April 30, 2014

Outer Banks Angling: May it be?


In my last article I wrote that April shouldn't have long periods of bad weather without some decent breaks. I also wrote a disclaimer saying not to hold me to that.

It's a good thing I wrote the disclaimer, because between the wind and rain, the weather hasn't been all that great. But that doesn't mean that the fishing hasn't been fair, when the weather has allowed anglers to wet a line.

May is finally upon us, and I am truly hoping that the weather is going to relax in the near future and allow for more fishing than not. My fingers, toes, arms and legs are all crossed for good luck.

When the fleets were able to fish in April, the reports were solid.

Although the bluefin tuna fishing is now slowing down and should end in the coming weeks, the bite was intense several times this past month.

Imagine, if you will, the size of a 14- to16-pound bluefish (roughly 3 feet) -- and now imagine using that whole fish for your bait.

Schools of bluefin would corral these citation-size bluefish and prey on them.

The charter boats would take turns backing down on the bluefish and gaffing them. They would then proceed to hook them alive directly through their back and pitch them back out into the mix. It would only take a few moments before a beast of a bluefin would have the reel screaming for mercy.

Now that's some intense fishing!

The bluefin have been picked at lately, but that will continue to diminish.

However, the yellowfin tuna has continued to get better for the offshore fleets, along with the mahi-mahi (dolphin) fishing.

A mixture of bailer- and gaffer-size dolphins have been making the reports regularly of late and that will only get better as May winds on.

Some nice wahoo and a few billfish have begun to show up. It's a sign that warmer weather is definitely trying to make a regular appearance.

The inshore boats from Ocracoke to Oregon Inlet have done very well stalking puppy drum. The pups are very thick and it has been rare to hear of a slack fishing day recently.

Some of the inshore boats around Ocracoke and Hatteras have also had some luck finding schools of citation drum.

Beach fishermen along the islands have found a mixed bag of flounder, bluefish, sea mullet, and blow toads. Puppy drum fishing from the beaches has remained fair, and the bluefish have made a decent showing at times. Some bluefish have been near 10-pounds.

These size bluefish are generally very long and narrow, but are still a feisty fight.

Citation red drum have been put down on the south end of Ocracoke, Hatteras Inlet, and Cape Point.

Cape Point has had some really good runs of drum.

Yes. Cape Point is closed to all ORV traffic, but it is open to pedestrian traffic and this does include having to walk around a bird enclosure. I highly recommend talking with a local tackle shop employee to make sure you fully understand this process.

I recognize and fully agree with the fact that these closures are a pain in the rear and are unnecessary. I also fully recognize that the very young, old, disabled, and large families would have a difficult time making this walk.

However, I know of several people with some decent physical impairments who are making this short walk. If you have an ORV driving permit and park next to the closure, the walk is not all that bad.

My stepson and his uncle recently parked at the cleaning stations at Ramp 44 and walked in. It took them about 35 minutes to do so.

Pack light and travel light and the walk will be less than what most do around their neighborhood in the evenings.

I see no relief from the current ORV management plan in the immediate future. I do not expect the current lawsuit or the bills in Congress to be expedited in any way.

So, for the physically capable, you can sit at home and whine and moan, while letting others walk out and catch your fish-- or you can make an effort and probably be rewarded for it.

The serious drum hunters whom I respect and have learned from have described the recent bites on the Point as “epic.”

Both Rodanthe and Avon piers are open and in full swing. They both are reporting a mixture of blues, sea mullet, croaker, spot, small flounder, and puppy drum.

I've gotten out a few times in recent weeks in my kayak chasing puppy drum in the sound and while I've managed to hit them each time, some days have been better than others.

But when the bite has been hot, it’s really good. I caught 25 pups in 30 casts one day.

I also made the 3-mile paddle from the Frisco closure to Cape Point with a friend the other day. It's wasn't that bad for either of us, as we both have some time spent in a kayak.

But, the conditions were a tad brutal. We faced a steady headwind from the southeast, along with a steady 1- to 2-foot swell and chop that was white-capping.

Yes. This was less than ideal, but we have to make our runs when we can.

There were tons of sea life all along our trip -- tons of bait, dolphins, sea turtles, bluefish, sharks and drum. Although we both hooked a drum, we both pulled the hook on them next to our kayaks.

It happens. It's not the first time and it will not be the last time a hook is pulled.

I do not recommend any newbie making that run -- ever. It's a long way in open water and a lot can go wrong.

At best, an intermediate paddler can make this run, but be aware of your limitations and always have a plan and at least one other person with you.

It took my buddy and me an hour and twenty minutes to make that crossing in those conditions and we never eased up.

I'll be making that run again real soon. I liked what I saw and feel like another run or two and we could hit the drum in a big way.

So, the fishing is good and the weather can be questionable, but when the weather is good, it's really good.

Don't sit on your couch wishing you were fishing or complaining about the Park Service. There has been enough complaining from every household about this year's weather.

Get outside and blow off some cabin fever.

Come down to the islands and make a go of it. The local tackle shops, restaurants, stores and motels are ready to accommodate you, your friends and your family.

Anything is better than being at work.

Go fishing and play hard.

(Rob Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 13 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, Release Reels, Yakattack and is an ambassador for Ugly Stik. You can follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)

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