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 Fish Post

Pamlico/Neuse – September 2021

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Donald, of Custom Marine Fabrication, reports that old drum action is in full swing throughout the Neuse. If the rain can keep from washing the bait out into the sound, the bite should pick up steadily into the month. Both bottom fishing fresh cut baits and large popping cork setups are the top producing setups for this fishery.

A few tarpon are being hooked in the river by angers bottom fishing for the large reds. Overall, these schools are on their way out, pushing into the sounds and then the ocean.

Speckled trout are moving in a bit along the river shorelines and creek mouths. A variety of popping cork setups, topwater plugs, and live bait are all getting some strikes. This action only gets better as water temperatures cool.

Puppy drum are in these same areas, and all the typical summertime setups are having success along the grass banks and mud flats.

Flounder are being caught from the sound all the way up to New Bern. Keep an eye on weather, and if there is a stretch of wet weather, focus fishing efforts further downriver.


Gary, of Spec Fever Guide Service, reports that citation-class red drum have moved into the river in good numbers and will continue to pile in during September. There is plenty of bait around driving these fish into their spawning grounds, and targeting these bait pods is key for locating a bite. Large popping corks rigged with a 5-6” soft plastic swimbaits are the go-to setups for this fishery. When finding an active group, some anglers also enjoy getting a large drum to rip a topwater plug.

A few tarpon are holding on some the deeper drop-offs and will stick around until water temperatures start to drop a bit.

The slot-sized red drum are just about everywhere along the river shorelines. Topwater plugs and smaller popping cork setups more typical of summertime fishing are working great for getting strikes.

Jake Barbee with a 26″ red drum that was caught using a white 4″ Berkley swimming mullet with a 1/4 oz. jig head. He was fishing the backwaters of the Pungo River.

James, of Neuse River Adventures, reports that there has been plenty of bait hanging up around New Bern, and this has lead to some plentiful mixed bag trips for anglers.

Topwater fishing has been spectacular, producing large striped bass and mid- to upper-slot red drum.

Flounder action has been strong up and down the river. The amount of bait around mixed with the water patterns should keep the flatfish around until the end of October.

Citation-class red drum are moving into the lower part of the river. These schools are following all the bait and are caught best by anglers casting popping corks with soft plastics around ledges and bait balls.


Jeff, of Salt and Swamp Guide Service, reports that good numbers of citation red drum have moved into the estuary in their yearly spawning pattern. There is a lot of bait and shrimp around, and the prevalence of bait has the overall fishery fired up this year. Many are finding some of the better action to be around deeper drop-offs in the 12-15’ depth range. Popping corks are still the go-to tactic for working bait balls around the changing bottoms, with cut bait being the other top producing method.

Targeting areas close to shorelines and creek mouths is rewarding anglers with steady action on slot-sized redfish. Cut or live bait fished up on these flats and river edges has worked well.

Smaller speckled trout are holding in holes along these same shorelines.

Don’t be surprised to see schools of spanish mackerel and bluefish in the area, as they follow the large amount of bait right into the river.


Todd, of Neuse River Bait and Tackle, reports that the big talk of the area is centered around the old drum action. Anglers are finding better numbers of fish moving into the estuary as they follow baits on their seasonal spawning pattern.

Anglers on the water early are most often rigged with popping cork setups paired with a large soft plastic swimbait. These are cast around bait balls and ledges in the river and sound. There isn’t a need to target every bait ball, but rather focus on ones that seem to be disturbed or “tightened up,” most likely by fish feeding beneath them.

The other top tactic is bottom fishing. This is great for anglers headed out in the evening or on days the water is too broken up to sight-cast. Fresh mullet rigged on Lupton rigs are great fished on these shoal ledges or “drum highways.”

Plenty of puppy drum are also piled up along the river shorelines. Topwater plugs and popping cork setups are both great for targeting these points and grass banks.

There are plenty of flatfish in the river, and both live minnows and soft plastics will produce some strikes.

Kim Sadler, from Alliance, with a 3.7 lb. speckled trout that fell for a piece of cut bait in the Pamlico Sound.

Richie, of East Side Bait and Tackle, reports that citation red drum action is underway, with catches from the lower Pamlico and Bay rivers and into the sound. Anglers are having good success with fresh cut bait on Lupton rigs fished along the drop-offs and shoals. Popping cork fishing is a favorite for local anglers as they target bait schools with larger 5” soft plastic paddle-tails.

A few tarpon are in the mix for anglers fishing deeper drop-offs from the Bath area out into the sound.

Speckled trout action has been steady, with some of the best action along riverbanks around Swan Quarter and Rose Bay.

Flounder are being caught right alongside the trout, and the best tactics have been soft plastics bounced along the bottom and Carolina-rigged live bait.

Slot-sized red drum are holding along grass banks, with areas around creek mouths being particularly productive as they use these areas to ambush bait.


Mitchell, of FishIBX, reports that trophy red drum fishing has kicked off on the lower sections of the river and into the sound. Anglers are getting strikes while working bait balls with popping cork rigs and topwater plugs.

There is a good number of smaller redfish on the flats and up against the banks, and these shoreline edges are also holding flounder.

Striped bass fishing has been phenomenal, with plenty of fish still around for those working topwater plugs.