September 12, 2012

Outer Banks Angling: Let’s get it started


The official beginning of fall is just over a week away, but Mother Nature is giving us a little head start.

The weather has turned around quickly, like a person walked into a room and threw a switch.

Labor Day weekend saw some serious heat for all three days, and now after Hurricane Leslie skirted us we now have much cooler temps and lower humidity.

It’s a sure sign that fall is almost here.

As anglers, we await these temps to force the fall migration. Baitfish and the fish that feed on them push out of the sound and Chesapeake Bay and begin to forage for winter.

If the weather cooperates, anglers can have a chance at some good fall fishing.

Surf, pier, boat, and kayak fishermen are all getting the gear ready in the hopes of a good season.

Anglers are cleaning rods and reels and doing a little tackle shopping prepping for the moment.

The Internet is buzzing with folks who are prepared to leave for an annual trip or take off if the fish start biting. I know the people and businesses of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are more than happy to oblige them.

After Hurricane Irene almost devastated the entire fall season for most of Hatteras Island last year, the local folks are hoping and crossing their fingers that no weather will impede the 2012 fall rush of anglers.

There are new rules and regulations on the beaches of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands that affect every type of user, but from the buzz on the internet, the people are still coming.

Most cannot easily give up the fishing they love so much and others refuse to throw in the towel to the environmental groups and the National Park Service.

I think this is great, and I think if the weather is kind, that the sacrifices will be worth it.

Fishing has been productive for most of this year.

The offshore fleets have had a stellar year, and inshore fishing from surf and boat has been very decent.

Excellent numbers of citation sea mullet and pompano have been captured by surf anglers. The boats did well in the spring with big drum and recently boaters have been finding schools again.

The juvenile speckled trout and puppy drum population is booming. A mild winter has lead to an overflow of these very weather-sensitive fish.

The small 12- to 16-inch puppy drum have dominated in a lot of area fishing reports. From the surf and piers these feisty little creatures have provided a lot of entertainment for anglers.

Scattered reports of slot-limit puppy drum and a few yearling drum have come in from Cape Point. A few nice citation drum have been reported from Ocracoke Island.

The red drum is a highly sought after local fall fish, and many anglers will chase them hard. It is a welcomed sign that they are biting well now, and we can hope that this is a sign of things to come.

Sea mullet, spot, and croaker are all fall fish and they have been biting fair up and down the surf of Hatteras and Ocracoke and are also being caught from the piers.

Bluefish and scattered Spanish mackerel continue to make the reports from pier and surf. 

As the water cools down, the numbers of Spanish mackerel will decrease considerably, but the bluefish should continue to bite for weeks to come.

There are still reports that pompano are being caught, but they also will soon disappear as the water cools.

Inshore boats around Ocracoke and Hatteras inlets are still finding big red drum when weather permits.

Inshore boats out of Ocracoke, Hatteras, and Oregon inlets are finding speckled trout, gray trout, flounder, and puppy drum when weather allows for a day of fishing.

Nearshore, they are still catching bluefish and Spanish mackerel in good numbers.

Hatteras offshore fleets have been doing well catching wahoo and a few mahi-mahi.

Oregon Inlet offshore boats continue to hammer the white marlin and sailfish. The yellowfin and blackfin tuna fishing remains solid also.

People wading and kayaking the sound waters continue to catch the small puppy drum, speckled trout, and flounder.

The new inlet created by Hurricane Irene has been producing some nice catches of flounder for those parking along Highway 12 and walking in.

So I am excited. Another fall fishing season is beginning and with a little luck I can begin to write more thorough fishing reports, rather than focusing on the weather.

I definitely recognize that the fall weather can be very hectic, but my spirits remain high about the catches this year.

So get your gear ready, change the oil in your truck, and be ready to roll -- fall is here.

(Rob Alderman is the owner of the Hatteras Island Fishing Militia website and is a kayak fishing guide. Rob has 10 years of fishing experience on the Outer Banks, and is host of the “Outer Banks Angler” television show. You can follow more of his extreme adventures or contact him at

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