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Outer Banks Surf Fishing

woman surf fishingThe Outer Banks is well known as a great place to fish. Warm waters and regular fish migration patterns combine to provide a mixture of tropical and cold water species. So many types of fish can be found in the waters off the Outer Banks, that years ago the area was given the nickname of “Gamefish Junction”. Among the many types of fishing available, Outer Banks surf fishing is the most consistent, and perhaps the least expensive.

To surf fish, the angler merely needs a license and some fishing gear. Both are available at local bait and tackle shops. No need for a boat, or a public pier, anglers can simply gather up rod, reel, and bait, walk out onto any stretch of over 100 miles of beach, and cast a line into the water. Flounder, trout, albacore, and bluefish are just a few of the species of fish waiting out in the surf. Plus, it’s a simple and cost-effective way to introduce a child to the fun of fishing.

Though Outer Banks surf fishing is relatively simple to begin, there are special tricks and techniques to learn to enhance the experience. Obviously, the first technique is acquiring the right equipment. Surf fishing requires specialized tackle. Rods are usually 10 to 12 feet to cast a lead weight (usually around 6 ounces) and bait approximately 100 yards beyond the breaking surf. Reels are heavy-duty spinning reels, weights for bottom fishing are normally pyramid sinkers attached to a drop. Bait ranges from live bait, to worms, to sand fleas, to small cousins of crabs that live just under the sand.

Knowing where to surf fish is also important. Also already noted, the Outer Banks provides miles and miles of possibilities, and vacationers with rod and reel can be seen all along the beach. Anywhere along the coast, even the rocky parts, can be a good spot to surf fish. Bait fish follow the shore line, which brings the larger fish into shore. An eddy, a runoff, or a spot where birds are feeding on bait fish can be the perfect place to catch a “big one.”

As with all fishing, hot spots depend on weather and season. One of the hottest surf- casting spots on the Outer Banks is Cape Point, a sand spit at the tip of Cape Hatteras, where the big catch is red drum (mid-October through mid-November). The shallow shoals are yet another perfect spot for bait fish to breed, thus game fish come into feed.

Once the license is obtained, the gear bought, and the perfect spot selected, all that’s left is to bait the hook and let it rip. Local surf fishing masters recommend that all bait be kept fresh in a cooler, and in or on something that’s easy to move while searching for “the” spot. Sunscreen and bug repellent are good to have along, as is a standard fishing kit (knife, pliers, first aid kit, extra sinkers, etc), spikes to hold the rod, and something to perch on.

Though fishing is available year round, the best times for Outer Banks surf fishing are spring and fall when water temperatures are cool. Speckle trout, and channel bass that weigh from 30 to 60 pounds migrate through the area. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to fish. The best days to fish are when high tide peaks before 6 am. To get information on tides, water temperatures, and other fishing conditions, anglers can call Outer Banks Visitors Bureau Fishing Line at (877) OBX-4FUN. Bait and tackle shops also have daily fishing reports.

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