September marks the beginning of the fall fishing season. The finger mullet migration begins in full force during the month with the first cooler weather, and the mass movement of bait triggers better fishing both on the beach and in the sound.

Large red drum start to show up in better numbers behind the island for inshore boaters, a true sign that fall fishing is on the way. And yet summertime species such as Spanish mackerel and pompano usually stay through the month for surf and inshore fishing.


Warm surf water temperatures at Ocracoke ensure beautiful beach days through the month. Surf fishing improves as 20 to 27 inch puppy drum and yearling drum, red drum from 27 to 34 inches, start to be caught in better numbers. These fish are caught on shrimp, cut pieces of mullet, or on finger mullet. Many anglers are successful fishing quite close to the beach, as many of these drum are feeding on the plentiful sand fleas still found in the surf wash. And toward the end of the month a lucky fishermen may catch the first citation red drum, a drum over 40”, of the season from the surf. Sea mullets and pompano are caught in the very near surf on shrimp, as these fish are feeding on the sand fleas. Flounder fishing also improves, with the best catches usually occurring near the inlets. The flounder season for 2023 will begin September 15th through the 29th with one fish a day per person with a minimum size of 15”. Small bluefish have been plentiful throughout the summer, but the sizes and catches should improve during September. We also expect the last nice catches of Spanish mackerel along the beach for those casting stingsilvers.


Inshore fishing around Ocracoke Inlet includes gray and speckled trout, sea mullets, black drum, puppy drum, flounder, and possibly sheepshead and triggerfish. These fish are caught on bait while drifting Teaches Hole Channel and Wallace Channel. Shrimp and squid tipped on speck rigs are popular choices, although some fishermen bring sand fleas from the beach. Live finger mullet are also popular for many targeting flounder and puppy drum. Spanish mackerel continue to be caught trolling clarkspoons and drone spoons. A king mackerel or two may surprise anglers targeting Spanish as well.


Offshore fishing is a mix of fish, including king mackerel, dolphin, wahoo, and amberjack. Some anglers enjoy nice bottom fishing for triggerfish and black sea bass. And a lucky few find sailfish or marlin in the gulfstream waters found about 20 to 25 miles from the inlet. Experienced offshore fishermen troll wire rigs for wahoo, one of the most popular late summer offshore catches.


See recent catches and read the current fishing reports at Tradewinds Tackle on Facebook or on our home page. For more information on what to expect fishing Ocracoke year round see our fishing page here.

What to Expect Fishing Ocracoke in September