June 5, 2012

Outer Banks Angling: Tuna, cobia, bluefish, pompano, and more


May was an extremely productive month for fishing on the Outer Banks from all avenues of fishing. Boaters, surfcasters, pier fishermen, and kayakers all had a great month.

Nice sea mullet and pompano dominated the surf fishing world from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. Great catches of nice size mullet and pompano led the reports day after day when the weather was nice.

Generally, these fish are not found all up and down the beach, but rather in specific holes along the surf line.

It can be hard to find out exactly where, when, and how these fish are biting, but this is when visiting your local tackle shop can pay off. The local shops will usually have an idea of what is going on and where and will help to steer you in a general direction with the right equipment.

Large bluefish, what I refer to as “all head, no shoulder blues,” made an appearance last month. These fish range from 8 to 15 pounds and are an excellent fight from pier, surf, boat, or kayak.

Large pieces of cut bait on the bottom will generally do the trick. You can use a standard fish-finder rig or bluefish rig to target these hard charging fish.

I do recommend a heavy mono-leader if you choose to use a fish-finder rig, as the fish have the ability to bite clean most lighter mono rigs.

Cobias also made an appearance on the Banks last month, and while most of the action has been from a boat, a handful of nice fish have been captured by surf fishermen.

These are a highly sought after gamefish 
and will bring anglers from all up and down the coast to try their luck at one.

Most boaters will try to catch them while cruising along and trying to sight-cast. However, some will anchor and try to chum them into the back of the boat and get them sight-casting or using a live eel or bluefish.

Either way, they are a formidable opponent and make for an excellent meal. Most of these fish will weigh 40 pounds or more, so they can feed a family more than once.

Yellowfin tuna have continued to get whacked out of Oregon Inlet by the area fleets.

It has been an exceptional late spring season for these fish. A lot of boats limit out or come close to limiting out frequently.

Mahi-mahi is also being caught by the Oregon Inlet fleets in good numbers, along with the occasional bigeye tuna, wahoo, and billfish.

Inshore and near-shore boats out of Oregon Inlet have done well with scattered cobia, triggerfish, speckled trout, and flounder.

The inlet does have a shoaling problem, and I’ve been informed that the main channel is very shallow near the bridge, so be careful out there.

I’ve kayaked the area a few times and have managed some speckled trout and flounder myself.

Most are keepers, but barely. However, there is the occasional, nice keeper fish to be taken.

Hatteras Inlet fleets have been doing well with mahi-mahi and even blackfin tuna. Scattered billfish and wahoo are around, and it seems a few or more bills are released daily.

The inshore boats have had some good days of cobia fishing and even some fair off-and-on drum fishing.

A few big schools of citation drum have been found near and around the inlet. This provides some good fish stories for anglers and boat captains, along with huge smiles.

The inshore boats have also been catching good numbers of the large bluefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, gray trout, and small flounder.

Both professional and private boaters have commented that Hatteras Inlet is still very tricky and treacherous at times. If you are a private boater, I recommend talking with the marina from which you plan on departing.

Boats do go down in the inlet and there has already been one lost boat this year, with numerous others running aground. Safety is key, and knowledge of this inlet is highly recommended.

I expect the fishing in June to remain good in the near future, based on the immediate weather patterns. We have moderately warm days and cool nights for the next several days.

This should help keep those schools of drum near shore, along with the pompano, sea mullet, speckled trout, flounder, and bluefish.

It’s not until things really heat up that the near-shore fishing winds down considerably.

The cobia fishing will last only so long, no matter the weather. These fish are migrating towards the Chesapeake Bay to spawn, and little in the way of the weather slows or deters them once they begin their push from Florida.

Reports from the bay area already show cobia catches, so I know they are moving.

If the weather holds, I believe that the tuna and mahi-mahi fishing will continue to be very decent.

The bill fishing should remain about the same, if not get better, as summer comes along.

Pier fishing from the Avon Pier and recently reopened Rodanthe Pier should be good in the morning hours. With fair weather and wind, you should have a good shot at bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Pier fishing may be your best bet for early morning and late evening action, considering ORV access on the beach is limited in the early morning and late evening.

Most piers offer a weekly pass at a discounted price, and if you don’t have a license or gear, this is the best way to go. You can rent your equipment from the pier house and be covered by the pier’s blanket fishing license.

I was happy to hear that no ORV access was shut down to meet the beach carrying capacity over Memorial Day weekend. But I have to ask myself if this is due to the issues at hand with beach access.

Most years, the beaches of Hatteras and Ocracoke have been slammed with ORV users, and they have always been a welcomed swarm. I hope that most will suck it up and come to play, no matter the hassle.

No, it’s not fun or fair, but there are open beaches, and there are plenty of fish to be caught.

You can’t catch them sitting at home.

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 www.FishMilitia.com)

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