Welcome to Salt Water Fly Fishing

Welcome to Fly Fishing The Salt! If you are just discovering the joys of fly fishing the salt (or salt chuck as some call it) here you will find information to steer you in the right direction. Tips on what equipment to use, why, where and how to fish. And we will try to include a little inspiration to get you going. For the experienced salt water angler, there will be personal stories about real fishermen and their experiences, tips on what flies for which fish and techniques that work. Your stories and articles are also most welcome. Share the knowledge and adventure. Pass it on! This is for you.


Core Creek

Captain Doug Sinclair, Alliance, North Carolina

There is so much water in Eastern North Carolina that you could go to a different creek everyday and not visit the same one for weeks on end. The history of the area between Beaufort and Pamlico Sound is well documented in a number of books. North Carolina's written history began in the sixteenth century with the voyages of Sir Walter Raleigh and the founding of the ill-fated Lost Colony on Roanoke Island. But there is a deeper, unwritten past that predates the state's recorded history. The region we now know as North Carolina was settled more than 10,000 years ago, but because early inhabitants left no written record, their story must be painstakingly reconstructed from the fragmentary and fragile archaeological record they left behind.

We know there were many battles fought especially during the Civil War. On 7 March 1863 Confederate forces of the 43rd and 63rd North Carolina Calvary Regiments clashed with Union Infantry near Core Creek, an area of pristine wilderness and open areas steeped with wild plums. At that time there was no direct passage to the Neuse River, except by going around Core Sound and Cedar Island and then meeting the Neuse River at the south end of Pamlico Sound...a treacherous trip. Deep water access by canals would become important as New Bern became a major trading port.

In 1891 the government acquired old Clubfoot Creek - Harlow Creek Canal linking Newport with Pamlico Sound. Maintaining a navigable canal was difficult and a new canal was built paralleling it in 1910. The Adams Creek Canal was connected to Core Creek and offered a much deeper and more manageable access for commercial vessels drawing up to 10 feet. There were other benefits for anglers. It now provided access for many fish species to migrate, spawn and grow. Tides run strong along the canal and fishing can be absolutely wonderful.

At the mouth of Core Creek, where it meets Adams Creek at Marker 21, there are two flats on either side of the inter-coastal waterway (ICW). On the right side heading towards the Newport River there is a small cove that harbors puppy drum in the tall grass. This is not an area to wade, unless you like mud up to your hips. The mud flat is flushed with bait fish from tidal action. The bite is usually from slack high tide to the out running tide.

The other side is Bell's and Eastman Creek. Both creeks consist of muddy, oyster bottom and you'll find puppy drum and speckled trout there. Deep back into these creeks you'll find a lot of bait fish meandering along the grass line and many predator fish stalking them. If you go just a little farther down Core Creek and then take a sharp right into the top of the Newport River, you'll find Oyster Creek. As the name implies, it is not an area for wade fishing. The best way to fish these areas is to cast to the grass line and use a steady stripping action. Best flies to use are #2 green/white Clouser Minnow or a light colored shrimp imitation.

Ask Lee Padgett. He'll tell you that this is the best area to catch fish, especially puppy drum. The fish in this area run about 23-24 inches. You will also catch bluefish, Spanish mackerel, jack cravelle, speckled trout, flounder, croaker, and even large mouth bass.

Lee, Heinz and I met at Seagate Marina in Havelock (west side of Adams Creek Canal). Seagate has a great launch ramp. The launch fee is $5.00 but well worth the expense. You'll more than make up for that by the amount of fish you will catch.

We headed down Adams Creek for the small mud flat on the right side of Marker 21. We shut down and I pole us into the flat. This area is secluded from the rush of boats on the ICW. We saw pushes and bursts...tell tale signs of puppy drum. But no one was feeding. Captain John was with a fishing party on the opposite side, so we moved in the opposite direction. After an hour and no hits, I poled out to the ICW and we headed across to Bell's Creek.

Bell's Creek is as pretty as they come. The flat is about three feet deep at low tide. You can use your trolling motors to explore all of it. My favorite spot is the corner near the northeast side. The grass and water can be clear and you can see puppy drum. You can sneak up on them and then with great stealth cast the fly past and in front of them.

Lee sat on the console seat. Confident as he could be, he laid out the cast. I didn't have to do anything. Heinz and I watched as he started the classic strip/pause. Hoping along the bottom the gold/pink copperhead fly chugged along. And, then, almost without fanfare, Lee pulled the rod to the side and set the hook, "BAM!" the line and rod bent down and started to pulsate.

Now Lee was standing. I thought he would swallow his Flor de A. Allones. Smoke filtered into the wind with each bend in the rod. Line was whining on the reel. The puppy drum was in the upper slot limit and pulled hard to fight the hook that was embedded in his lip. A fast run and then the line went slack. Lee wound the line back in... then another run. Lee puffed harder. Like smoke signals from an Indian war party, clouds of white and gray smoke rose to the wind. Finally, we boated the beautiful puppy drum, took pictures and then let him go.

Heinz took the deck next. Using a purple/white big-eye fly he cast to the grass line and without hesitation a speckled trout claimed his fly. The fight was short lived as the small trout (about 2 pounds) gave up and gladly came to the boat to be de-hooked. Taking these hooks out is so easy without the barbs. Don't forget to mash your barbs down next time you are out fly-fishing. The fishing in these creeks was tremendous. My buddies caught puppy drum, speckled trout, and bluefish. We fished until the tide was down and then headed home. If you want fast moving water…hot fly-fishing action, try Core Creek next time you're down in Eastern North Carolina. ~ Doug

About Doug:

Capt Doug Sinclair is a saltwater fly-fishing guide, casting instructor, writer and photographer from Alliance (Oriental), North Carolina. You can find him on the web at www.flyfishcarolina.com or call him at 252.617.5580.


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