I love fishing. The Outer Banks of North Carolina has some of the finest fishing in the world! Diverse habitats, hundreds of species, and fantastic seasonal weather make it the perfect destination for all types offishing.
Outer Banks Surf Fishing
Surf fishing is one of the most popular ways to fish on the Outer Banks. Hundreds of miles of coastline make surf fishing accessible for most visitors here and the ocean cartography here creates the ideal environment for surf casters to catch many species of fish. Simple tackle is required for successful surf fishing on the Outer Banks. Typically used, a surf fishing rod between 6-10 feet in length, and a standard ocean bottom rig (see illustration) will provide excellent means for catching the widest assortment of inshore fish. From May-September, a wide variety of fish can be caught directly from the surf! Bluefish, Spot, Croaker, Sea Mullet, Flounder, Skate, Dogfish, Pompano, and Drum are most common. Surf fishing is a great activity for families looking to fish on vacation as it is very easy and many fishare attracted to common baits. For surf fishing, use of bloodworms, squid, shrimp, cut bait, or the artificial alternatives make great all-around baits for the widest variety of fish. Squid is relatively inexpensive and should be cut into 2-3″ triangles and hooked once through the wide part. Mullet is the preferred cut bait of choice and should be chunked in cubes/strips for hook placement. Bloodworms can bite so use caution. They are the most expensive bait on the Outer Banks but are VERY effective! Remember: small hooks catch more fish, so you may only need a size 4-6 hook for most fish in the surf.
There are more advanced techniques to surf fishing, but generally anglers using a bottom rig have the most luck casting into “holes” in the surf. A hole can be spotted by noting where waves do not break in the water. Waves will crash when the water is too shallow to support them. Casting in the deeper “holes” where waves are not breaking will put your bait where most bottom-feeding fish will be searching for food. Surf fishing from the beach is most productive around the tides as well. Surf feeding fish will move into holes during high tide, and can also be confined in them during low tide (see illustration below).
Other fishing rigs such as floating rigs, can be highly effective for catching Bluefish – a very aggressive and tasty fish. A floating rig is much like a bottom rig with the exception of small floats to keep bait at a level higher for hungry Bluefish. During the summer months, a lure pulled by a light tackle spinning reel can be highly effective as well for catching Bluefish. Spoons or Gotcha lures will both catch the eyes of predator fish and they will act fast on moving “look a-likes.”
Outer Banks Pier Fishing
Pier fishing is very similar to surf fishing but you have the luxury of being out and on top of the fishyou are trying to reach from shore. Pier fishing also gives you the opportunity to target larger fish who swim beyond the outer bar; where the shallower, sandy waters of the inshore end and open to much deeper ocean. Fish such as Cobia, King Mackerel, and Sharks typically can be caught from the farthest reaches of Outer Banks fishing piers. The Outer Banks is the home to many piers including: Kitty Hawk Pier, Avalon Pier, Nags Head Pier,Jennette’s Pier, and the Outer Banks Pier. Anglers of all ages can, for a nominal fee, enjoy fishing prime ocean waters without having to worry about casting distance from the beach. For an idea of where to fish on the pier, use the illustration below to guide you to your target fish. On most days, it’s up to the fish as to where they can be found, but this should give you a head start on where to make camp for the day!
Most fishing piers are outfitted with bait & tackle shops, knowledgable staff, food, restrooms, supplies, and everything your family may need for a fun day of fishing. The new Jennette’s Pier in Nags Headoffers many fishing classes that can get you up and catching fish in no time! You can also rent a rod/reel too; saving packing space in the car!
Outer Banks Fishing Charters
Charter fishing is very popular for Outer Banks vacations. The Outer Banks is home to dozens of experienced fishing captains who know how to get you and your crew to experience some of the world’s finest fishing! Charter fishing trips typically start early in the morning, and can vary from inshore orsound fishing trips to Gulf Stream, full day action. Typically a marina, like that at Oregon Inlet fishing center, will be the port of call for a full fleet of charter boats. You can contact the marina and find out which charters are best for you, and book rather far in advance to plan with your vacation. The most basic form of charter fishing is called head boat fishingor party boat fishing. These boats are built to hold a large number of people (typically 20-30) and usually fish for a half of a day. They are very family friendly and popular for large groups. You will most likely bottom fish and catch species like Sea bass and Flounder. Another popular charter fishingoption for Outer Banks vacations is half-day inshore fishing. Just as the name implies, you will spend either the morning or the afternoon either trolling the sound for fish like Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish, or just off the beaches and perhaps sight casting for Cobia. Half day trips are very popular as you get to experience the fun of targeting more sport-fish, while also saving money compared to a full day trip. Gulf stream full day fishing is the king of charter trips. You will spend a full day approximately 35 miles off the coast targeting “big game” fish like Tuna, Dolphin, and Marlin. The Outer Banks are very close to the Gulf stream waters so more time is spent fishing and less time traveling to your destinations. Full day charter fishing is the most expensive of all charter options, typically ringing in around $1,900 for a day. Split between 6 people this is not too bad. A popular way for small groups to full day fish is going on“make up” charters; a service the marinas offer to offset costs and assembling a full boat of small groups together. Typical make up charters cost around $200-$300 a person and are cost efficient for a couple, etc.
Other Outer Banks Fishing
There are many other popular ways to fish on the Outer Banks. Kayak fishing, bridge fishing, and spear fishing are all very popular and exciting ways to get out and enjoy the fishing environments here. Kayak fishing is predominantly a inter-coastal or sound side activity. The calmer waters ease stability for anglers. Often times kayak fishermen will frequent bridges near ocean inlets as it is a good mix of controllable water conditions and the presence ofgame fish. Spear fishing is best in the ocean, where open waters and shipwrecks create a habitat that attracts large fish. No matter what type of fishing you do on the Outer Banks you can be sure it’s going to be great! Feel free to ask any fishing questions in the comment section below! Tune in to our YouTube channel for Outer Banks videos with summer surf and fishing reports. Also be sure to check out our other related fishing resources below: