Targeting Piers, Jetties And Surf Fishing In The Central East Region With Capt. Jim Ross

September is my favorite month to fish the surf because that’s when we get the fall mullet run in my region. The mullet school up along the beaches and travel south down the coastline, pushing into the inlets in large rafts. It’s just this huge concentration of baitfish sometimes a mile long pushing down the beach, and when you have that, everything from sharks and tarpon, to big redfish, snook, bluefish, ladyfish and jacks will be on their tails. The finger mullet will show up early in the month, and then the larger fish will come through as we start to see some north winds.

Pick an inlet in my region and fish the outgoing tide at night, and you literally have no idea what you’re going to hook. The big tarpon, redfish and spinner sharks really focus on the mullet moving in and out of the inlets, so they’re in those areas in huge concentrations. You’ll get a lot of big snook as well, particularly at Sebastian Inlet.

Freeline a live mullet on a 6/0 VMC Circle Hook and 50 or 60 pound monofilament leader and cast it up-current and let it drift along the shadow lines and eddies. Along with live mullet, you can use lipped diving plugs or big flair hawk jigs in the inlets at night.

One of the biggest problems with fishing the fall mullet run is that you never know what size tackle to bring. There are so many different species of all sizes in the mix that you don’t know whether to use 30 pound gear for the tarpon, big reds and sharks, or 20 pound gear for the jacks, bluefish, snook and ladyfish. I always go with the heavier tackle, because I know there’s going to be some big tarpon in the mix. 

Ponce Inlet is another good spot to fish, with great big pushes of mullet at the jetties at dawn and dusk. So is the tip of Cape Canaveral, although that’s not really a jetty, but for boaters it doesn’t get the pressure that some of the inlets do. Canaveral Pier gets its share of fish as well.

During the daytime, you can pick any beach that has a big school of mullet on it and fish the outside edges or the ends of the school and do well, using either live mullet or croakers for bait. If you have a high tide and the fish are pushed up close to the beach, you can put those live baits out on a weight and fish them underneath the schools where they stick out. We get a lot of extreme high tides on the new and full moons in September, so that’s a pretty common occurrence.

The key this month is to find the mullet schools. They’re not everywhere, but they are around the inlets a lot. The more mullet, the more gamefish. One of the things you can do when beach fishing is to bring a pair of binoculars with you and then drive to the different beach accesses, park, walk up on the dune and look north and south through the binoculars. The mullet schools will show up as big dark shadows right next to shore. Drive until you find the fish, then park and walk down to the school and fish them.

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Captain Tips