October 23, 2017
October Fishing “Change is a good thing”!
By CAPTAIN DAVID WILSON
While September lets you know that change is in the air, October IS the change.
Northeasters and cooler temperatures become more frequent, the air
conditioner gets a break as the windows open more often, and
sweatshirts are pulled out of the closet for the chilly mornings that
can sometimes start out in the high 50s.
While the inshore fishermen have been doing well on speckled trout and
drum for a couple months, both species are at their peak in
Trout, or “spotted weakfish”, can be found in sloughs and around broken
grassy bottom inshore of the reef in the sound. Anglers cast lead
heads with plastic grub tails, and mirro-lures to the colorful and
acrobatic game fish. The recreational limit on speckled trout is
four per person, and the minimum size limit is fourteen inches overall
Red Drum, also called “redfish,” can be caught on fresh cut bait or
often found and “sight casted” to with spoons. Drum are caught in
a variety of sizes and places. Everything from “puppy drum,”
yearlings, and the big drum are caught in October. You are
allowed to keep one fish per day recreationally and they must fall
within the slot size of 18-27 inches overall length. Both trout
and puppy drum are delicious for table fare, and I have no preference,
but most people tend to enjoy the speckled trout more.
Surf fishermen are getting in on the action, and droves of four-wheel
drive vehicles are entering and exiting the various beach access
ramps. While many are headed to Cape Point in search of the big
red drum, they can be found in many other locations along the oceanside
beaches of Hatteras Island. Speckled trout can be found and
casted to in the sloughs along with puppy drum. Bluefish, blow
toads and sea mullet are commonly caught as well.
Offshore, the water temperatures begin cooling and while it’s not out
of the question to hook a sailfish or find some dolphin, these warmer
water species are less abundant in general. Wahoo fishing remains
pretty strong, and yellowfin tuna begin to increase in numbers.
Blackfin tuna remain plentiful, and larger fish become more prevalent.
I’ve always loved king mackerel fishing, both charter and commercial,
and these explosive predators begin to trickle in around the first of
the month and are usually here in great numbers by Halloween.
Live bait fishing for kings is as fast and exciting as anything we do
all year. 20 pound class tackle is generally the preferred gear,
with light wire leaders and small treble hooks. The menhaden or
“fatback” as we call them, is attached and pitched over the side.
Most strikes are on the surface and very close to the boat. As
you watch the nervous baitfish swim frantically to escape their fate,
the anticipation of a “sky rocket” strike is at hand. I’ve seen
king mackerel explode and fly twenty feet in the air with their
captured prey hanging from their mouths! Lightning fast, the
kings make long screaming runs once hooked, but when alongside and
ready to be gaffed, stay clear of the razor sharp teeth while admiring
the long silver fish.
Kings can range from a few pounds to over sixty. They must be a
minimum of 24” fork length (tip of the lower jaw to fork of the tail)
to possess legally. The recreational bag limit is three per
person. The minimum weight of a king mackerel in order to earn a
coveted “citation,” (the good kind, not the bad kind), is thirty
pounds, and citation class fish are common.
Commercially, kings are caught by both trolling and with gill
nets. Usually after the early push of fish, in closer to the
beach, the nets are put away and trolling is the preferred
method. Downriggers and electric/hydraulic reels are used, with
planers that carry the bait down deeper. Spoons and sea witches
with fatback strips are most commonly used for bait. While late
October is the start of king mackerel season for us, I’ve seen it last
through the first of the year.
Change is a good thing and October fishing off of Hatteras is
proof! Don’t miss out on an opportunity to enjoy the season of
cooler weather and hot fishing!