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Finally broke my NC inshore skunk yesterday in the Hampstead/Topsail region. This was my first trip to this area so I used a Top Spot map to help get me pointed in the right direction. Beautiful morning for fishing, lots of sun, no fog, and just a slight breeze. Fished a creek area close to the ramp on an incoming tide and had some success almost immediately. Had a nice flounder on the line but lost it close to the boat, I'll be experimenting with the hook I have in that rig as this is the second flounder I have lost on it. I was using a Mr. Wags in Chart Blue and a small white grub, looks like a fish chasing the grub. The flounder hit the grub with the small hook in it but shook off just before I could get it in the boat. The hook was no worse for wear, but I just don't think it was big enough to really get into the fish's jaw. Next time flounder! Drifted back into the creek with the tide, and casted just up current of an exposed oyster bar where the water was flowing around and into deeper water. Got hit just after dropping off the edge and reeled in my first NC Inshore fish ever. Turned out to be a nice 18" trout that went about 3 pounds. I nearly wet myself with excitement when I had the fish safely over the edge of my gunwale. It was returned unharmed to the water and swam away healthy to be caught another day, next time he'll be dinner. Water temp was about 69. Moved into a grassy flat where there seemed to be a lot of bait activity, and I could see the wake of what appeared to be larger fish cruising, but I was not able to get anything to bite back in there, but I did reel in a significant amount of seaweed. Not sure what this fine, hair-like stuff is officially called, but it pretty much came in with every cast. Motored back up to where I started and did the drift again. Drifted just past the area where I caught my first trout, couldn't pull two from that spot although I casted there several more times, but I did see a similar area where water was moving from shallow to deeper water on the other side of the channel. Gave that a cast in the same manner as before, and another hook up! The grin stayed on my face for quite some time after landing another keeper trout at 17-1/2".

Still had some time to kill before the tide started to fall out of the creeks so I motored out to try some of the marshes before running to a spot that shall remain un-named to try to catch some more inshore species. I looked for the same scenario out in the marshes, water flowing from shallow to deeper, and wouldn't you know I hooked up again, this time with a fiesty little blue fish who was not happy at all about having a boga grip in his mouth. No more hook ups out there, but I think that angry blue came back and bit the tail off of one of my Mr. Wags just to spite me.

Made the run to my secret spot, had some lunch, again waiting for the tide to be where I was told it gets the best results. Moved into the first spot I was going to try and the wind just kicked my butt. The morning had next to no wind but this was making 6+ inch chop on the grass flat. Being new to this area, I entered upwind and blew into a redfish feeding frenzy. After spooking them trying to get to a spot I could use my stick-it and make some casts, I was unsurprisingly not able to get any of them to bite one of my offerings. Tried several different pockets, with identical results, spooking fish first, then casting. This did not work! Water temps on the flats were just over 70, btw. Moving on to my next spot, I found an anchored boat right in the middle with two anglers on board, so much for that. I had one more spot to try up in the creek, but the wind would have it's day. It kicked up even more chop and I didn't see any signs of life back there at all even after finding a little spot sheltered from the wind, at which point a guy in a row boat went in between me and where I planned to cast. Seems as though the wind blew all the dirty water back to this point so what was crystal clear at the head of the creek, was now quite muddy with maybe less than a foot of visibility. I decided to call it a day after 9 hours on the water and the wind blowing like it was for my run back to the ramp, so my quest for reds continues.

Loved my day. Wanted to say thank you to a couple forum members for reaching out to me with guidance and tips, I'm sure I wouldn't have had this type of success if it weren't for your help. Birdman571, Greenmonster, NCPierman, and the IceCreamMan, thanks for taking the time to mentor a newbie like me. And thanks to this forum and all its great posters, I've read and learned a lot from you sharing your adventures here.



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