A Fisherman's Delight: 3 Ways to Fish in the Outer BanksA rod and reel in your hands. The sound of the gentle surf washing onto the shore. Blue ocean as far as the eye can see. Ahh! This is your perfect vacation.
Since the 1920s when there was literally nothing on the Outer Banks but sand and water, early visitors discovered the phenomenal fishing. For almost a century, this treasured landmark has become synonymous with relaxation and hooking a big one.
Today, from Corolla to Nags Head, North Carolina, you can experience the best in Outer Banks fishing three exciting ways.
1. Fishing on the BeachThe original - and still most popular - way to fish the Outer Banks is right on the beach. From the edge of the surf, you can cast your line for a low-hassle place to spend the day with plenty of elbowroom. Bring a chair or just plop in the sand with your cooler and tackle box.
If you didn't book a beachfront vacation rental on the Outer Banks and you don't want to carry all your gear, you can drive your 4WD vehicle right onto the beach in some areas. In Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Kitty Hawk, you can take your off-road vehicle onto the beaches during the offseason.
For the Cape Hatteras Island area, you'll need a permit regardless of the season. Visit the National Park Service website for full details. A fishing license is also required to fish on the beaches of the Outer Banks.
2. Fishing off a PierTake a quick look around. From Corolla to Nags Head what do you see? Vacation rentals and fishing piers! From late March until late November these piers give you an exceptional way to enjoy a fishing adventure.
If you want a little company while you fish, pier fishing is just the thing. Make new friends, buy some bait, pull up a chair and throw out a line. Here's a bit of information to help you choose the pier(s) you want to visit.
Avalon Pier, Kill Devil Hills, NC
At 696 feet long, the water under the pier ranges from 12-15 feet deep (depending on the tide, of course). They have a bait shop and are open 5:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. during summer months. In the spring and fall, 6:00 a.m. until it slows down, usually before 10:00 p.m. Web cams can be viewed on their site.
Nags Head Pier, Nags Head, NC
With a bait shop and on-site restaurant, the folks at the Nags Head Pier have a "you hook 'em, we cook 'em" policy. Open 24 hours in season.
Jennette's Pier, Nags Head, NC
Not your typical fishing pier, Jennette's has a gorgeous pier house with a gift shop, summer camps, family programs and event rentable space suitable for weddings, receptions, business events and more. The pier is open May - August: 5 a.m. - midnight; April, Sept., Oct., Nov.: 6 a.m. - midnight; and December - March: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Outer Banks Pier, Nags Head, NC
This 600-foot pier offers a tackle shop, boat rentals and hearty meals at Fish Heads Bar & Grill. Open 24 hours in season.
What can you catch from the shore or a pier? It's an ocean so there's no telling what might swim by in the fairly shallow waters near the shore. The most popular fish include drum, mullet, bluefish, striped bass and flounder. Small sharks are also landed from time to time.
A license is not required for pier fishing.
3. Fishing on a BoatIf you'd rather set sail and head out to the Gulf Stream, charter boat tours are plentiful. With some of the best deep sea fishing in the nation, this is where you'll get the thrilling big-catch experience you've been dreaming about.
A simple web search for terms like "charter fishing Outer Banks" will reveal more options than you can imagine. In warmer waters, you'll have a chance to land dolphin, tuna, amberjack and others.
Prefer to stay a little closer to land? Inshore charters on smaller boats are less expensive than Gulf Stream excursions, but still give the adventure feel of fishing on the water.
Regardless of which fishing option suits you best, you'll want to bring along the following:
- Sunglasses (Polarized are best for visibility on and around the water.)
- Cooler with ice
- Bait (You can purchase bait at most piers. Charters provide bait.)
- Fishing net
- Fishing rod & reel
- Drinking water
- Snacks/food (If you're planning to make a day of it. Some piers sell snacks and have restaurants.)