Your Guide to Fall Fishing on the Outer Banks
We're going to let you in on a little secret: Fall is a fabulous time to be on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Why? Well, we've given you some reasons in recent blog posts (if you missed them, you can click here and here to catch up). One of the biggest draws to the OBX in the fall, besides the gorgeous weather, is the fishing. Long before vacationers discovered the Outer Banks, the fishermen already knew about it. You should, too.
Here's your guide to fall fishing on the Outer Banks. Remember, good things come to those who bait.
Inshore FishingYou see, the good thing about the fall season is that many fish are migrating north to south. This is good for you, the fisherman (or woman). Inshore usually refers to fishing done in the sounds, inlets, or near-shore waters. Generally, it means fishing within sight of land.
What's biting? In the fall you can expect to find continued catches of snapper, tilefish, and black sea bass. If you are trolling the inshore waters you can find Spanish and king mackerel along with bluefish. Red drum and cobia are also in the waters. Deepwater bottom fishing near wrecks offers a treasure trove of fish for your catching pleasure.
Drifting for flounder in the sound is a great fall fishing experience. Flounder gigging is fun for all ages and is best done at night. If you see fishermen wading the shallow waters with a small boat in tow and a bright light illuminating the waters, then you'll know what they're up to. That's flounder gigging.
If you're new to fishing, consider hiring a guide or booking a half-day or full-day excursion. Many of the boat captains on the Outer Banks specialize in inshore/nearshore fishing and know exactly where to find the fish (that's pretty important). An added benefit is that all the bait, tackle, and other fishing equipment are provided for you, as is a blanket fishing license.
Interested in finding out about the best soundside fishing spots on the OBX? Find them here.
Offshore FishingOffshore Fishing is big, big, big on the Outer Banks. The proximity of the Gulf Stream in relation to our shores is the reason for that. Offshore fishing means heading out into the Gulf Stream waters where the bigger species of fish like to frolic.
What's biting? We're talking billfish, tuna, and dolphin. Offshore fishing is good year-round here, but fall is most prolific for white marlin and sailfish. Blue marlin peak in the summer season, but their presence carries over into the fall months. Yellowfin tuna are a consistent catch this time of year.
Just as with inshore fishing, offshore fishing charters are abundant on the Outer Banks. They are more pricey and require a day's worth of your time when you consider the additional travel time offshore, but they are totally worth it. It's an experience you'll never forget. All you need to do is set your alarm (early!), bring some food, sunscreen, liquid refreshment, and seasickness meds if you're not sure how you'll handle the open waters; let the captain and crew take care of the rest.
Pier FishingPiers are great attracters for fish! Lucky for you, the Outer Banks has a lot of fishing piers. A pier can get you access to the deep-water fishing grounds for a very inexpensive price. No boat required. Bait and tackle shops are right on the premises and a blanket license covers you. The fishing pier staffs are usually very helpful and knowledgeable about what's biting and what you need to for the best catches.
What's biting during the fall months off the pier? A lot. As previously mentioned, a lot of fish are in transit to warmer waters and migrating from north to south. Speckled trout are one of these fish. Fall mornings or evenings are good times to catch them. Cooler waters are good for croaker, sea mullet, and spot if you're into bottom fishing.
Outer Banks fishing piers abound, so check out the one closest to you during your OBX vacation. It promises to be a reel adventure for the entire family.
- Avalon Fishing Pier, Kill Devil Hills
- Avon Fishing Pier, Avon
- Jennette's Pier, Nags Head
- Nags Head Fishing Pier, Nags Head
- Outer Banks Fishing Pier, South Nags Head
- Rodanthe Pier on Hatteras Island, Rodanthe
September through November are the best surf fishing times of the year here on the Outer Banks. With over 100 miles of shoreline, where you cast is totally up to you. You won't run out of options. All you need is a surf rod and some bait and you're good to go. Oh, don't forget a cooler to keep your catch and store your bait. You might consider a rod holder too, so you don't have to lay your rod and reel in the sand.
What's biting? Pretty much the same things you'd find when pier fishing. Speckled trout, puppy drum, spot and sea mullet are abundant. As we get further into the fall months, larger red drum and bluefish are also possibilities.
Make sure you have an NC Coastal Recreational Fishing License for surf fishing, since you aren't covered by any blanket license. If you're driving on an OBX beach, make sure you also have the appropriate pass for your vehicle.
OBX Fishing Resources
Are you ready to book your Outer Banks fall fishing vacation? Good! Here is a list of OBX bait and tackle shops, fishing charters, and marinas to help you with your planning. Happy fishing!
Do you have a good fish tale to share with us? Drop us a line in the comment section. We'd love to hear it!