WhenThis is the time of year to find fish – big fish – and the schools of baitfish make finding them relatively easy. Red drum, bluefish, tarpon, and cobia – they all follow the bait, and they can all be caught this time of year.
WhereIn the fall, before any big cold fronts move through, getting into and outside the inlets up and down the eastern seaboard is relatively easy. Winds are generally calmer this time of year, and the seas have subsided enough to allow smaller fishing boats to work their way along the beaches.
HowThe methods to catching these big fish are fairly simple. Some fish the inlets themselves, either from a boat of the shore. Some fish the beaches with surf anglers enjoying the height of their fishing season at this time.
If you plan to fish the inlets, you can either anchor (outside the channel markers!) or drift with the tide. Anchoring usually means fishing on the bottom. Drifting usually means free lining a live bait – like a mullet – as you drift. Bottom fishing will yield some of the largest red drum of the year and some awfully big flounder. Drifting can hook you up with tarpon and big jack crevalle.
In the SurfAlong the beaches, surf anglers will find those same big reds, flounder, bluefish, and cobia. The action in the surf can be fast and furious when a school of big bluefish comes through.
I have seen the results of a bluefish school at Cape Hatteras in the fall. The flounder would generally be under the school of bait and blues and would be feeding on the bits and pieces of bait the blues had chopped up. I have seen the flounder being chased by bluefish and in turn chasing mullet so hard that they actually swam up onto the beach. Anglers were running around picking up flounder on the sand after a wave subsided. All the while, the blues were tearing the water up in the breakers.