselves, will be hugging the shoreline and any structure trying not to lose position in the extreme tides and get swept to the predators.

The best places to fish are the areas where the trout and drum will be waiting. It’s wise to allow your bait or lure to be brought to them as naturally as possible, so you have to read the tide a little and try to pick out places of slightly deeper water right on the edge of the shallows, where the gamefish will be gathered.

On the piers, the spot runs have continued off and on in their hit-and-miss style. There have also been some nice catches of sea mullet and gray trout when the spot aren’t biting.

As with inshore anglers, the folks on the piers or in the surf are feeling the effect of the moon as well and having the most luck on tides that are a few hours old and really moving. Often the spot and other fish will really start hitting around midtide, bite well for an hour or two, and then turn off for a few hours until the tide starts running back in the other direction.

On the piers and inshore, there are sheepshead and black drum around any pilings if you know how to fish for them. There are also still bluefish and pompano in the surf, a sure sign fall isn’t over yet. Some of the pompano still around are large.

One thing seems clear and that is fishing is a little behind schedule and all of our fall fish continue to be active. Just be aware of the tidal situation and try to concentrate your efforts when you’ll be rewarded. There is plenty of bait still in the water, and plenty of fish still on the move.

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.