Times are Changing

Fishing on the Outer Banks during the Fall transition can produce catches of puppy drum, big drum, Speckled Sea Trout and dozens of other species.

September typically means two things to me – the start of a new school year and Fall fishing. 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 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 is there a lot of interruptions but still a lot of fun.

Fall fishing on the other hand is where those summer lessons are put to the test. The Fall species that move into our waters can be very large and 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 nice schools of native sea mullet, speckled sea trout, puppy drum and bluefish as well as the prized big red drum and many other traditional species such as flounder, sheepshead, sharks and rays and many others.

When fishing in the Summer we typically use light gear. In the Fall season 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 also need to think about how we present our baits. Fresh shrimp, finger mullet or cut baits are your best bets this time of year. Some anglers will stay with fishbites, sand fleas, and even go with artificials and metals. But the key is the action and presentation of your retrieves. This action must match the feeding preferences of your target. 

Weather in the fall is very unpredictable. Outer Banks environment can be brutal on anglers and gear. Preparation is key to a successful outing.

Now is the time to prepare. Our local tackle shops, piers, many of our media outlets and of course my website 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?

Captain’s 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.

Watch for more fall fishing, gear and techniques shortly. 

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony