Night fishing is best for big reds
Each fall after the first cold snaps of October, red drum pour out of the inlets and swim along Outer Banks beaches.
“After the first few northeast blows happen each year, people catch a few drum off the Avalon and Kitty Hawk piers or down at Oregon Inlet,” said Frank Folb Jr., of Frank &Fran’s Tackle Shop at Avon, who said drum move out of Oregon Inlet into the ocean, then turn south and head for the beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Drum also move through Hatteras, Ocracoke and Drum inlets into the Atlantic Ocean.
“I think some drum even come out of Chesapeake Bay and move this way,” Folb said.
Usually, the big reds will reach Buxton’s famed Cape Point by November.
“When they get to Cape Point, that’s when they’re here for a while,” Folb said.
“A southwest wind is really good for Cape Point,” said angler Mike Frick. “An east or northeast wind can be extremely good on the beaches.”
While most large reds are caught at night or in the early morning hours, smaller drum will be in the surf during daylight hours.
Surf-fishing outfits for red drum once were standard 10-foot “Hatteras Heavers” with spinning or bait-casting reels loaded with 17- to 25-pound monofilament, a long shock leader, then a “slider” rig that ended with a big pyramid sinker and a J-hook.
But in the old days, the sliding weight often allowed drum to swallow baits and hooks, causing internal injuries and deaths. Today, most surf anglers use a variation of an Owen Lupton rig that has a pyramid instead of a barrel sinker to hold the rig on the bottom in heavy current.
The Lupton rig has a short leader, usually six inches, with a fixed non-sliding weight and a circle hook. When a drum picks up a piece of chunk mullet and begins to swim away, the circle hook usually hooks the fish in the corner of its mouth, and it can be safely released.
Anglers may keep only one red drum per day between 18 and 27 inches long.
Editor’s Note: This story appears as part of a feature in North Carolina Sportsman’s October issue. To ensure you don’t miss any information-packed issues, click here to have each magazine delivered right to your mail box.
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