Since I was just a kid, the Fall Mullet Run of September and October has always been my favorite time to fish Sebastian Inlet and the surrounding waters on the Space Coast. Mile-long schools of mullet line the beach as tarpon, sharks, jacks and king mackerel give chase — fishing doesn’t get much better than this! Whether you are fishing from a boat, fishing off the jetty or wade fishing the Lagoon, you can have a lot of fun and success during one of the greatest migrations on the planet right here in Central Florida!
Fishing the Beach and Jetties
Anglers fishing the beach and jetties will find consistent action on the predators in pursuit of an easy meal. A great place to start is the trough running parallel to the shore along the beach. As long as the waves aren’t too big, the bait will be tight along the shoreline and on the surface.
If you’re targeting larger game like tarpon or sharks, the best bet is to use live bait on a 7’6” to 8’ rod rated for 40-80lb braid. I use 50lb braid and a long 60 or 80lb leader tied to a 7/0 VMC circle hook. With this setup, fish the outer edges of the bait pods while keeping ahead of the schools or in between them. Keep working south with the schools so you can stay in the action.
Any points, jetties, bridges or coves are a good area to fish because the predators will use them to ambush the bait and the structures slow the migration allowing the fish to feed heavily. Fishing from a boat, I like to slow troll the live baits outside and in front of the schools on my trolling motor. While slow trolling, I also have anglers fishing the outer edges and middle of the schools with Rapala XRap 14 Long cast hard baits and Hogy Pro Tail Paddle tails and The ABOA Dart Spin soft baits. DOA Swimming mullet and Bait Busters are also excellent soft baits for fishing the mullet run. Anglers fishing from the shore can use the same baits but they will use a 9’ to 11’ rod with 50-80 lb braid and the longer rods will give them more distance when casting to the schools off the beach. Anglers on the beach will have to be mobile and follow the schools down the beach working the bait where there are fish blowing up on it.
Fishing the Run Inshore
The inshore bite on the flats, spoil islands, causeways, docks and along the mangrove shorelines from Palm Bay to Sebastian will also see a nice spike in activity during the annual bait migration. It’s a great opportunity to catch snook, redfish, trout, tarpon, Jack Crevalle and flounder on topwater and subsurface baits, as well as live bait.
For live baits, finger mullet, pilchards, pigfish and pinfish all work great. Rig these baits on a 2/0 or 3/0 VMC circle hook and use the same rods/reels as you would with artificials. My preferred setup is a 7’ medium action rod with a 4000 Shimano Stradic spooled with 20 or 30lb braid and 30-40 lb leader. Leader weight will be dependent on if you are fishing structure or the flats. I personally like to fish artificials inshore because I can cover more water and have constant action. I like to fish the mangrove shorelines with Storm 360 GT Coastal jerk baits and paddle tails, DOA Cal jigs or 4” jerkbaits rigged on VMC ¼ ounce jigheads. For some standout action, I also like to use the ABOA Dart Spin rigged on a 1/8 ounce weedless swimbait hook. Fish them slow along the shorelines and pitching them under the mangrove roots. Rapala’s Skitterwalk is my go to topwater and the XRap Twitchin Minnow and Twitchin Mullet are both good hard baits to target all of the inshore species around docks and spoil islands as well.
Targeting Tarpon and Snook on the Sebastian River
If the Ocean is too rough and Tarpon is what you’re after, the mullet in the Sebastian River will keep the Tarpon active through October as long as we don’t get too much rain. Too much rain will push the bait out and the only fish that will remain are those that stay around the spillway. Along with the tarpon in the deeper parts of the creeks, fish for snook along the docks and oyster bars that are loaded with bait using the same topwater baits and subsurface baits you would use along the flats and around the docks and islands in the Lagoon. Snook will be plentiful and Tarpon will be in the deeper channels of the Sebastian River and nearby creeks. Live finger mullet is a great bait or give the ABOA Dart Spin or DOA Terror Eyez a shot along the shoreline drop-offs. You can use lighter tackle than on the beach for Tarpon. Use a 7’ Medium-Heavy rod with a 6000 size reel and 30-40lb braid. Tie on a section of 40 lb leader and rig your live bait on a 5/0 VMC circle hook.
Book A Trip with Going Coastal Fishing Charters!
Whether you are fishing from a boat, fishing off the jetty or wade fishing the Lagoon, you can have a lot of fun and success during one of the greatest migrations on the planet right here in Central Florida! If you are interested in fishing this awesome annual event with me or Capt. Jesse, give us a call and book a trip.
Capt. Glyn Austin and Capt. Jesse Austin are lifelong Brevard County Residents and full time inshore/nearshore fishing guides. We run a 24’ Wellcraft Bay Boat and a 23’ Shoalwater tunnel boat which are comfortable for up to four anglers and will let us get shallow for inshore fishing and offer a smooth dry ride when fishing Sebastian Inlet and nearshore waters of Brevard County.