Outer Banks Deep Sea Fishing

woman deep sea fishingBilled as the “Billfish Capital of the World,” the Outer Banks is an extremely popular spot for big game fish. Anglers take a 90 minute ride from Hatteras or a two hour ride from the Oregon Inlet, to cast their line into the plentiful waters of the Gulf Stream.

Outer Banks deep sea fishing is available year round, with different species of fish “showing up” at different times of the year. For marlin, bluefish, and other billfish, the season runs from spring through early fall. The peak month for blue marlin is June. For white marlin, August is the best month, while sailfish catches peak in September.

The Gulf Stream, lying about 30 miles offshore, is a 50 mile wide, half-mile deep haven for a variety of fish and other marine life. Rarely any colder than 65 degrees, with a flow rate of 2.5-5 miles per hour, the water provides a warm living environment for fish that get moved along at a steady pace. Along with being good for big game fish, the Gulf Stream is also perfect breeding ground for bait. Vegetation is plentiful, particularly gulfweed. Sport fishers can drop a line along these warm “grass lines” and hook tuna or mako shark

A particular favorite catch of the Outer Banks is bluefin tuna. In 1994, captains of offshore charters noticed a large congregation of bluefin tuna living in the shipwrecks about 20 miles off the shores of Hatteras Island. Now people from around the world come to Hatteras Island from January through March to snag bluefin tuna.

A favorite spot for Outer Banks deep sea fishing is The Point (not the same as Cape Hatteras Point). The Point lies about 37 miles off the islands, very close to the edge of the continental shelf. Baitfish hangout at drop offs because of the currents and because the water is rich in nutrients. As a result, The Point teems with baitfish, huge billfish, and deep-swimming grouper and snapper.

Captains on the charters for deep sea fishing have been working the water for many years. These captains choose the spots for fishing depending on seasons, trends and weather. They also have the power to cancel an excursion if the weather turns bad. Once on the water, if fishing is slow, or the captain has a hunch, he or she may move off to check it out. If the new spot proves fruitful, the captain shares the info with other ships, allowing all to join in the fun. According to anglers, this spirit of camaraderie makes a great fishing experience even better.

Techniques for fishing are explained at the beginning of each trip. Usually, prime spots are primed with chum or fish. When a school of fish is encountered, the captain stops the boat to allow everyone to cast out into the water. Boats are limited to parties of six, and vacationers are expected to supply their own food and drinks. Bait, tackle, and instructions are included in the price. Most boats have mates who work for tips, so allow 15% to 20% for gratuities.

Some of the big game fish, such as billfish, are protected by the federal government, which means most of what is caught, must be released. Bragging rights can be preserved, however, because the mate attaches a flag to the outriggers for each catch-and-release. When the boat returns to the dock, the flags proclaim the success of the day’s fishing.

Anglers interested in Outer Banks deep sea fishing should make arrangements in advance, and plan to arrive at the dock as early as 5:30 am, depending on the season and the type of fish. Because of the traveling time to the fishing spots, trips can last 8 to 10 hours. Sunscreen and seasickness remedies are recommended, as is dressing in layers, because temperatures can change quickly, especially if a sudden storm arises.

The Outer Banks also sponsors fishing tournaments several times a year.

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