October 20, 2014

Outer Banks Angling: Catch them while you can


Fall is in full swing, and the fishing is quite good.

October is known for its cooler temps, less traffic, and fishing tournaments. It only makes sense that the fishing gets better also.

The drum bite has been really good of late from one end of the Outer Banks to the other.

There has been a solid run of the citation drum off the north beach piers, along with a fair showing off Rodanthe pier and a fair amount of drum of all sizes being caught along the shore and from Cape Point.

The drum have been a huge fall draw for decades now.

This fish is one of the strongest inshore fighters and can give an angler one heck of a workout. While I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking it’s very easy to catch one, it is an Outer Banks fish that you can target and have a fair chance at catching if your timing is right.

Locally, the runs of large drum can be seen from piers, in the surf, and from boats in a manner in which few other places in this country see them, and it is probably why the red drum is the state’s official saltwater fish.

Interestingly, there seem to be two types of fishermen when it comes to paper (citation) drum -- the ones who caught one with very little time or hassle and make it look easy and those who have been chasing one for years, so long that it has almost become their “white whale.”

Nevertheless, whether you have caught one or not, the chase itself is a rush.

Given our current forecasts and weather patterns, I can guess that the drum bite will continue for the foreseeable future.

People always want to know the best rods, reels, bait, locations and techniques for catching these and many other fish.

Your best bet is to visit a local tackle shop and seek out the advice of one of the friendly employees. Being able to see and feel the different riggings and tackle first-hand will go a long way.

Along with the drum, there have been catches of sea mullet, spot, croaker, bluefish, and pompano taken by pier anglers.

The water temps continue to hang above 70 degrees in most areas along the islands, but as that temperature drops, anglers should see an increase in catches of the bottom fish from pier and surf.

At times, Cape Point has continued to have ORV access issues, whether from ocean overwash at high tide or from a temporary night closure because of a turtle nest about to hatch.

On my most recent trip there over the weekend, the Narrows area was just that--very narrow.

This is by far the worst I have ever seen this area, and you can expect that with an onshore wind and a lunar tide, the Point will continue to be inaccessible to ORVs. It's plausible that if the erosion continues and solutions are not found, access to Cape Point by ORV will be lost altogether.

However, the fishing has been good to those making the walk or timing their outings in their ORVs.

Cape Point always has and probably always will be one of the best fall and spring fish producers on the Outer Banks. Between the Labrador and Gulf Stream currents that meet there and the overall structure of Diamond Shoals, this place holds and produces fish like no other on the Outer Banks.

It’s definitely worth a visit in the fall and be prepared to fish, because you could pull up in the middle of a big run of them.

The offshore fleets continue to catch mahi on most outings, along with some nice wahoo, a scattered billfish, and even a few blackfin tuna.

As fall moves along, you can generally expect the blackfin tuna fishing to only get better.
While these fish are the smallest of the tuna family, they still fight hard and are great to eat, so booking a trip for later in the year for these fellas will not disappoint.

The inshore boats continue to do well with puppy drum and the occasional large drum. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and the occasional false albacore have also hit their decks.

And, once again, given all the factors, I expect this fishing to remain solid for a few more weeks.

Along with good fishing in the fall, you will find plenty of good deals on accommodations, along with end-of-year sales at local retailers and tackle shops.

It’s a fine time to come down to the islands and spend a little time.

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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