The inshore fishing around Topsail Island has been great so far this winter. Speckled trout, black drum, and redfish are accounting for the majority of action in the marsh.
The speckled trout fishing, like the rest of the inshore species are in a full on winter time pattern despite that above average temperatures we have been seeing so far. I’ve been having the greatest success throwing live mud minnows under floats. The fish are also responding well to Z-Man soft plastics as well. You have to fish slowly to get the bites and keeping your bait within 18″ or so from the bottom will get the most attention. Using Pro-Cure bait scents is also a must this time of year. The trout will follow a slowly retrieved bait for a while when the water is cold and having that scent trail will encourage the fish to strike.
One of the best tips I can give you is to down size and lengthen your fluorocarbon leaders. I will routinely go down to 10 pound leader and sometimes run a 6+ for leader. It’ll make a big difference, especially on those blue bird days.
Let’s talk about the wintertime red and black drum fishing. Wintertime is one of my favorite times to target redfish and black drum. The bite has been exceptional this winter so far and I don’t see it slowing down for the next couple months as long as we don’t see any prolonged cold.
Fresh cut shrimp and hard crab fished on the bottom using a Carolina rig or a knocker rig will get the job done. Focus your efforts around hard bottom, oyster beds, docks, canals, boat basins, and mainland creeks.
The bulk of the fish that we have been seeing have been under sized fish in the 16-18″ range. There have been a few slot sized fish in the mix, but they have honestly been a needle in a hay stack.
Use circle hooks while fishing cut bait for the drum, it will allow for far fewer guy hooked fish. I like VMC Sureset circles in 4/0-6/0 sizes and I will rarely use larger than 3/8 egg sinkers.
The nearshore fishing is going to be entirely bottom fishing this time of year. Black Sea bass are going to account for the majority of the haul with a few vermilions, tautogs, grunts, triggerfish, and porgies.
Chicken rigs baited with squid and metal jigs will get the job done on all the species listed above.

Thank you for the read and feel free to call us at South End Anglers for any questions you may have regarding Topsail Island Fishing or to book a trip. Mention this fishing report and receive a discount on your next booking.


Capt. C

South End Anglers