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September’s Best Saltwater Fishing Off The East Coast

September’s Best Saltwater Fishing Off The East Coast

Countless daily factors determine your fishing success, some of them in your control, and others less so. There’s barometric pressure and weather fronts, changing tides, time of day, just to name a few… even lunar phases will affect feeding patterns.

With all these variables in mind, your best bet is to fish the right game at the right times. Seasonality is definitely one of the biggest influences on bite.

As we settle into September, we’ve got some pro tips for your early-fall fishing plans.


Why not start with the catch of a lifetime? Swordfish tend to stay at depths of several thousand feet, and those who are serious about catching one typically rely on advanced electronics. However, with a proper squid rigging technique, spreading tactics, quality equipment, and enough will power, South Florida and Mexico’s west coast will prove fruitful.

Atlantic Sailfish

While many anglers will be headed offshore for marlin and tuna, shallower spots are late summer hotbeds for sails pushing northward to Virginia waters. Dedicated Mid-Atlantic fishermen in South Carolina and Maryland will find success, especially in rough waters, but southeastern Florida down the the Keys is a sure-fire spot for sailfish.

White Marlin

Speaking of Mid Atlantic fishing, white marlin congregate off the Maryland and Virginia coasts at this time of year. Look for clear water (green, blue, or blended) and eddies of warm water bringing marlin down the coast. A simple spread is best for watching and managing your lines, and of course, do your homework on bait and tackle before investing in any of these September strategies.

white marlin alongside boat


As migration passes and peak-season traffic subsides, September is a great time to fish for resident tarpon off the Florida and Georgia coast. Hot water means more feeding for tarpon, as they turn their gaze toward large schools of prey. This acrobatic and bony-mouthed species can be a pain to hook and land, but with live bait at ebb tide, 40-60 pounders aren’t uncommon in these areas. 


The wahoo bite is best in the early fall off North Carolina, and if they’re in season, it’s almost impossible to miss. At normal trolling speeds of 6-9 knots, deep, straight, and even-pulled bait will suit these aggressive hunters. If you catch one, make big circles in the same area, because they don’t usually travel alone.

Striped Bass

At last, we move northeast to the coastal waters of New York and Massachusetts. Bulking up for their winter excursion, striped bass are known to be an easy catch off Cape Cod. Deep water jigging or surface-level lures should get the job done—even from shore. Don’t expect to reel in your limit, but the biggest fish will likely be caught this month, and often in very comfortable, calm and cool conditions.

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