September typically means two things to me – the start of a new school year and fall fishing on the Outer Banks. In the fall, classrooms and school buses get crowded and popular fishing spots become deserted. But just like school, there are many lessons to be learned when fishing between the summer and the fall on the Outer Banks.
Summer fishing is a lot like swinging in a hammock. You find a seat in the shade maybe on the pier or maybe under an umbrella on the surf. You cast your bottom rig out and wait for something to come by and take it. Summer fishing is usually very slow and kind of easy going. There are always plenty of small bottom fish to keep you busy. So as you can see those lazy summer fishing days are a lot like swinging on that hammock. Not real exciting nor a lot interruptions but still a lot of fun.
Fall fishing on the other hand are where the summer lessons you learned are put to the test. The fall species that move into our waters can be very large and both aggressive and fast. These fish are aware that their main food source will be scarce in the coming months so they must feed aggressively.
The Florida pompano will be leaving for warmer waters soon and two of our most popular fall visitors will be taking their place. The Norfolk Spot and Atlantic croaker are a huge draw on the local piers in the fall. The Norfolk “Spot Run” occurs in mid to late September. During these runs, it is easy to fill a cooler in a matter of hours.
A short time later we begin to see the native speckled sea trout, puppy drum and bluefish as well as the huge red drum and many other non-traditional species such as sharks and rays and many others join them.
When fishing in the summer we typically use light gear. In the fall and with the onslaught of huge and aggressive species moving in, we need to consider the use of stiffer and heavier gear. Larger rods, heavier reels, more stout lines and of course stronger rigs. We need to think about how we present our baits. Fresh finger mullet or cut baits are your best bets this time of year. Some anglers will stay with artificial but their types of jigs, the action and their retrieves must match the prey.
Weather in the fall is so unpredictable. Outer Banks environment can be brutal on anglers and gear. So you need to plan accordingly.
Now is the time to prepare. Our local tackle shops, many media outlets and of course my blog can help make this year’s fishing experience one to remember.
Fishing in the fall on one of the local piers or the surf can be one of most enjoyable times. Many anglers travel hundreds of miles just to fish this time of year in our waters. Will you be joining us this year?
Captains Tip – always keep a light tackle rod set with you at all times in the fall. Hot action with a light rod and big fish are what memories are made of.
More on fall fishing, gear and techniques in near future – so check back often.
Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony