|| |—| || |Hungry striped bass aren’t the only gamefish that will be running thick this autumn.| John Cole, the writer that helped save the striped bass back in the ’80s, told me once that there’s no better time to be a fisherman than the fall. “There’s so much energy,” he said. “In the air, on the water, underwater and in your own interior.” He was right. No matter where you live, make your way to the nearest shoreline and you’ll find fish massing for migrations or simply beefing up for the coming winter.
In the Northeast, striped bass rally for what may be one of the biggest game migrations on Earth as some 45 million fish begin traveling south to the Chesapeake and the Outer Banks. Joining the party are bluefish and false albacore that rip apart the water’s surface as they devour hapless schools of spearing, mullet and herring. Above them, birds of all stripes gulls, terns, gannets crash the party.
Bluefin tuna stack up in places like the Mud Hole and the Dump before they begin a journey that may take them across the Atlantic or down toward North Carolina or the Bahamas. No matter where the tuna are headed, anglers shouldn’t miss this gathering, as the action can be unbelievable.
Down south, the fall dolphin run finds the fish more aggressive than ever, and most anglers cash in on them without the crowds of spring. Whether you’re making the short run from Key Largo or logging some miles off the coast of South Carolina, you’ll find the fish at temperature breaks, weedlines or even, as I did once, under a floating volleyball. Just remember to keep only as many as you can eat.
Redfish invade the surf, flats, marshes, cuts and anywhere else they can find a meal. Encouraged by cooling waters, reds strap on the proverbial feedbag, delighting any angler that happens upon a school.
Out West, striped marlin ride the warm water eddies and gang up on bait pods. And fishermen are in hot pursuit, as the season will soon be over its hookups, battles, victories and losses committed to memory, mental sustenance to carry anglers through another winter.
In other words, let the others watch football or sit in a deer stand.
It’s October, and it’s time to fish.