May 31, 2011

Outer Banks Angling: Memorial Day weekend roundup


Offshore mahi-mahi or dolphin fishing was a hot ticket for the past several days, along with some fairly decent cobia fishing.

Outer Banks offshore fishing fleets have done very well with dolphin of all sizes. Dolphin are a highly sought area fish and can easily bring in gangs of anglers trying to fill their freezers with meat.

Dolphin can be caught from 2 pounds to 35 pounds on average, with larger fish also taken occasionally.  They are a hard fighter and can put up quite the aerial display, while flashing a plethora of brilliant colors.

They can be caught while trolling weed lines offshore or while throwing lures or cut bait into schools that might surround the boat.

Bailing dolphin consists of keeping a hooked dolphin in the water just off the back of the boat. The dolphin will send out signals that attract the other dolphin in the school to within casting range for the bait or lures. This is a very exciting type of fishing and fun for all ages when it is possible to do it.

I spoke with Capt. Danny of the Point Runner and he was very happy about the current dolphin bite and said it had been very productive for the past week. He said the tuna were scarce, but there was the occasional yellowfin being caught.

The cobia fishing got fairly hot for a couple of days, with the bulk of the action being from Avon to Oregon Inlet.

 By Monday the cobia fishing had thinned considerably, with more being seen than actually caught.

I stopped by Oregon Inlet Fishing Center twice over the weekend and there were plenty of private boat owners chasing the cobia, along with the charter boats. The boat and trailer parking lot was filled to capacity and then some, and I am willing to bet that all area launch points looked like this.

This is great for the area's economy, but hard on cobia catching when there is a D-day style bombing of lures and live baits on these fish. They will become very skittish and finicky about actually taking a swipe at a potential meal.

Time and time again this weekend, I heard anglers and captains tell me about seeing a lot of fish but only being able to get a few to actually eat.

Reports came in from the Chesapeake Bay about cobias being caught over the weekend, and it is a scary indication of the cobia actually going around the Outer Banks in warmer tracks of offshore waters.

I spoke once again this week with Capt. Rick "Cato" Caton of the Free Agent and his spirits had been dampened some by the bay reports. He also expressed his concern that the cobias could be passing us by to the outside.

Cato turned his attention to wreck fishing after a slow start to cobia fishing on Monday. He reported scattered triggerfish, sea bass, and red snappers from the offshore bottom fishing.

I am sure that all cobia anglers are hoping the fish that are being reported to the south of us will track up the coast and not offshore. The bulk of the East Coast cobias are migrating towards the Chesapeake Bay for their annual spawning season. The next week will tell the tale of the remainder of this season.

Surf fishing sounded relatively scattered for Frisco and Hatteras Inlet anglers, with some bluefish, Spanish mackerel, flounder, sea mullet, and a few pompano reported by my friends who worked the area

.A cobia was beached from Ramp 45 over the weekend.

Fishing sounded very decent around the Buxton jetties, with fair catches of bluefish, flounder, and sea mullet , along with some pompano and Spanish mackerel.

Pier and surf fishing from Avon to Pea Island was an on-and-off-again deal that yielded Spanish mackerel, bluefish, sea mullet, and some flounder.

Allan Sutton of Tradewinds Tackle on Ocracoke Island reported a smaller class of bluefish being caught this week, but in fair numbers. He reports that there were still good catches of sea mullet, along with scattered black drum, pompano, Spanish mackerel, and flounder.

Inshore boats around Ocracoke Inlet did well with the bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Cobia fishing was scattered and flounder, speckled trout, and puppy drum fishing was very slow.

Along with the great catches of dolphin by the Ocracoke and Hatteras offshore fleets, there was a great billfish bite and scattered tuna. Numerous release citations were awarded for marlin.

I spoke with a couple friends who waded the Oregon Inlet area, and they reported scattered small speckled trout and throwback flounder.

Several of my kayaking buddies made launches along Hatteras this weekend, and their general reports consisted of scattered Spanish mackerel and bluefish, although one friend did manage to hook a cobia, but lost it during the fight.

My kayak adventures have had quite the following of people over the past few years, but I've got no reports of my own for you.

I managed to tear my Achilles tendon on Feb. 1. I went through quite the arduous, natural healing process over a 14-week period. After the doctors allowed me back into the wild, I managed to re-tear my tendon days later and since have had a major surgery to repair it. I am still post-op and am awaiting permission to enter the water with a leg brace on, but I doubt it will be soon.

For the first time in 10 years, I've not fished all spring, except for a couple of times from the pier and once from the surf.

While I am absolutely losing my mind, I am happy to see so many others having a good spring season and I hope it continues.

The current extended forecast shows warm weather, with the low possibility of rain each day and very moderate winds from now until next Monday.

If you have the time and extra money, I would recommend heading down and booking an offshore charter to go after the dolphin and billfish. I think this fishing will hold up for at least the immediate future.

Work will still be there tomorrow. Go fishing today.

(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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