The fragile narrow strip of coastline that makes up North Carolina’s famous Outer Banks provides a variety of opportunities for saltwater anglers year around. The Gulf Stream is a short run of just over 30 miles from Oregon or Hatteras inlets, where the cobalt blue water brushes against the inshore flow of the Atlantic Ocean attracting pelagic gamefish including white marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin and big eye tuna, dolphin, kingfish and wahoo. In recent years, winter months have found anglers rushing to the area to cash in on the medium and giant bluefin tuna fishery. Near-coast anglers find bluefish, striped bass, summer flounder, Spanish and king mackerel and false albacore responsive at varying times of the year. For those who wish to tug on a variety of bottom species, cobia and amberjack plus numerous species of snapper, tilefish and grouper are always willing to oblige. Cape Hatteras lies in the shadow of the lighthouse bearing its name and has a historic reputation for producing excellent runs of trophy striped bass and tackle-busting bluefish while flounder, speckled trout, puppy drum and false albacore also keep rods bent and drags searing during much of the year. Outer Banks pier fishermen seek striped bass and bluefish as well as pompano, puppy drum and Spanish mackerel. Sound and inlet anglers enjoy light-tackle action with school-sized striped bass and bluefish, speckled and gray trout, puppy drum and flounder.
If you’re an Outer Banks regular or first time visitor, expect to find the local tackle shops and marinas anxious to provide the latest report on what’s biting where, when and on what. Many of the local tackle shop owners and marina employees are avid anglers or guides and are willing to pass on their vast knowledge of what works best to catch a given species as well as when and where to catch them. If you didn’t bring it with you, don’t worry because the tackle shops on the Outer Banks boast aisle after aisle of all the gear that’s needed to catch the local species regardless of what you’re targeting.
Many visitors trailer their own boat to the area, and launch ramps are quite abundant from Manteo to Cape Hatteras including those in Avon and Hatteras Village. We’ve used two located at the northern end of the Outer Banks including one at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and the other across from Pirate’s Cove in Manteo at the Washington Baum Bridge. Once in the water many waterfront properties include dockage with their rental, and there’s also ample transient dockage throughout the area at several excellent marinas. Should you decide to travel to the area by car and leave the boat at home, Pirate’s Cove in Manteo, Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, Hatteras Harbor Marina, Oden’s Dock and Teach’s Lair boast some of the best charter fishing boats anywhere. Each has a fleet of sound, near-shore and offshore boats with captains eager to take you on the trip of a lifetime.
April through June is a great time to visit the Outer Banks as the weather is pleasant, crowds are small, lodging costs are reduced and the fishing really starts to heat up. Offshore, tuna fishing can be the best it is all year, especially in May and June while dolphin, wahoo and kingfish are also possible, and there’s always the chance for a marlin or sailfish. Near-shore, beach and sound anglers will find bluefish, flounder, snapper, grouper, red drum, croakers, cobia, spot and rockfish all in a receptive mood. As with many states, North Carolina requires anglers, whether resident or visiting, to possess a saltwater fishing license that can be obtained at most tackle shops or from the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries website, where you’ll also find important information on seasonal closures and bag and size limits for all species. It’s always a good idea to have this information handy when on the water to avoid embarrassment at the launch ramp or dock when you return.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or annual returnee, the Outer Banks has something for the entire family: beautiful beaches, great restaurants, fabulous shopping, world-class golf courses and a long list of cultural and historic sites to visit during your stay. Oh, and by the way, did we mention the fishing?
Product Spotlight: Cousins Tackles Florida A1A Series Rods
Cousins Tackle introduces its new Florida A1A Series of Americanmade graphite and composite casting, spinning and conventional rods that includes 25 models in all. Named for Florida’s iconic “fishing highway,” each rod features an American-made graphite or composite blank engineered for lightness, sensitivity and hook-setting power and is built with meticulous attention to detail with the finest components including Fuji guides and hand-carved cork grips. The line includes seven IM-8 graphite casting rods, 14 IM-8 graphite spinning rods, three graphite conventional live bait rods and a composite conventional “swimbait special” rod. Don’t be misled by the series name. These are serious fishing rods that anglers fishing the world over will want to add to their arsenal. Contact Cousins Tackle Corporation at (714) 893-0423 or visit cousinstackle.com.