swear I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone when I think about
three different snow events hitting the Outer Banks in almost as many
The first two snow events definitely had an impact the
north beaches more than Hatteras or Ocracoke, but this past event
finally gave a fair amount of snow to the islands. Pictures of kids and
families finding just about any type of incline or hill to play on were
all over the Internet.
The snow storm that hit on Tuesday was
fairly strong for a brief period of time and actually caused brief
periods of white out conditions. That's not something you generally see
around here. The event had the least amount of impact since it was
mostly melted by the next day.
We are mighty lucky in the big
picture, as a great deal of the Eastern Seaboard has been crippled by
the snow and ice. Massive power outages and traffic jams have plagued
The Outer Banks has been inconvenienced by the storms, but we have had little suffering to speak of.
And the surf fishing has been crazy good despite the weather.
Puppy drum have been blitzing the shoreline from Oregon Inlet to Hatteras in numerous locations.
is hard to wrap your head around, since in some locations the water
temp is around 40 degrees. In most cases, drum become very lethargic in
those temps and have no desire to feed.
But, these puppy drum are moving in fair-sized schools and feeding regularly throughout the day and week.
saw something similar in the winter of 2010 when the sound temperatures
dropped and forced puppy drum into the ocean to seek warmer waters. The
bite was incredible and lasted roughly three to four weeks, but during
that blitz the fish were highly concentrated, mostly around Frisco.
This time around anglers are finding fish in a lot of different places.
fish are in tight schools that lead to puppy drum being caught in the
mouth one moment and being snagged in the body the next.
sure that most anglers do not care how they are catching them right
now, because 99 percent of those anglers are local residents who are
very much over the weather and will take just about any action they can
There used to be a time in January and February when local
anglers could count on a little action from the striped bass in the
surf, but it has been sometime now since that has happened.
a little “puppy love” right now is a great distraction from the
weather, but who would've thought that you could catch a few dozen pups
in 32 degree air temps and 38 degree water?
I had friends who whacked puppy drum during the first few hours of Tuesday's snow storm--that's nuts.
But, never look a gift horse in the mouth.
Basically, about the only good thing that has come from these extreme winter weather patterns is the puppy drum bite.
did speak with a North Carolina Marine Fisheries officer, who is a
friend, and he told me that the trout kills he saw in the past couple
of weeks were depressing.
2011 and 2012 saw mild winters and
this helped the freshly spawned red drum each of those years have a
high survival rate in their normal sound habitat. Most young puppy drum
will spend the first 18 or so months in the shelter of the sound
learning how to survive.
Since the puppy drum can be just as
susceptible to cold stuns as the trout, the mild winters lead to a boom
in their population that most anglers capitalized on all year long in
recent storms are forcing these pups to push out of the sound in search
of warmer, deeper water. They are using a lot of energy doing so and
when any living creature uses energy, they need to feed.
I went down to Oregon Inlet to observe some catching and to take a few photos.
fishing was a little slower, as it was late in the day and the fish had
made a stronger appearance earlier in the day, but I did see a couple
caught and snagged.
There were also a couple seals stalking the schools of fish in search of a good meal.
The pups definitely had more to fear than just a few anglers.
on the catwalk of the Bonner Bridge, I could see small schools of fish
racing around and at times being stalked by the seals.
five times more entertaining than watching the Discovery Channel.
Seeing 20- to 30-inch puppy drum spraying out of the water like finger
mullet, running for their lives from the seals was quite impressive.
pups are being caught in a few different ways, but most anglers are
using trout rods with lead heads and a variety of grubs or Berkley
On the days that have had moderate winds, the fly fishing guys have had a great deal of luck.
If you go to chase the fish, make sure you dress warm under your waders and raincoat. The water and air get cold fast.
don't read tarot cards or try to predict the future, so I can't say how
long this bite is going to last, but I know a whole lot of anglers that
are going to enjoy it as much as they can while it lasts.
The weather has continued to make fishing a hard go for the fleets and the offshore fishing has been scarce for the most part.
I hope we see a break in the weather, but not from the surf fishing.
Summer will not get here fast enough.
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.)