Home Drifting Easy - Fishing Tips Fall Surf Fishing...
Fall Surf Fishing...

“Fall is coming and I’m ready to do some surf fishing. When do the big fish
start to bite? How long in the season does it last? What should I use for
bait? Can I use lures?”

Now that summer is over locals have a chance to do a little fishing. Surf
fishing is a very relaxing pastime after surviving a hectic summer. Just to
sit on the beach and cast a rod over a wave is almost like a dream come

“When will the big fish get here?”

Some anglers get a false feeling that because summer “as we know it” is
over, that it’s like a big clock that goes off, and now the big fish ought
to be here. It’s more of a gradual thing. As the water gets cooler, we see
more and more larger fish. In September and the first week of October, we
continue to see a mixture of all of fish we’ve been catching all summer with
a big fish here and there.

Like summertime fishing, we continue to see kingfish, croaker, and spot. But
unlike summertime fishing, we also have snapper blues with an occasional
large one mixed in. We have stripers with some nice ones here and there.
Puppy drum can be taken along with some large drum, especially if you are
fishing on Assateague where most of the larger ones seem to hang. Sea trout
and flounder can be caught if you fish for them.

The “big” fish such as slammer blues and big stripers tend to start feeding
in earnest in mid-October and bite through Thanksgiving and into the first
week or two of December, depending on the weather and water temperatures.
Unfortunately, once the big fish are finally here the smaller fish are all
but gone, making surf fishing more of a “hit or miss” game.

“Why is Assateague Island so good for big fish?”

Assateague has some really good structure that holds the larger fish and
gives them more of a reason to come close to shore. There is a natural
slough all the way down the beach as well. For anglers that fish the
National Seashore Federal Park 4-wheel drive area, the beach has some
serious “points” of land that jut out somewhat, there’s some “turns” in the
beach, and some nice “dips” of deep water close to shore. This is what we
call a “natural” beach that has not been affected by “beach replenishment.”
Offshore of Assateague are some nice shoals a few miles offshore that
attract fish. On an easterly breeze, these fish that hang out on these
shoals are encouraged to come closer to the Assateague shore. There are also
many experienced surf fishermen fishing the Island.

For whatever reasons, we tend to see more red drum and larger stripers from
the Assateague surf. The drum bite usually starts the second week of
September and the striper bite shortly thereafter. The drum bite does not
last a long period of time, usually two or three weeks. The striper run
peaks mid-October and continues on through Thanksgiving on Assateague. So,
if you want to target big stripers and drum, buying an Assateague beach tag
is an option.

If you aren’t particular what you catch but just want to go surf fishing,
the Ocean City surf offers good fishing, including a nice striper here and
there, and some puppy drum (smaller drum.) The bluefish run is usually very
nice. The trick to fishing Ocean City beaches is to fine some of that
structure that happens naturally on Assateague. In Ocean City, after every
little storm, the beach changes. You need to go up and down several streets
in your car on low tide and look for deep water close to shore and cuts in
the beach. A flat beach can be a “dead” beach. If you find three or four
feet of water pooling close to shore at low tide, you will know that those
pools of water will be five or six feet at high tide and likely hold fish!

A good hole can move half a block over a period of days, so watch the surf
carefully, everyday if you live here or if you are visiting for an extended
period. Take your morning walks on the beach! You’ll learn a lot! (Try to
look at the ocean on a calm day. When the surf is rough, it can all look the

Of the Delaware Beaches, the 3 R’s Road just South of the Indian River
Bridge is a good option to try for the larger stripers, some drum, and all
the other fish that are biting including blues, flounder, kingfish, and
trout. The reason this beach is good is that, like Assateague, it has a
natural slough close to shore and it has a quick “drop off.” That means it’s
easy to fish because you don’t have to look for a hole. It’s there! It also
means you can hold bottom, even if it is rough!

“When should I go? What tide?”

I’m a believer of going fishing when it’s nice! But the best time to go surf
fishing, especially for larger fish, is at dawn and dusk. If this
coordinates with an incoming tide all is great with the world. Add a light
east breeze, and life is perfect!

“What bait should I use? What rigs?”

Fall seasons means fresh bait. If you can’t get fresh bait, get fresh frozen
bait. Finger mullet, fresh bunker, and fresh spot are all great baits for
this season of fishing. Use the finger mullet whole on a finger mullet rig
for bluefish. Cut the spot or bunker up in strips for flounder and trout, or
chunks for blues. Use rigs with floats on them for bluefish, trout, croaker,
and kingfish. For drum and striper, use plain leadered hooks on either a
heavy-duty top and bottom rig, or set a single leadered hook on a fish
finder rig. Cast out, and reel in slow back towards the shore.

Remember, “the early bird get the worm” when it comes to stripers. You can
also cast lures such as MirrOlures, Storm Lures, lead heads with a plastic
body of any sorts, or Rattletraps early in the morning just before daybreak,
or at dusk and after dark for stripers. Keep in mind that you need lighter
line or Power Pro type line to cast lures in the surf. A 7 to 9 foot
graphite surf rod with a reel spooled with 12 to 15 pound test monofilament,
or better yet, a spool topped with 200 yards of 20, 30, or 40 pound test
Power Pro or other Spectra type line that has extremely thin diameter is
what you want to fish with lures with in the surf. You might not always
catch “keepers” but it is fun.

There will continue to be some fat kingfish, croaker, spot, lingcod (after
dark), and blowfish in the surf in September and October. They will eat the
Artificial Fish Bite Bloodworm baits on small kingfish rigs, just like they
did all summer. They will also bite small fillets of fresh mullet, bunker,
or spot. Towards dusk and after dark you are very likely to catch the sea
trout moving past the coast. For these, a fresh strip of spot or mullet,
tipped with a strip of bloodworm or Artificial Fish Bite Bloodworm on a
small sized Sea Striker Bluefish Rig (DT-34) is deadly. Cast out, then very,
very slowly bounce it back towards shore. You can also catch croaker,
flounder, or lingcod with this bait.

Fall surf fishing in the Ocean City and surrounding areas is fun. Whether
you are into catching trophy large fish, or a dinner of snapper blues, the
fish are usually here if you fish the surf.

Good fishing…