There is a saying; "Match the hatch to the catch"
Fish feed on what the local baits are located in the same area. While sand fleas are located in the oceans surf, they are not up rivers or creeks. Fish will follow different baits, different times of the year. Wintertime, the baits go inland towards deeper holes where temps remain mostly constant. The O2 levels in the water will play a part also. Minnows, real or fake, will be best baits in the creeks this time of year.
Right now is a transition time between being cool and wanting to turn warm. The fishing can be cold today and tomorrow catch a few. Winter is always slow inside and in the surf zones.
Now in a couple more months the fishing will take off and all you can do is hold on. The finger mullet is propably one of the favorite live baits for reds. Fish them on a caroling rig, set the pole in a good sturdy holder, and wait.
Other types of bait work as well and most have been mentioned above. Don't forget topwater baits, Zara Spooks, Top Dog, She dog, Spittin' Imiage and many more.
SunDrop is right about making sure the crab is legal size. Here's the current regs as it's a little complicated:
[FONT=arial, helvetica]5" Carapace Width (Minimum)
6 3/4" Carapace Width (Maximum) [/FONT]Mature female crabs are exempt from minimum size. Maximum size is effective September through April and applies to mature females only.
Obviously it's important to be able to tell the difference between a male and a female blue crab. Here's an easy way to tell the difference between a male and female blue crab. Males have blue claws, and females have the tips of their claws "painted" red.
The better way to tell the gender and also whether a female is "mature" or not is by the shape of the abdomen. Here's a link that has some great illustrations: BLUECRAB.INFO - Blue Crab Identification
red wigglers, and night crawlers also do great for live bait in the creeks of the neuse for reds or black drum. great in beards creek. so i imagine sand worms and blood worms would also be good, but more costly i think..........catbird
Just one bait I did not see mentioned is a DOA popping cork they work well for me along the deeper cut banks in the creeks. The nice thing about them is they are ready to fish out of the pack. You can also change thinds up by putting on Gulp or a live minnow or shrimp. I had good luck with that this fall in the river.
how far back do the trout and reds stack up in the creeks off of the neuse , say in goose or beards creek, maybe two- thirds back, or futher. maybe in deep cuts or holes. never fished in the winter for them, but wanted to try. don
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