May 19, 2011

Outer Banks Angling: A case of the blues


The big news for surf fisherman on Hatteras Island is the large bluefish that are being taken regularly from Hatteras Inlet up to Rodanthe.

A few citations have been caught, which is not a normal thing in the spring months, as these fish will generally have a large head and slender bodies. The same fish caught in late fall will generally be a few pounds heavier after feeding well during the summer months.

Nevertheless, these fish have provided countless anglers a good story for the past week. I personally did very well with these bluefish last year during May and June from the Cape Point shoals, but they were extremely scattered from the surf. I am no fish biologist and do not have the answers about why they are so predominate this year, but I am glad they are biting for the anglers.

These fish can be very finicky when it comes to most lures and are best caught on cut bait using a bluefish rig, fireball rig, or  a drum rig. I was able to catch a few last year on gator spoons, but time and time again, top-water poppers produced these hard fighters, and on light tackle you will have a formidable opponent on your hands.

Sea mullet and the smaller size bluefish continue to be caught on and off along all of Hatteras Island, along with some decent flounder fishing from Hatteras to Avon. The flounder catch seems to be thinning out a little in comparison to previous weeks, but these fish still have produced well for those targeting them.

Small spot and croaker have also been seen from pier and surf.

I was talking with some kayakers and a couple surf fishermen, and a few Spanish mackerel have also been caught, which is always a good sign for area fishing.

Alan Sutton of Tradewinds Tackle on Ocracoke had a mirrored report to that on Hatteras. Alan reported large bluefish scattered along the island that were caught from surf, kayak, and inshore boat. Scattered sea mullet and pompano weighing more than 2 pounds were also beached.

Alan reported that cobia have been scarce in the area, and he hoped the inshore boats would have a decent catch of them with today's nice weather.

I must admit I am shocked the cobias haven't pushed a little farther north by now, considering the conditions have been right for them to shove. But, I've learned with most fish, that at times their migration has no rhyme or reason.

The Hatteras offshore fleets have done very well with gaffer dolphin, blackfin tuna, and scattered yellowfin tuna. Numerous billfish were caught during last week's Hatteras Village Offshore Open. Scattered wahoo and king mackerel have been boated.

Inshore boats around Hatteras Inlet have done very well with limits of flounder and bluefish, along with some cobias for the boats running farther south. Large red drum  continue to be caught by sight casters on prettier days.

The Fleets out of Oregon Inlet have landed white and blue marlin, along with some gaffer dolphin and even a spearfish.

Inshore boats in the area produced a mixed bag of flounder, sea mullet, and bluefish.

Speckled trout and flounder continue to be caught by those wading in the Oregon Inlet flats.

Now, this is the part that goes from article to editorial. I am talking about those that have continued to wade through the water to Cape Point. This has become a touchy subject on many fronts and you can read Irene Nolan's latest blog "Getting to the Point" for more info on the subject.

Several very die-hard anglers have continued to walk over a mile to get to the action that awaits at Cape Point. This walk takes more than 40 minutes through the surf and requires the anglers to remain in the water at all times or face a ticket. These dedicated individuals care only about one species of fish from the surf on the Outer Banks--red drum. They fish for nothing else. And, time and time again, for weeks now, their efforts have been well worth it.

 These anglers at times have been persecuted by both fellow anglers and the National Park Service for their actions. And, recently, the NPS has announced that if its biologists feel the birds that are no where near these anglers are disturbed, then they will shut down more beach to all users in the hopes of making this walk too difficult. I find this appalling and an abuse of power by the NPS. They could not stop boaters or kayakers from coming within feet of the sand, so why try and stop those legally wading?

I have nothing but respect and support for my friends who continue to pursue happiness by chasing the fish they love, against all adversity. They have assured me that no additional closure will prevent them from continuing to make this walk. I know that further unprecedented closures by the NPS under this guise will only further infuriate the beach going community. I hope the biologists and their superiors will use better judgment than they are currently threatening.

So, the fishing is about as good as it gets, and if I had a little free time on my hands, I would make a run on down to try your luck. The extended forecasts for the weekend look great, with fair wind and skies, so you have no excuse there.

Go Fishing.

(Rob Alderman is the owner of the Hatteras Island Fishing Militia website and is a kayak fishing guide. Rob has 10 years of fishing experience on the Outer Banks, and is host of the “Outer Banks Angler” television show. You can follow more of his extreme adventures or contact him at

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