May 23, 2013

Outer Banks Angling: Red, brown, and green


Without a doubt some of the best moneymakers in the Outer Banks fishing world are red drum, cobia, and mahi-- and they are all currently here and biting.

While the big, citation red drum have to be thrown back because of size limits, they are still highly sought after by pier, surf, and boat anglers. As the state fish, the drum pulls its weight in the recreational fishing economy.

Drum of all sizes have been steadily making the reports from surf and sound from Ocracoke to Oregon Inlet.

You will find a good mixture of undersize and slot limit (18- to 27-inch) fish in the sound waters, while the large fish are being captured from surf and boats from Cape Point to Ocracoke Inlet.

After weeks and weeks of what can only be described as terrible weather, the pattern finally broke and the cobia came racing in.

Only one day after reports of the brown bomber being spotted off of Hatteras, the pics and reports were rolling in.

On the very day that the cobia were first caught in Hatteras Inlet, a 20-pound cobia was reeled in on Jennette's Pier in Nags Head.

This is awesome!

The reports since for almost a week have been solid. Picture after picture of charter and private boat catches have made their way onto the Internet. Cobia of all sizes have been thrown on the docks for their photo spread.

Just looking at current weather patterns and water temps, the Outer Banks should continue to have reasonable catches of these fish for the immediate future.

Professional boats are booking fast, so if you are even considering chasing these fish, you better get on the horn quickly and book your trip.

The current beauty of the weather forecasts and water temps is that an inshore boat hunting cobia could easily stumble across a school of cobia or a school of large drum. Since there are also still schools of large bluefish on the move, a fishing party has the chance of having a stellar day on the water.

I know a lot of fishermen that hire guides are looking for the best odds in today's economy before laying out the cash for a trip. If there was no chance of getting skunked, this sport would be called “catching” as opposed to “fishing.” But the odds of having a decent day are above average.

The offshore boat fishing, especially for dolphin, has been excellent. Another highly sought-after fryer favorite, these fish have been getting laid all over the docks after a day of fishing.

Dolphin can average from 5 pounds to 40 pounds and put up a heck of a fight. They are a highly luminous fish. When they are snatched out of the water with a gaff, they glow bright green and yellow, with a hint of blue mixed in.

Many an offshore party has come to the docks in the recent past trying to figure out how they were going to get all the meat home.

Along with the excellent dolphin fishing, the billfish have been getting picked at, along with wahoo and yellowfin tuna, by the fleets of Oregon Inlet on down to Ocracoke.

Once again, book a trip while you can. Here today, gone tomorrow.

In the inshore backwaters, speckled trout, puppy drum, flounder, bluefish, and gray trout have all made the reports.

Wrecking fishing has been excellent with great numbers of triggerfish being reported. The triggers aren't the prettiest fish in the water, but they sure taste great.

From pier and surf, the sea mullet continue to make the reports, along with a fair showing of pompano, bluefish, flounder, and blow toads.

As the water temps continue to rise, the blow toad population will decline.

But while one species is run off by warmer water, another will grow in numbers.

I fully expect the Spanish mackerel to make a solid showing in the coming weeks for surf and pier anglers, especially in the early mornings and late evenings.

Now I could give a breakdown of every inch of sand from Hatteras to Ocracoke on what is being caught. But in the end, you would be chasing yesterday's fish in yesterday's spot.

What I can recommend is this: There is a tackle shop in every village from Rodanthe to Ocracoke and their only mission is to help you catch fish.

Go inside and spend a little money and talk to the employees. They can tell you what is biting and where and can also set you up with the proper tackle and bait.

What's biting and where changes faster than the weather around these parts, but the tackle shops are dialed in daily as to what is going on --  it's their job.

I continue to pound lures from my kayaks for both fun and business. The flounder fishing is gradually getting better, while the speckled trout and throwback puppy drum fishing has remained steady.

Whether you are fishing from the plastic of a kayak or while walking around in your waders, there are fish to be found in the backwaters.

The full-blown tourist season is rapidly approaching, and the population is about to dramatically change on the islands. If you have been putting off a trip on a boat or a place to rent, book now.

Go fishing.

(Rob Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 12 years and has worked in the recreational fishing industry the entire time. A former variety fishing TV show host, beach fishing guide, tackle shop and pier employee, Rob currently owns and operates Outer Banks Kayak Fishing. He is on the Pro-Staff of Bending Branches LLC, Wilderness Systems Kayaks and Release Reels. You can follow his adventures at or

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