April 16 ,2015
Outer Banks Angling:
Walk don't Whine
By ROB ALDERMAN
seems to be coming in true fashion, which is something we really
haven’t seen in recent years. The temps have been as you would expect
during a normal mid-Atlantic spring. Daily highs have consistently hit
the mid-60s and this has led to some phenomenal fishing --
especially in the red drum category.
The inshore boats have
done very well chasing the schools of drum and sight-casting for them
from the Hook to Hatteras Inlet. There have also been some decent bites
at Cape Point from time to time.
Puppy drum have been caught from Coquina Beach to Ocracoke from shore, boat, and kayak.
toads have made an appearance as far north as Avalon pier and can be
found on Hatteras and Ocracoke, along with sea mullet and bluefish.
But, the good spring bite is not what I want to focus on in this column.
week, after a couple good days of fishing, Cape Point was closed to
off-road vehicle access for a pair of courting American oystercatchers.
These birds do not need this level of protection, since they are not
federally protected and are only a bird of concern in the state of
North Carolina, and on a good day you will see quite a few of these in
backwaters of the sound.
Nevertheless, current National Park
Service policy gives these birds a lot of protection that can and
usually does affect some type of access within the park. When Cape
Point closes to ORVs, folks who really want to fish have to walk around
Anyone that knows me or has followed me knows I do
not support this stuff in any manner. I do believe in protecting
resources, but not with rules that far exceed anything in any other
national park in the U.S.
Every time these closures are announced,
many people hit the web and social media to denounce them. Some simply
state their distaste for these actions, while others claim that this
has destroyed their fishing and that they will not or cannot take a
walk to get to the fish.
You will see comments from folks who
say they are too old for hiking, have too many young children to handle
it, or suffer from some type of ailment that prohibits them from making
a ¾-mile, 10-minute walk. They ask how they are supposed to lug all the
gear for the family out to the Point or they will just flat out say
that these resource closures have ruined their fishing, so they no
longer do it.
Unless you suffer from severe ailments, have lost
the use of your legs, are very old or have a newborn baby, then I have
only one thing to say to you: Grow up!
I have walked to Cape
Point and seen many a child or elderly person or someone I know has a
disability walking out there. I still see all the people I learned to
drum fish from and whom I have the utmost respect for as fishermen
taking this walk. Ninety-nine percent of the Outer Banks' top anglers
make this walk regularly.
Neither these comments nor my decision
to walk means that I support the Park Service policy on resource
closures. Others who are walking also disagree with the regulations.
Walking simply means that we love to fish Cape Point and other areas
and that we will not allow the adversity to stop us from enjoying our
If you allow adversity to prevent you from enjoying
something you love, then you never truly loved it the way you thought
or proclaimed you did.
Nothing in life that is rewarding is easy. The same goes for fishing Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke in this day and age.
you don't support the NPS policy, you can still fish. You just have to
work harder. On any given night, you might see 50 to 80 people of all
ages who have taken a walk to try and catch fish.
I feel sorry
for those who do have legitimate reasons not to walk. And I feel like
if they could make the walk, they would -- especially if fishing is a
true passion for them.
So, you have a couple young children –
good. A 5-year-old can carry a couple plastic sand spikes with no
problem, and the 8-year-old can lug the soft cooler with bait. So, you
are older and some parts don’t work as well as they once did. In that
case, you can pop a squat on the sand and take a break.
the winter of 2011, I managed to snap my left Achilles tendon twice in
a 90-day period. That injury was devastating and my leg has never
been right since. My left leg is one third the size of my right leg, my
balance is impaired, and my right leg has developed issues from
carrying more of my weight.
Now my right foot has developed
plantar fasciitis, which is very painful. It can bring a grown man to
tears to just get out of bed in the morning. The doctor is trying to
help my right foot, but that may take some time. For the time being, he
told me not to walk barefoot, not to wear flip flops, and not to walk
in the sand.
Are you kidding me? I live at the beach, and you
want me to stop all of this? Forget it. My pain and discomfort are the
price I am willing to pay for my passion.
So, I took a walk to Cape Point last Friday night and it hurt like hell, but I pushed with all I had for five hours.
guess what? Although the conditions were prime and all the top drum
hunters were there, not one drum was caught. By the time I got back to
my truck around 12:30 a.m., I just wanted to lie down and die from the
I had to tell myself the same thing I told myself on the
walk out to Cape Point, the entire time I was out fishing, and on the
walk back -- I think I can. The same story of "the little engine that
could" about how to challenge adversity, which is read to children, I
used as a 40-year-old man just trying to go fishing.
And I will continue to use it so that I can continue to enjoy my passion.
My wife looked at me on our drive home and asked if the pain was worth it, given the fact that no fish were caught.
I looked her dead in the face and said, “You are damn right it was. This is what I live for.”
I mean no disrespect to those who cannot make the walk. I mean no
disrespect to all the native islanders who have had their way of life
I just don’t want young people to see grown-ups crying
like babies over how they can't or won’t fish because of a little
hardship. This is not the message to send to our youth -- or our
I don’t know how long Cape Point will be accessible to
those on foot, but I do know it’s open now to those willing to put in a
little work and it is always rewarding -- no matter if 100 fish
get caught or none at all.
Go fishing and play hard.
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.)