Outer Banks Fly Fishing

man fly fishingThe Outer Banks offers some of the best fishing in the world. The shallow waters along the coast and the Gulf Stream about 30 miles offshore provide perfect conditions for breeding of bait fish, and the migrations of big game fish. Deep sea fishing, surf fishing, pier fishing, are among the various types of the sport available. The most recent genre of fishing to discover North Carolina’s coastal waters is Outer Banks fly fishing.

Though anglers have been casting lines into the waters off the Outer Banks, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1980s that fly fishers visited the barrier islands and snagged some bluefish. Chico Fernandez caught a white marling in 1979, and in 1981 caught a red drum (42 pounds, 5 ounces) that set an International Game Fish Association Fly Rod record. Suddenly the Outer Banks were the place to fly fish.

Anglers can fly fish in all of the same spots conventional anglers cast their lines. Fly fishers can catch tuna and marlin in the Gulf Stream. Inshore wrecks provide amberjack and mackerel. The surf provides pompano and the sounds are the perfect spot to snag striper. The sounds, in fact are the truly best places to fly fish, where anglers can expect to catch Spanish mackerel, bluefish, speckled trout, and others.

Pamlico Sound is a favorite for stripers from November through mid-March. Trout visit the sound in May, and once June arrives, fish can be found in both the sounds and in the oceans. Many other types of fish can be caught on the fly in the Outer Banks, including black tip shark, yellow fin tuna, and jack cravalle. For fresh water anglers, the Currituck Sound offers large mouth bass and sunfish. Grassy weed beds, deep channels with a current, and marsh canals can also be a great place to fly fish.

For most anglers Albemarle Sound is the best spot for Outer Banks fly fishing. Nine freshwater rivers mix with saltwater from the Oregon Inlet to create 350 miles of brackish water fishing paradise. The Albemarle endures fewer storms because the swamp forest blocks some of the incoming winds.

The Outer Banks fly fishing gear required depends on where the angler is going to fish. To fish inshore, a an 8-wt fly rod with 12 pound tippet connected to a 20 pound two leader with a 40 pound should do the trick. When fishing in deep water, a 150 grain sink tip is a good idea. Other recommended gear includes a stripping basket to prevent tangling of the fly line, and a good selection of flies, including deceivers, crystal buggers, and clousers.

Fly fishing, however, is not easy to do in the Outer Banks, especially on the vast sounds, so hiring a guide could be helpful. For anglers going it on their own, bait and tackle shops can give fly fishing advice. The Outer Banks doesn’t have any dedicated fly fishing shops, but a few bait and tackle shops offer a limited supply of equipment.

As with other fishing on the Outer Banks, fly fishing requires a license, which can be purchased at most bait and tackle shops. Also, all anglers should understand fishing regulations on size and limit, too. Some fish are federally protected, so must be released after being caught. For information on licenses and regulations contact the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. For information on fishing conditions, call the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Fishing Line at 877-OBX-4FUN.

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