Redfish Action Heats Up in October
Featured In Coastal Angler Magazine
October is one of the best months to get onto some redfish action in the Atlantic Beach and Morehead City area. Just remember that we have a slot limit on redfish – they have to be in the slot of 18 to 27 inches in length and you can keep only one slot redfish per person, per day.
As we get into October the water is cooling off from the hot summer months. Redfish will start feeding heavily to fatten up for the winter that’s just around the corner. Most of the fish you will catch will be from 18 to 34 inches in length.
One reason the fishing in October is so good is there is just so much bait around. There are finger mullet, menhaden, shrimp and crabs, all of which are very appealing to reds. As the water gets colder, the bait will move out to the ocean waters and the redfish know that. They will feed all they can before the baitfish leave for the year.
Some good areas to look for redfish around Atlantic Beach & Morehead City are the Haystacks, Core Creek bays, Hoop Pole Creek, Middle Marsh, North River Marsh, ICW Docks and the Surf Zone. These areas are all marked on the Inshore Top Spot Map. The Top Spot map is the best map out there for fish location spots. It has every thing on it you need to find redfish inshore. When fishing these areas, you need to be looking for oyster bars, grass edges, grass points, sand flats, and drop-offs. Redfish love to hang around these spots in the marsh areas to ambush the bait as it comes by with the tides. They might be singles or they could be in schools of hundreds of fish. You never know what you might find…large schools are frequent but there are a lot of singles cruising around the marsh too. Now, not every oyster bar, grass edge, grass point, or sand flat that you come up on is going to hold redfish…that would be nice but it’s not going to happen! But remember, just because you fish a spot and find no fish there one day does not mean very much. On a different day, there might be hundreds there, because they like to move around.
As for the tides, usually for Redfish as the tide rises they will move up with it to feed around the grass or up in the grass. As it falls, they will move out to the edges of the oyster bars or the drop-offs. Redfish love to be around bait, so that’s one of the best ways to find fish. If there are baitfish in a area, there are going to be some redfish there at some time, feeding on some tide. You have to work at catching these fish by looking for the right places to fish.
Redfish love structure; that’s why they love to be around the docks around this area. The dock pilings all have oysters and other kinds of stuff growing on them, which first attracts baitfish, then redfish. Docks offer low light all day long under them and most have lights on them that are illuminated on most nights. When the lights are on at night, the bait comes by the thousands, becoming an easy target for feeding redfish. That’s why they hang under and around the docks along the ICW.
As the water cools down into October some of the redfish will move in very large schools to the Surf Zone in the ocean. As we get Nor’easters in October, the finger mullets will come out the inlet by the thousands. The redfish will move right up in the Surf Zone to take advantage of these fall mullets runs. Some good areas to look for redfish in the Surf Zone are Shackleford Banks, Shark Island, Ruff Point and along Atlantic Beach. When the redfish are active in the Surf Zone you can have 100 fish days. They key is a day with a light north wind so the ocean is laid down. It has to be flat…do not bother to try it if it’s not. On the good days you just get out there and ride and look. The fish are usually schooled up in large enough numbers that you cannot miss them. They will be right up on the beach feeding on the mullets as they make their fall runs. Look for mullets coming out of the water in large numbers. This is usually a good sign there are feeding redfish around.
You can catch redfish on artificial lures, live bait and cut bait. Berkley Gulp probably has caught more redfish since it came on the market than anything else. With the Gulp 3” Shrimp you can’t go wrong. They love it! New Penny and Pearl White are the hottest colors. The Gulp Pogey, Jerkshad, Crab, and Summing Mullet all work well too. Because Gulp comes in a lot of colors, you just have to try different colors to see what might be working best.
Topwaters baits are the most exiting lures to use to catch redfish. When they hitting topwaters, it’s some great action! Rapala Skitter Walks, Heddon Spook Jr’s, and MirrOlures Top Dogs are some of the best to be throwing. Any shad color works great. I don’t think the color matters that much, it’s just the action and noise that’s doing the job. Early morning and late in evening are the best time to use topwater lures. They work best in calm, low light conditions.
Strike King Redfish Magic spinner baits work well all the time. They are great lures to cover lots of water when looking for fish. Pearl White and the darker colors seem to be the best. Really, any lure you can catch a largemouth bass with will catch a redfish.
If you are not into casting lures, another way to catch them is with live bait or cut bait. When fishing bait, it’s more of a waiting game. You need to set up in a good area: oyster bar, grass point, grass edge, under docks and drop-offs. Put some bait on the bottom on a Carolina rig and some on top under a float, so you are covering the entire water column. Live shrimp, live mud minnows, cut menhaden, crabs, or cut mullet are all good choices for bait fishing.
Get out there this fall and get in on some redfish action, A redfish is the hardest fighting fish you will find in the inshore shallow waters. A cool added benefit to redfish fishing is you will probably come across some speckled trout and flounder in the same areas. So get out there and catch some fish. Who knows, you might run into a school of a thousand!