It’s the end of October, and we are well into fall. After a brutal attack from Mother Nature at the end of September and earlier this month , the Outer Banks has had mainly mild weather. — maybe, at times, a little too mild to catch good numbers of the bigger fish.
While citation-sized drum have been caught throughout the month from pier and surf, their numbers haven’t been what some would have liked them to be. But, these fish love rough weather, and it’s rough weather, within reason, that helps to drive them closer to shore.
Looking towards the north beaches from Carova to Oregon Inlet, the drum bite from the piers has been a little slack. The weather just wasn’t there to push them into shore.
However, as numerous kayakers — including me — found out, the fish were there. For about eight to 10 days, kayakers and boaters proved that an unreal amount of citation fish loomed just off the beach. For a lot of us, catching citation after citation seemed the easiest thing we could imagine.
The fish weren’t generally any farther than about 100 yards out of casting range from one of the piers. But, the wind was calm, and there was hardly any current. The factors generally needed to start a solid pier or surf bite were not there.
When the wind went onshore recently, the bite picked up some and yielded reasonable catches from the northern piers but nothing like the numbers seen in years past.
There were still reports of drum being caught at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay over the weekend. The water temps on the northern beaches are still perfect for the chance at another bite as the fish push south from Virginia.
Meanwhile, anglers on Hatteras and Ocracoke have caught drum.
The Point is generally a fall hot spot for drum fishermen, but it remained closed for a while because of flooding after the storms. That forced more anglers to try other spots along the surf and those spots yielded some regular reports of big fish being landed from Salvo to Avon.
There are always resident fish lurking in these waters.
There was a decent drum bite for a solid month around Oregon Inlet, when the weather and grass in the water would allow for good fishing. The fish that were caught along Hatteras during the first half of the month were more than likely a part of this body of fish and others that were coming out of the sound from spawning.
For years, I’ve heard arguments on whether or not the big push of Virginia fish make it to Hatteras Island. I believe they do make it to Avon or so, but these fish never really charge into Cape Point, and the fish caught from the Point are a completely different group of fish.
There have been some nice drum being picked at for a while now from Avon Pier. Given that the water temps on the east side of Hatteras are still near 70 degrees, I’d think the real bite is still to come, if the weather cooperates.
Whatever you do – don’t let yourself think that something has happened to the drum population.
If you compare last year’s catching to this year’s at the end of October, there is no comparison.
But, that has nothing to do with the population and everything to do with the weather and overall conditions.
A couple dozen of us can testify that there was no lack of fish just off the beach.
We would describe it as “epic.”
Water temps as you wrap around Cape Point get even warmer, and while there have been drum of all sizes being caught sporadically in that area, I’d have to believe that southwest winds are going to produce for a few weeks to come and could even lead to a few really big bites. Last year, we saw drum being caught well into December.
Ocracoke continues to see the occasional citation fish taken, and southwest winds would help that bite also — but southwest winds have been almost nonexistent.
Drum fishing in spring or fall is a game of weather and overall conditions, although sometimes the drum come charging in for no good reason and it’s just a matter of being there for it. Time will tell the tale.
The rest of the pier and surf fishing scene is what most would expect it to be.
Sea mullet, spot, croaker, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and more make the reports along Hatteras and Ocracoke. Paying a visit to a local tackle shop and asking what you need and where to target these smaller bottom fish will lead to greater chances of success, since your chances of catching these species can change from one tide to the next.
Offshore fishing has been solid overall. Really good catches of blackfin tuna, wahoo, and king mackerel have dominated the reports, but some yellowfin tuna, scattered mahi and scattered billfish have also been boated.
The nearshore boats have had great days wreck-fishing for sea bass, triggerfish, and some snapper. Inshore boats have been on the drum of all sizes, off and on, along with blues, Spanish and some scattered speckled trout and flounder.
I’ve said it several times this year and I am going to say it again — now is a great time to be on a boat chasing fish.
Looking at the extended forecasts, the weather doesn’t give me any reason to think that fall fishing is running out just yet. The daytime temps remain warm overall and an ever-changing wind direction should help to keep the water temps in prime zone.
It’s almost Nov. 1, and the overall number of visitors is way down, as is to be expected. So, visiting fishermen practically own the place. You can capitalize on cheaper accommodations and local sales at the tackle shops and retail stores.
There are plenty of good reasons for coming down and wetting a line. But, most of all, it has to be better than being at work or at home doing chores.
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.)