Bluefish. Image, NOAA.

Fall is one of the best times for surf, sound and pier fishing on the Outer Banks. There’s a lot of opportunity to catch something, but certain species seem to show up more than others. Here are four that seem to like the fall with some very brief notes about them.

Speckled Trout

One of the best fish to fry, speckled trout are usually around two pounds with a really large catch at four pounds.  Usually caught in both the surf sound, they prefer moving water. They’ll take live bait and a wide variety of lures.

Sea Mullet

A fairly small fish, perfect for frying, sea mullet are also known as kingfish. Definitely a live bait fish, they tend to swim through the surf, so if casting for them, don’t throw the line too far out.


A schooling fish, spot are a favorite of fall fishermen. Look for them in the surf and sounds. They are migratory and tend to swim in very large schools, so when they’re hitting, get the cooler ready. Live bait is best, especially bloodworms..


Aggressive and feisty, a lot of fishermen view bluefish as a nuisance because they eat bait, destroy rigs and generally make a mess of things. But for the fisherman who is ready, bluefish offer a good fight and some good eating when prepared fresh. The largest of the species range up to 40 pounds, although most are under 20.

Bluefish are caught in the surf, from piers and in the sounds. A very aggressive fish, they’ll take almost any bait, as many surprised fisherman have learned.

A note of caution: wear protective gear on your hands when taking the hook out. Bluefish bite hard and fast and through skin.

There are a number of Outer Banks fishing retailers and outfitters who have a lot of knowledge about local conditions and what’s running when. Check in with them and be sure to know state regulations.