Labor Day has come and gone and the official 2015 tourist season has come to an end on the Outer Banks, even though, according to the calendar, we still have a few weeks of summer left.
The road traffic during the week is already much lighter. Schools are back in session, and the weekends are full of college and NFL football games.
Yep. Fall is here. I personally love the fall fishing season the most.
While spring fishing generally sees the fish pushing in from the south with warm water, the fall can ignite good fishing from one end of the Banks to another. The water is already warm and the cooling of the air and water will cause fish to migrate and take the bait from pier, surf, and boat anglers from Carova to Ocracoke.
This entices many fishermen to the Outer Banks and gives them many options for chasing the fish.
Some anglers are content posting up in a particular village or area of the Outer Banks and fishing whatever comes their way. Some anglers will chase the fall bite, no matter where the action is or how much driving they have to do.
It doesn’t matter how you decide to fish, this is typically the best time to be doing it.
Fall is also the time when we see seasonally closed beaches gradually reopen. Cape Point reopened to vehicle traffic the weekend prior to Labor Day, and I managed to slip out there the middle of last week.
Right away, upon driving out, I noticed a turtle nest that will probably get interesting in the weeks to come. That’s all I have to say about that.
The Point itself was relatively big, but I am sure parking will be tight on the weekends, though during my trip out there was ample room for vehicles. My stepson and I launched kayaks next to the closure closest to The Hook.
The two of us made our way from inside The Hook to off the tip of The Point and into the shoals.
The weather was pleasant and the currents were favorable, so we were able to investigate the shoals thoroughly.
The Point has shaped up nicely for fall fishing from the beach. Currently there is no structure that would impede fish from coming in. It’s wide-open water. There are a couple small sand islands just off the tip, but the water surrounding them is deep and this little bit of structure will actually be good for the fishing.
During our five-hour trip, we saw and caught plenty of nice size Spanish mackerel. We saw a fair amount of false albacore, but these fish were moving fast and popping up sporadically all around us. We never seemed to be close enough to fire on them.
We did see an unbelievable amount of sharks. Spinner sharks definitely dominated the shoals, but there were a few other species making their presence known.This is very typical at this time of year out there, and I was not alarmed by it.
Spinner sharks are known for their aerobatic display — flying through the air and spinning like a bullet. It was common place to have them flying through the air at times only feet from us.
I was having trouble deciding what would be worse — dealing with a shark attacking our catch beside the kayak or a 150-pound toothy critter landing on my neck.
Either way, for the thrill-seeker this was prime ground. I will warn as I always do that Cape Point in a kayak can, could and will end your life if you are not prepared for it. I do not recommend this launch, even on the prettiest days, to a novice or intermediate kayak angler. The current can be tough and the predators even tougher.
Launching and heading into the hook should be manageable for most, but, even then, the current can be pulling from deep inside and straight into the shoals. This will lead to a constant battle and only the strongest paddlers will be able to handle it.
I do not write about this stuff to encourage kayakers to hit the water here. I write about it to share with the surf anglers what I’ve seen.
We didn’t see many bluefish that day, as the sharks had them corralled nicely and were decimating them. However, we did see a tremendous amount of mullet cruising through the water, which is a great sign for fall fishing.
In recent weeks, the Spanish mackerel fishing from shore has been really good, and these mullet play heavily into that bite.
I’d expect to see some yearling and scattered citation drum making an appearance at Cape Point very soon. I am positive that battling your way through the sharks will be a given in the earliest parts of these runs.
Some puppy drum have been caught out there from time to time and that will also improve in the weeks to come.
Surf fishing overall for the islands has been a little scattered, but that will improve as September winds on. Sea mullet, pompano, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, small flounder, spot and croaker have all made the reports.
There have been some citation drum caught from Hatteras Island. There are some out there, but you have to do your homework and hunt for them. The anglers putting in the work have found a few.
As always, no one knows more about what’s going on in the surf than those who work in the tackle shops. Information passes in front of them all day, everyday. Going to them for their advice is a wise choice. The owners and employees can point you in a direction with the tackle you need to get the job done.
Rodanthe and Avon pier anglers have seen a mixture of sea mullet, pompano, flounder, spot, croaker, blues, and Spanish. Scattered fish, such as king mackerel, drum and tarpon, have found their way into the live baits of the end of the piers.
Fall will always lead to an increase of pier anglers, and I expect the reports to increase with the volume of anglers.
Offshore fishing out of Hatteras and Ocracoke inlets is yielding great mahi and wahoo fishing, with scattered billfish.
Offshore out of Oregon Inlet has produced great mahi bites, along with solid billfishing. Scattered wahoo have been taken, and yellowfin tuna have made an appearance again and have had a few solid bites.
Inshore fishing on both ends have produced puppy drum, citation drum, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and albacore.
Boat fishing is solid, and the time is still good for calling and booking an inshore or offshore trip.
It’s September on the Outer Banks. Expect the weather to be all over the place. Some days will be hot, others will be cool. Some days will there will be no wind, and others the wind will be pumping. One day, the skies will be clear, and the next, the lightning will be ripping all day.
All of this is part of the early fall. Do not let extended forecasts prevent you from going fishing, as this could be a major letdown. Extended forecasts had called for a rainy Labor Day weekend, and we barely saw any moisture.
Just go fishing and adjust accordingly.
Fall is a great season on the Outer Banks. Join us for it.
Go fishing and play hard.
(Rob Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 13 years and has worked in the recreational fishing industry the entire time. A former variety fishing TV show host, beach fishing guide, tackle shop and pier employee, Rob currently owns and operates Outer Banks Kayak Fishing. He is on the Pro-Staff of Bending Branches LLC, Wilderness Systems Kayaks, Release Reels, Yakattack and is an ambassador for Ugly Stik. You can follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)