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The weather patterns sweeping through the Brunswick Islands have been difficult for fishermen and fish to get adjusted to. We experienced all kinds of temperatures last week from lows well into the 30s and highs well into the 70s. Controlling the temperature inside our homes has been a challenge, as we go from needing heat one day and air-conditioning the next day. We must be thankful we have the ability to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature. Still, many folks are getting the sniffles because the weather has been so unstable. I can’t imagine how the redfish and trout feel in their environment now.
Redfish and trout will remain the target species throughout the rest of our so-called winter season. These fish have only two choices when the weather changes rapidly: Hunker down, waiting for the conditions to improve, or make a move, looking for better conditions nearby. In the winter months, the water temperature is usually hanging around the 50-degree mark during average years. Redfish and trout will usually hang around in the same creek that you find them in all winter. Redfish typically like to get extremely shallow on black mud flats to soak up a few degrees of warmth from the sunshine. Trout in most cases will stay in deeper water, but I have also seen them in extremely shallow water. Targeting the outgoing tide or the lowest parts of the tide is extremely important to have the best success this time of year.
On Friday, Dec. 6, I got out in the foggy, warm conditions to scout the action. My first stop was in an area that usually is only producing a fish or two, but they are usually good ones. Casting a MirrOlure 52 MR series III in electric chicken color produced a few short strikes. Receiving a few bumps, I stuck with it, changing up my retrieve speed. A 4.6-pound speckled trout finally committed to busting that lure. I fished the area a few more minutes without another bite before moving into a creek that produces more bites this time of year. I changed over to throwing soft plastics on a light jig head, working the edges of the bank. It took a color change and a very slow retrieve to find the bite. Albino ghost was the color the trout liked this particular day. They also wanted to see it fall and pause for a very long time. I would say 90 percent of my bites came after a long pause, meaning that the trout picked it up off the bottom. After picking on the trout for a few hours, I decided to head back to the house for a quick lunch and wait for the tide to get low.
Clean water conditions at low tide this time of year usually allows for some sight fishing opportunities for redfish. Conditions are everything when it comes to having success looking for schools of redfish. During my few short years, I have learned to use the conditions in my favor. It is very important to pay attention to wind direction, current and the angle of the sun. I often locate schools of redfish days before I actually attempt to catch them. After finding a school of redfish this time of year, I notice they usually don’t move much. After I have located a few schools, I wait for the right conditions that will help me approach them quietly enough to see them and not spook them. I will use the current or wind as my power source as much as possible to approach these fish as quietly as possible. Making long cast with soft plastics up current or well ahead of cruising fish can be successful. It is important to see the fish and not throw directly on top of them. They will spook and you will be back on the search again. I prefer to use soft plastics, allowing the bait to tumble to the fish with the current or again throwing well ahead of cruising fish, swimming the bait across their noses.
Approaching one of my favorite areas Friday afternoon, about 50 redfish swam under the boat. I was able to bust a 24-incher at the back of the school. I eased on down and saw several more small ones, picking up another 19-incher. I was throwing a light jig head with Bass Assassin’s 4-inch sea shad in its green moon color pattern. I continued to throw soft plastics in front of them for a while, but they had lost interest in that offering. I had about two-dozen live shrimp in the live well. I decided to cheat and start floating live shrimp to them. I ran out of shrimp after catching several in the 23- to 26-inch range with the biggest one topping out at 29 inches.
This year is not yet over, so get out of that warm house and have some fun. See ya on the water.
Capt. Jacob Frick, who has 10 years of knowledge and experience in guiding family, friends, and clients in the backwater surrounding Ocean Isle Beach, is a fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at (803) 315-3310 or email@example.com for additional information or questions about his columns.