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Elizabeth City from the Locals' Point of View

Water Temperatures – Elizabeth City’s Fishing with Mike

This time of year the water temperature can either make or break your day on the water, but if you know what to look for you can use this information to your advantage.

In the wintertime the water temps around here can drop into the low 40s but with the recent freeze they hit the high 30s which pretty much shut the fishing down to maybe a catfish here or there. It is almost like the fish have disappeared but in truth they just slowed down their metabolism in order to cope with the cold. The good news is that the temps are going to rise and they don’t need much to get the fish back on the feed again. We have another cold front passing through this weekend but the temps are going to rise for the next few days afterward so that is when we need to get out on the water. Sunday and Monday are going to be near 60 degrees and that sun will warm the northern banks of the rivers and ponds. Then you add in a wind out of the south to push that water to the northern banks and you have the makings of a good pattern for largemouth. Watch you temperature and look for spots that hold the warmer water, then throw baits like jigs and crank baits up into the water and work them down the drop-offs. If you can find a spawning flat that will be even better because the big females will be hanging around those areas feeding up for the spawn. This is a classic pre-spawn pattern that will work when the water temperatures begin to reach the mid-40 degree range.

For stripers it is the same thing with water temps but they are fond of any water over 45 degrees. I went to the sound bridge last week and found the bait but the water was only 42 degrees and I know from experience that it was going to be a tough day. We had a few short strikes but no fish and when I got back to the docks it seemed that we all had a similar day with no fish caught. Once the water temperature reaches 45 degrees they should turn back on again and that should be around the middle of next week looking at the forecast.

The fishing reports for this past week are slim to say the least. The guys from Wicked Tuna are out fishing and have brought some bluefin back to the docks, but they seem to be some of the few that have been going out.

The beach fishing is lacking anglers even though the drum bite is still pretty good down around the point and here and there along the northern beaches. None of the tackle stores have much fresh bait this time of year so most of the fish are coming on bottom rigs with shrimp. If you get lucky enough to catch a small fish like a mullet or croaker then I would use that for bait. We even have had some reds hitting Gulp baits on trout rods so don’t cast too far out when you get there.

Here locally we have had some bass guys getting out this past week fishing in the creeks and the reports seem to have the fish located on the drop-offs in about 8 feet of water. Soft plastics and jigs worked down the ledge seem to have been the ticket. A few guys from the Albemarle Kayak Anglers club went out of Newbegun Creek and found some fish using this pattern and Rick Zipp managed to bring them to the yak. Great job Rick and keep those reports coming. The striper reports are pretty much a bust with no fish that I have heard of lately. That should change come next week with the weather breaking for a few days in a row. If anyone gets out this week send me a report (even if you don’t catch anything) to or hit me up on Facebook at Fishing with Mike and I will be glad to share.

Mike Sweeney is a local fishing coach and he writes about his fishing adventures in the Daily Advance, Albemarle Times and for the Visit Elizabeth City. Click here to book light tackle guide trips for the Albemarle region and Chesapeake Bay for stripers, trout, flounder, spanish mackerel and blues.