May 31, 2013

Outer Banks Angling: Recapping Memorial Day Weekend


It was a blustery and semi-stormy start to the Memorial Day weekend. Gusty winds and scattered thunderstorms led the charge on Friday and Saturday, but by Sunday the weather became as good as you could ask for.

Clear skies, light winds, and warm air made for an excellent second half of the holiday.

The beautiful weather brought out the fishermen in droves.

Local boat ramps were slammed with trucks and trailers. The piers had good crowds and the beaches had plenty of lines in the water.

The true story lies in the current cobia fishing, which is super hot.

The local fishing reports, Facebook, and Twitter were overwhelmed with pictures of these brown studs being held and hoisted as weekend trophies.

From what I am currently seeing and reading and the info I am gathering, these fish are stretched from Wilmington to Rodanthe.

And that's impressive.

For those that have never caught a cobia it is an explosively powerful fish. Some fights can last an hour. Cobia can easily range from 10 to 100 pounds, but no matter the weight, they can give an angler a run for the money.

Probably one of the biggest reasons they are stalked so much -- other than they are good eating -- is that they are almost always sight-casted.

This means the boats are looking for these fish swimming on the surface or tagging along with a ray or turtle. When they are spotted, the angler will then throw one of many types of lures or live eels in the hopes of hooking up.

One can generally watch as the cobia swallows the presented bait whole. It's very exciting.

The rods are generally light in the big picture, so that maximum distance can be obtained during the cast. The reels are generally spooled with braided line, which is highly sensitive to feel. Combine the two and you have quite the fishing and catching experience on your hands.

This fishery is very hot for now, but that could change quickly, so if you are even thinking of chasing these fish now is the time to book a trip.

The mahi-mahi fishing has remained very solid for the offshore fleets and recreational boaters. Lots and lots of mahi of all sizes have been thrown on the docks.

Yellowfin tuna and scattered billfish have also made the reports, but, honestly, a lot of the big boats have been getting in on the hot cobia fishing.

Most of the inshore boats have been hunting cobia, but those running in the Pamlico Sound have been wearing out the speckled trout and puppy drum.

Some decent numbers of Spanish mackerel and bluefish were also caught by the boats out of Ocracoke and Hatteras inlets.

Beach fishermen had a fairly decent weekend on the sea mullet front. Numerous citation sea mullet were taken. Pompano fishing was pretty fair also and some nice size fish made their way into coolers.

Scattered bluefish, Spanish mackerel, black drum, spot, croaker, small flounder, and sheepshead made the beach reports.

An 18-pound Florida permit was landed from the surf in Avon. While catching this fish is a rarity in the big picture, it does happen from time to time. I saw a report from the weekend where a 20-pound permit was taken in the Surf City/Topsail area.

Rodanthe and Avon piers reported some bluefish, sheepshead, small flounder, spot, croaker, sea mullet, and a few speckled trout.

Kayakers and waders did manage to find plenty of speckled trout and puppy drum.
Both species have had a decent showing in recent weeks.

I ran guide trips hard on Sunday and Monday and can honestly say we caught more puppy drum than I could begin to count. Both throwbacks and slot-limit fish were thick and feeding aggressively. It's nice to see the state fish thriving so well.

My friend Johnny Berquist and I went hunting cobia from our kayaks the other day.

It's a big ocean to be hunting these fish from a kayak. However, Johnny managed to hook a 6 -foot sand tiger shark and was able to get it to the surface. When we inspected it, we noticed a tag in its dorsal fin. I was able to get along side the shark in my kayak and get the tag info.

We called the toll-free number on the tag, and we were shocked to find out that this big fellow was originally tagged in Panama City, Fla., in August of 2011. At that time, the shark was 5 feet long.

This means this shark traveled from the panhandle of the Gulf of Mexico, through the Florida Keys, and back up the Atlantic for roughly a 2,000 mile journey -- that we know of.

As with the Florida permit that was caught, sometimes there are no rules to how far marine creatures might travel.

If you are looking for the current fishing hot spot and gear, look no further than one of the many local tackle shops. They know their stuff and will set you up right.

The weather is gorgeous, the fishing is fantastic, and there are vacancies at local accommodations.  So book a place to stay, grab your gear, pack your vehicle, and get yourself down here so you too can get in on the good times.

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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