August 15, 2013

Outer Banks Angling: Almost there

By ROB ALDERMAN



It's mid-August, and the traffic has already thinned out slightly.

I've heard and seen a lot of young people say their goodbyes as they leave to go back to or start college. Help wanted signs are seen at many businesses as the summer help leaves.

While this is a sure sign that the primary tourist season is almost over, it also means that fall fishing is not far away.

I'd like to say that there will be a huge influx of beach fishermen coming to take a shot at the migrating fall fish, but that is a hard call -- at least for now.

A ridiculous amount of prime fishing areas are currently off limits or difficult to get to because of seasonal beach closures or because of expanded turtle nests. I would have thought most would be open by now.

The National Park Service says that some areas, such as Cape Point, will probably open to vehicles in a week or so. However, expanded turtle nests will continue to close down some areas of the beach for another couple months at least.

I do know that you can walk into places like Cape Point and Hatteras Inlet. This may not be most people's idea of surf fishing on Hatteras, but for those that have been making the walk, the fishing has been productive.

Big red drum have been caught down at Hatteras Inlet almost all summer long on the southwest wind.

You can walk to Cape Point, though you currently still have to wade in the shorebreak through a short area of beach that is closed. At the Point, the Spanish mackerel bite has been really good at times. And some fair size fish have been caught.

Being told that you cannot enter or that you have to walk, rather than drive, to some of these places causes serious discontent with a lot of people. Individuals are quick to get riled up and voice their opinions on the subject.  That’s understandable. No one is truly happy.

However, I applaud those visitors and locals taking the walk to get to these grounds. I applaud them, because it's what needs to be done.

Many a business has suffered from the closures and that will show more during the up coming fall, shoulder season. For the visitors who have been making the best of the closures, it helps to lessen the economic impact.

For those visitors who have chosen to stay away or even thrown in the towel altogether because of the closures--I understand that also.

A lot has changed in the past six years, when it comes to beach access. We can only hope that in time that the massive restrictions will be eased by those with the power to do so.

For now, fish what you can fish.

The surf fishing along Hatteras and Ocracoke has remained steady.

There has still been good catches of sea mullet and pompano along both islands for surf fishermen. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, small flounder, small spot, and small croaker have also helped to entertain beach anglers.

Rodanthe and Avon pier reports look very similar to the beach reports, except for the occasional cobia that has rewarded a lucky "pin-rigger."

Offshore reports for Hatteras and Ocracoke fleets have remained solid with billfish, mahi-mahi, and a fair amount of wahoo being taken.

Both professional and recreational inshore boats around these two inlets have continued to find schools of citation drum, along with fair numbers of gray trout, puppy drum, speckled trout, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel.

The fleets running through Oregon Inlet have begun to see their annual August spike in white marlin begin. August and September can be incredible months for white marlin fishing out of Oregon inlet.

Now, some of you may say that this type of fishing is way out of your financial sphere. I know that times are tough for most Americans, but I want to point out a few things that might change your mind.

There are hundreds of respectable, professional captains on the Outer Banks and each has a different type of boat, offers different types of trips, and has different operating costs.

Some boats offer traditional offshore fishing, while others do wreck fishing, near-shore fishing, or traditional backwater fishing.

Some shopping around by checking advertisers on this website or making some phone calls could surprise you. 

There are make-up charters that help pair individuals or small groups up with others that are looking for a trip, which eases costs. There are head boats at some marinas that do offshore wreck fishing trips or trips to target king mackerels that are affordable.

There are definitely a number of different ways to possibly find a trip that is both right for you and your group and affordable.

I've personally spent a lot of time in the last five years in a kayak -- both for myself and as a professional guide. I've definitely noticed more and more kayaks, canoes, and small boats on the local waters in the past few years.

This is great. This is another form of fishing that can be very affordable and a fun way to explore the area. There is generally no lack of wildlife and marine life to be seen.

You can fish, clam, flounder gig and much more in one of these set-ups.

Any tackle you use for traditional pier, surf, or boat fishing will also work for this type of fishing. However, I would add that a 6 - to 7-foot medium action rod is all you need for this.

Since the same tackle can be used out of the small kayaks, canoes, and boats, you can purchase just about anything you need locally. And just a few quick questions in a local tackle shop can land you the right tackle to get the job done.

The one warning I have is that if you are unsure of this area and how weather affects it, I would definitely tell you to check in at a local tackle shop prior to going out and ask them if the weather is good for a safe trip at whatever location you are thinking of launching.

Local knowledge can help go a long way in staying safe.

The backwaters for the waders, small boats, and kayaks have continued to be good.

There have still been fair bites of speckled trout and puppy drum, and the flounder fishing has slowly, but steadily, been getting better.

I know a lot of pier and surf fishermen are hoping that as fall approaches and the water cools down, the speckled trout and puppy drum will move out of the sound and into the ocean. If that does happen, then the fall fishing should be really good.

But, we are a few weeks from having any idea how that will play out.

Now, as I write this article, we are in the middle of a stalled front that has triggered some mild northeast winds and some much cooler air temps. I, for one, welcome this with open arms after the extremely hot, humid days we have had.

A little run of fall weather feels great.

Tropical storm Erin is currently spinning well south of us and is not predicted to pose any threat to the U.S. But this is a reminder that September is nearing and so is our more predominate hurricane season here on the Outer Banks.

Storms like Irene and Sandy in recent years have left a bad taste in some people's mouth after damage to Highway 12 made it difficult or impossible to get to Hatteras or Ocracoke.

I personally would not let that scare me away.

In the off season, few places along the East Coast are fully occupied. This means you can wait until you are nearing your time to come down or are thinking about coming down to find accommodations and finalize your plans.

Fall is very close to beating on our door, and I ask you to not let access or storms prevent you from coming. Just plan appropriately, and you can still have a great time and have a shot at some great fishing. There are plenty of businesses willing to work with you and that are open to serve you all through the fall months.

The one thing I know for certain is that you can't catch the fish you want sitting at home.

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 www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)

 

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