July 11, 2012

Outer Banks Angling: July 4 recap


Another holiday week has come and gone on the Outer Banks. July 4 is one of the most anticipated holidays in the country and Americans love to celebrate it -- at home or on vacation.

The smell of grilled hot dogs, hamburgers and barbecue instantly come to mind, along with the blinding colors of exploding fireworks, when we think of this holiday.

For some, July 4 includes all of that – and a little fishing.

Now it may seem ironic that many would come to the islands to celebrate this country’s independence and freedoms, when so many freedoms have been lost in the area in recent years.

Closed beaches, limited access, and more and more fees for fishing licenses and ORV permits have all had an effect on visitation.

However, lots of people continue to come to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Whether it’s hanging by the surf line, exploring the area’s sites, wetting a line, or a little of everything, visitors and locals alike continue to make the best of the islands.

The weather was brutally hot, and at times the wind was excessive. But people got outside and enjoyed it however they could.

The fishing was decent, given the weather.

From the surf, a lot of anglers did well with nice-size sea mullet along Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

A good amount of citation fish were taken over the past week, along with a bountiful amount that were just under the citation requirements.

While a lot of visitors think that the main sea mullet season is in spring, there is an incredible summer season for this species.

Year after year, some of the largest sea mullet registered in the North Carolina citation program are caught during the hottest months of the year.

The sea mullet can be a little finicky as to where they hang out and when they bite, but you can almost bet they are looking to eat some sand fleas.

If you are heading down in the near future, I recommend stopping at the tackle shop closest to where you are staying and checking out the where, when, and how the sea mullet are biting.

Pompano, bluefish, spot, croaker, flounder, and Spanish mackerel have been caught from the surf.

It sounds like the Spanish and bluefish have been a little thin, but I would attribute that to a lot of southwest wind that has made the water a little rough and dirty.

This time of year, the Spanish and bluefish are thick and you just need some fair conditions to have a chance at them from the surf.

The waters of the Pamlico Sound can be very productive and are regularly overlooked by visitors.

The sound has plenty of shallow access points where anglers can enter and wade around in search of dinner. There have been plenty of speckled trout and flounder caught from Oregon Inlet to Hatteras village.

I recommend trying your luck at first light and last light if you are on foot. And once again, I’d check with your local tackle shop for some advice on where to go and what to use.

Kayak fishermen from one end of the Outer Banks to the other have done well in the sound. Flounder, speckled trout, gray trout and the occasional puppy drum have been put inside the plastic vessels.

Offshore anglers out of Hatteras Inlet continued to capture and release a fair number of billfish. Sails, white marlin, and blue marlin made the reports regularly last week. And I even heard of a grand slam, which consists of catching one of each during a single trip.

Mahi-mahi, wahoo, amberjack, and a few blackfin tuna also made the reports from the Hatteras offshore fleets.

Some of the mahi being caught are bull citations.

Offshore fishing can be an expensive gamble and a lot of anglers are hesitant to put up the money to make a go of it, especially in today’s tight times.

But, the offshore action is hot and while I make no assurances that you will catch anything, I’d say you have a good chance of being very happy.

Inshore boats near Hatteras Inlet have found a good number of cobia hanging out on the backside of the inlet. Quite a few cobia of all sizes have been brought to the docks.

At this time of year, it is customary for boats to anchor and chum in, around, or behind the inlet in the hopes of picking off a brown bomber that may be swimming inland to spawn.

Some citation red drum, large speckled trout, gray trout, and flounder have also been caught by inshore boaters.

Some nice Spanish mackerel and bluefish have also been taken by inshore boaters, when the weather has allowed them to leave the inlet.

The offshore fleets out of Oregon Inlet have had excellent mahi fishing. Lots of mahi of all sizes have been decked day after day.

More and more billfish have appeared for the boats and there have also been wahoo and blackfin tuna taken.

The inshore boats out of Oregon Inlet have also done well with cobias recently and have caught quite a few while site casting. A couple boats limited out and even released a few extras.

Spanish mackerel, tailor bluefish, triggerfish and sea bass have also been caught and kept anglers very happy.

A mixed bag of fish has been reported from the Rodanthe and Avon piers. Flounder, spot, croaker, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, spadefish, and sea mullet were all reported over the past week.

Both piers had an average water temp of about 80 degrees.

The extended forecasts show a fair chance of thunderstorms and a strong wind off and on for the next several days. But, this is typical for July and the forecasts change daily and most of the rain events will not last much longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

So, I wouldn’t let this discourage me from making a go of it and trying to catch a fish.

You can’t catch fish 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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