Gary, of Spec Fever Guide Service, reports that anglers have seen a solid striped bass bite in the Neuse and Trent rivers for much of the winter (with fish ranging from 16-30”), and the fishing should only improve as winter turns to spring. Most of the fish are in a pre-spawn pattern and feeding along deeper ledges and other structure. Soft plastics like D.O.A. CAL-series lures on 1/4 oz. jigheads have been the way to connect with the fish in the deeper water recently, with brighter colors anglers’ best bets at present.
Upriver of New Bern, the spring shad run has begun, and anglers are hooking both hickory and American shad on shad rigs and smaller jigs. Crappie, largemouth bass, and white and yellow perch are feeding in the same areas as the stripers and shad, and they’re falling for the same lures as well.
Mitch, of FishIBX.com, reports that anglers are already seeing solid action with striped bass and shad in central NC’s coastal river systems, and the bite will only improve over March as the weather gets warmer and more consistent. A variety of artificials will fool the stripers, with jig/swimbait combos and multi-lure umbrella rigs some of the best bets.
Smaller ultra-light jigs and spoons are the way to go for the shad, which often feed a bit further upriver than the striped bass.
Fly-casters can also fool both fish on a wide variety of bright minnow-imitating patterns.
Dave, of Knee Deep Custom Charters, reports that despite the icy blasts over the winter and the fishery closure, anglers are still seeing some speckled trout in the lower Neuse River, with most coming from the creeks. Many of the fish are on the small side, but since they can’t be kept until June 15th in any case, they’ll provide rod-bending fun regardless of their size. Soft plastics like D.O.A. CAL baits fished slowly along the bottom are the best bet for the specks in the cooler water.
Striped bass are looking for meals in the Neuse around New Bern and are staging for their spring spawning run upriver. Targeting deeper structure is anglers’ best bet this time of year, and D.O.A. CAL soft baits on heavier heads are the way to go to reach the fish in the depths. As the water warms up a bit with the progression of spring, the fish should begin feeding around structure like stump fields along the shorelines, where anglers can cast Storm Chug Bugs and other topwater plugs to connect.
Richard, of Tar-Pam Guide Service, reports that anglers are seeing some incredible striped bass action along the lower Roanoke River at present, and the keeper season has arrived. Triple digit numbers of stripers have been rewarding anglers on some recent days in the Roanoke, and most are falling for Z-Man soft plastic baits rigged on jigheads. The action should hold steady over the coming month as the fish continue to move upriver in preparation for their spring spawn.