August 22, 2012

Outer Banks Angling: The countdown has begun


Labor Day weekend is less than a week away and to most locals and visitors, the holiday marks the end of summer -- a sign that another year’s peak tourist season is over.

This means a drop in visitation and money flowing into our economy, which is both welcomed and hated by most of the locals. It’s welcomed after three months of mayhem and people running around everywhere, but at the same time everyone will miss the flow of money that mayhem brings with it.

We are also just short of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene, which is Aug. 27.

It was a storm that brought unimaginable soundside flooding on many areas of the Outer Banks and misery to many residents. It also pretty much decimated the fall tourist season for most of Hatteras Island, since Highway 12 was closed down until Oct. 7 and visitors either couldn’t get here or their accommodations were damaged.

An already very active Atlantic storm season has had many keeping a constant watch on the waters off Africa and in the Caribbean.

With the tourist season winding down and storms brewing, there are some who aren’t looking forward to fall -- but I am.

Fall typically means fish are beginning to move again, and we can only hope the weather cooperates to allow us to catch some of them.

Spot, croaker, sea mullet, speckled trout, and red drum should begin their fall migration in the coming weeks.

As the air and water temperatures begin to cool, the scores of bait fish will start to move out of inshore waters and the fish will follow.

Some believe recently introduced beach regulations by the National Park Service will have huge adverse effects on the fall shoulder season, and I am one of them.

However, I also believe that a lot of people will still come to the Outer Banks and make a go of the new regulations and continue to chase the fish they love so much.

Three main factors I believe that will play into how well the off-season does are the price of fuel, the weather, and the fish bite.

Gas has climbed considerably in recent weeks, but I am hopeful the end of summer will help with the decline for demand and the prices.

Weather is iffy at best. This year we have seen named Atlantic storms in May, unprecedented rain and thunderstorms, along with plenty of wind and waterspouts.

We can only hope the fall weather is a little more docile.

The inshore, offshore, surf and pier fishing has been good overall this year, so I don’t see that as a problem should the other factors cooperate.

 A double-edge sword in the fall is that a lot of people make their arrangements days or weeks in advance.

This means if the weather and fishing are good, many more people will probably join in and come on down at last minute. But, if they are bad, the people may stay away.

One thing is for sure. Outer Bankers are resilient people and good or bad-- we will make the best of it.

We encourage our visitors to do the same.

The fishing has remained solid the past couple of weeks.

Surf anglers on Ocracoke Island have managed puppy drum, bluefish, and black drum from the surf, along with some sea mullet and croaker.

Inshore charter boats around Ocracoke Inlet have been finding some nice citation red drum, with blues and Spanish mackerel also being a party pleaser.

Citation sea mullet and pompano continued to be caught along the Hatteras Island surf with plenty of near-miss citations to boot.

It has been an excellent season for these species, and it should continue as long as the water remains warm.

Spanish mackerel are making their annual surf showing in August in good numbers.

While they can be caught all along the island in early morning and evening, Cape Point seems to be the best producer thus far and, there have been some nice-size fish caught.

Bluefish are being caught just about everywhere, and they, too, are an early morning and late evening feeder, but that doesn’t stop them from eating throughout the day.

Spot, croaker, speckled trout, and flounder have also shown up in the surf on Hatteras Island.

Rodanthe and Avon piers have had a mixture of sea mullet, croaker, spot, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout, flounder, and sheepshead.

The offshore fleets out of Hatteras have done well with a mixture of billfish, wahoo, blackfin tuna, and dolphin.

Inshore boats around Hatteras Inlet have caught Spanish mackerel, bluefish, speckled trout, grey trout, and flounder.

Oregon Inlet fleets have been doing very well overall with billfish. Big numbers of released white marlin, blue marlin, and sailfish are in the reports almost daily.

Tuna and mahi-mahi continued to be taken, but seemed a little scattered.

Great reports of nice flounder and speckled trout are coming in from the inshore fleet, along with good catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

The overall soundside fishing is solid. Plenty of speckled trout, flounder, and puppy drum of all sizes dominate our inland waters.

Now is a great time to taken an inshore charter, play in a kayak, or just go wading in shallow waters.

Visit one of the area’s local tackle shops and let them enlighten you on where and when to go and what to use to catch some of these all-time crowd pleasers.

The extended forecasts are still nothing to write home about -- chances of thunderstorms or rain for most days and wind that can’t make up its mind what it wants to do.

But, hey, there are windows for fishing every day. You may get in a few hours of fishing and then have to take a break for a little while until a storm passes. Then you can fish again until the next round.

There shouldn’t be any real all day shut-outs.

So, you can sit at home and be depressed by the weather or you can go fishing in between storms and possibly have some great stories to tell.

Or you can go to work.

It’s a no brainer.

(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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