It's the beginning of a very special time of the year; our inshore fall fishery is second to none, and it's about to get going. Finger Mullet are pouring through our inlet and down our beaches, it's time to get out there and pepper some fish!
Inshore: Right now, there is an abundance of Bull Drum located from the South River all the way on out to in front of Cedar Island. These fish are
being targeted with popping corks during the day and soaking baits after dark. If you are using a popping cork, you want to make sure that it really
explodes on the surface. A 5-7" Jerkshad or else a DOA hollow belly swim bait are great options to attach under your cork. Set your cork only about
20" deep. The louder and bigger the chug it makes, the more likely you are to draw a big red to it. Focus on areas with shoals/islands, or else areas
with balls of bait if you are fishing with a cork. If you are soaking baits, then in front of Cedar Island in 15-22 feet of water should get you bites.
Fresh cut Mullet, cut Menhaden, or cut Croaker are all great options for soaking. There are also lots of over slot Drum in front of the Coast Guard
Station. Spinner Sharks are mixed in with the Drum at the Coast Guard Station. Live mullet (5-8") on a very short Carolina rig (3-8" leader) with a
circle hook is the most effective method for catching those fish and you can also target them from the shore of Fort Macon State Park. The Mullet are
now in migration mode, and are pouring down the Beaufort Inlet as well as in the white wash of our beaches. Red Drum, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Bluefish,
and Black Drum will all be available along the beach from now until late November. The beach fishing is about to really get good. Carolina Rigs with
live bait on the beach will get you bites from Flounder and Drum. Casting MR17 mirror lures, MR52 mirror lures, Halo shrimp on a heavy cork, and live
shrimp on a heavy cork are all great methods for targeting our Speckled Trout from the beach. Also, most of these fish (Drum, Trout and Flounder) are
in the white wash where the waves are crashing, because the waves put the baitfish into a state of confusion. So make sure you give that area of the
surf some serious consideration. Black Drum and Sheepshead are still available to be targeted all along the ICW and Core Creek bridge and dock pilings.
Live Fiddler Crabs are always effective. Sea Mullet have been biting well after dark along the surf, and can be caught with fresh shrimp on a standard
two hook bottom rig. Speckled Trout fishing has been consistent, most of the fish are still in their summer trends, but they will really fire off in
the next couple weeks once the water temperature drops off a couple of degrees. Big fish bites on the Trout have still been early morning on baits
like the Rapala Skitter Walk, Mirrorlure MR17, Mirrorlure MR18, Paul Brown Soft Dine, and Heddon ZaraSpook. Flounder have really started chewing well,
bucktail jigs and Carolina rigs coupled with live Mullet fished in places like the Beaufort Bridge or the High Rise Bridge and the Port Wall have all
been good places for a doormat. Gray Trout have made their fall arrival and are thick as thieves; heavy jig heads (1/4oz) with Zman-Paddlerz soft baits
have been really effective for them. They will also readily strike lead baits like Sting Silvers fished in a vertical presentation. The Gray Trout
have been on deep structure in the ICW. Spanish Mackerel are still around, and these fish are some of the last to leave, and are fully grown ones.
Live mullet rigged with thin wire and a small treble hook (live lined) will tempt a big Spanish to chew. In front of the Coast Guard Station, AR315,
and under the High Rise Bridge are all great places to try and light line for a big fall of the year Spaniard. On flood tides the slot Drum have been
tailing in the grass in the back of Crab Point Bay (the bay behind Fort Macon State Park). There have also been some nice Pompano along the beach,
they will eat cut Shrimp, small jigs tipped with Shrimp, or else Sand Fleas.
Offshore: Wahoo fishing is still going very well; most boats that are making the run out to them are being rewarded. Pulling Ballyhoo and high speed
trolling are both effective ways to catch them. There have been a few gaffer Mahi mixed in as well as Blackfin Tuna and Sailfish. Blue Marlin are still
around as well, the ledge of the Big Rock on out to deep space would be a place you could try pulling plugs or else "bait and switching" a North Carolina
Blue Marlin. Bottom fishing has been very good as well; Red Grouper, Scamp Grouper, Gag Grouper, Speckled Hind, Beeliners, Triggerfish, Amberjack,
and Vermillion Snapper are all being caught. The best fishing is going to be in 200+ feet of water, but there are plenty of fish around shallower,
it just takes a lot of time to find out where they live in the 90-150 foot range. Use cut Squid for the Triggerfish and Vermilions; use dead baits
like whole Shad or live baits like Pinfish for the Grouper.
Fly Fishing: The False Albacore have already shown up. They can be taken on small "Gummy Flies" or else small Clouser patterns when seen busting on
the surface. Speckled Trout are eating Shrimp, Finger Mullet and Glass Minnows right now; so fly patterns like a Shrimp Clouser, EP baitfish Deceiver,
and Shrimp "Gurgler" are all flies you could look up on YouTube and learn how to tie up for them. The Red Drum have been tailing on a flood tide in
the grass. Crab Patterns are irresistible to a tailing Red because that is what they are looking for. Bull Drum can be taken on the fly on oversized
"Game changer" fly patterns in a Mullet or Menhaden color pattern.
Don't forget to pre-register online for the fourth annual Atlantic Beach Surf Fishing Challenge, October 6 - 8th. Hope to see you there!
Tight Lines from Freeman's Bait and Tackle