Fishing in the early fall can be an anxious and frustrating time for many anglers. This is because it is still too early for migrating bass coming through and the closing of summer fluke season. Many anglers feel their options are limited when it comes to “fun” and productive fishing during this time of year, they are wrong. 

When the water is in the low 70’s during September through mid to late October, baitfish like to group up inside calm, protected, lagoons and coves. These bodies of water give them shelter from the strong winds and currents synonymous with early fall in this region. 

Although the fish find sanctuary from the elements in these protected waters, they become easy targets for opportunistic predatory fish such as bluefish. The bluefish you will find in these back lagoons and coves range from just a few inches “snappers” to the big “Slammer” bluefish worthy of some real bragging rights on the dock. 

If you are taking kids out on the boat who are inexperienced in fishing or just have short attention spans these “snapper” blues can be a god-send. The best way to approach these fish is a very small hook like a bait hook or kingfish rig suspended about 6-9 inches from a bobber with either spearing or pretty much any bait on the hook. The lighter the rod and reel combo you have the more fun you or the kids will have catching these fish. You can catch these little guys in the dozens throughout the day but the best time is right after sunrise or the late afternoon into sunset. 

For the big boys or “Slammer” bluefish, the best time is also sun up or sun down but you want to change up the approach. You are going to want a decent sturdy rod and reel combo with the action depending on your tackle approach. The most fun and often most rewarding way to approach these fish is with a medium to heavy action rod and a top-water preferably metallic plug or even just a decent spoon jig. Bluefish have gaudy tastes and will hit anything that shines, swims, or splashes, the more the better. Tear up the surface of the water with your plug (which is why a heavier action rod is preferred) and soon enough you will see a flash of silver as the fish hits and your drag screams. It is often unnecessary to really put much effort into setting the hook because these fish are voracious feeders and often overly aggressive, which explains why they will hit on almost anything you throw out. 

The trick is locating the schools of baitfish in the many lagoons and coves along the backwater of this area. Remember, baitfish like peanut bunker, move against the current and into the wind, and so take that into thought when anchoring or setting a drift. Now that the season is coming in, another smart approach as the water gets colder is to jig for these fish with a buck tail and pork rind to maybe pull in an early or residential bass who will also be following these schools of baitfish.