July 21, 2014

Outer Banks Angling: The summer doldrums


The month of July has been quite interesting in the weather department.

From hurricanes to mini-northeasters, hard southwest winds, and torrential downpours, we have seen it all.

But the weather is not responsible for the slower fishing. It's just summer.

And every year around July, the fishing backs down some, but that doesn't mean there aren't fish to be caught.

On Hatteras and Ocracoke, July can be a great time to target pompano and sea mullet
from the surf.  While you might not catch these fish hand-over-fist, you do have the chance of catching nice-size sea mullet or pompano -- or even a citation. 

You can generally find these fish cruising very close to the surf line, and there are a variety of ways to catch these fish.

One of the easiest and best ways  nowadays is to go by your local tackle shop and pick up a River Rig.  These locally made rigs have helped many anglers catch a lot of nice fish. 

Using these rigs with sand fleas or fresh shrimp is very productive.  In recent weeks, I have seen quite a few nice pompano hit the Internet and fishing reports.

Asking for a little assistance at a local tackle shop could take a slow day of fishing and turn it into a nice fish for your dinner table and paper for your fishing "wall of fame."

Along with the sea mullet and the pompano, there have been reports of bluefish, Spanish mackerel, small croaker, spot, and some flounder from the surf along Hatteras and Ocracoke. 

In July, there will not be too many tricks to it.  You will either be in the right place at the right time or you won't be.  But always remember that you could be at work.

Mahimahi fishing for the Hatteras fleets has been really good for most of the month. Time and time again, limits of this fish have been reported.  Scattered wahoo and billfish have helped add variety to the catches. 

While wreck fishing has yielded the usual suspects of triggerfish and sea bass, there have also been some red snappers making the reports, and they are excellent table fare.

The inshore boats around Hatteras and Ocracoke continue to catch puppy drum in decent numbers.  Some days have been better than others, but the numbers of fish caught have held relatively strong.

Speckled trout, flounder, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel have also found their way into the coolers of the inshore boats.

Rodanthe and Avon piers are still great locations for the non-avid fisherman and family to try their luck.  The piers offer rental rods, bait, and blanket licenses, which lets you simply show up, get what you need, and start fishing. 

As of late, pier fishing has yielded small spot and croaker, some flounder, triggerfish, bluefish, and Spanish mackerel. 

At this time of year, you can expect to see the bluefish and Spanish mackerel bite at its best early in the morning and in the late evenings, although the fish have been known to bite at all times through the day.

Using a jerk jigger or Gotcha plug will generally yield the best results for catching blues or Spanish mackerel from the piers.

You may even see a larger fish come over the railing while you are out there fishing -- one angler recently caught a cobia that was just under 60 pounds off the Rodanthe pier. 

The tuna bite has fallen off considerably for the fleets running through Oregon Inlet, but it is the time of year for this.  It will only be a few weeks or so before good reports of white marlin fishing will begin.

For now, a variety of scattered tuna, billfish, mahi, and wahoo will more than suffice for most anglers.

Inshore boats around Oregon Inlet are still finding puppy drum, speckled trout, and flounder.  And, just like with the Hatteras boats, some days are better than others, but that's why they call it fishing.

For most, a day on the water is a day well spent.

The overall sound waters continue to produce for the waders, kayakers, and recreational boaters.  You might have to put in some work and fish a lot of ground, but there are puppy drum, speckled trout, and flounder to be found.

With my guide clients, some days I have hammered the fish and some days I can only wish that I hammered the fish, but we generally stumble across something. 

While I could give you a hundred different ways to target these fish, I would recommend that you stop by a local tackle shop.  These shops are manned with avid fishermen ready to help you catch a fish. 

I won't even try to discuss the extended forecast, as at this time of year it seems to change by the hour. 

What I will say is that if you do not have a trip planned, know that the beach is white, the water is warm, and there are lots of nice folks ready and willing to assist you in relaxing on these two islands. 

If the fishing is slow, there are many activities to do on the water.  The Outer Banks is considered a premier watersports destination on the Eastern Seaboard.

You can definitely find a way to get wet!

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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