May 29, 2015

Outer Banks Angling: It has begun


Memorial Day has come and gone, and judging by the traffic all along the Outer Banks, I’d like to think it was a successful weekend for locals.

The weather was drop dead gorgeous. It was mildly cool at times, but the sun was out with hardly a cloud in the sky.

While the true boom for summer visitors generally begins around mid-June, Memorial Day weekend generally marks the start of the season. Some schools in other states have ended the year by then, though that might not be the case this year since many schools are having to make up for snow days.

One thing is for certain -- after a long cold winter, businesses and their employees are definitely ready to get the ball rolling. And the marinas were among the businesses that had a really busy weekend.

Everywhere I looked, there was a boat being towed down the road or parked in front of a rental house. It made sense. Beautiful weather and cobia in the water equates to a lot of business, especially during a three-day weekend.

I took an offshore trip on Sunday and saw the madness first hand. The public ramps at Oregon Inlet and Teach’s Lair Marina were busting at the seams with trucks and trailers. And most of the inshore and recreational fleets were gone from the docks.

Cobia fishing proved to be really good on Saturday for a lot of people and seemed to slow down as the weekend went on and the fish felt the pressure of all the additional anglers. Cobia that are constantly being thrown on by sight-casters tend to become more skittish and develop lock jaw.

But cobia still made the reports every day, and photos of anglers and their catches flooded social media.

The cobia have been pushing hard the past few weeks, and my thoughts are that their overall numbers will drop dramatically really soon, but the fish will continue to get picked at for weeks to come. So booking a cobia trip at this point would still be a good idea.

Along with the cobia, there were good reports of puppy drum for boaters near Hatteras Inlet, where anglers also caught Spanish mackerel and bluefish.

Surf anglers managed a variety of fish. Pompano, sea mullet, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, small spot and croaker all were caught, along with the occasional cobia from the sand.
No. These fish were not hauled in all along Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. These fish are on the move, and their best biting locations will vary by species with water temps and wind direction.

Always seek the advice of a local tackle shop on where, when and how you should fish the different areas of the islands.

Fishing has been decent on the Rodanthe and Avon piers recently, with a variety of fish getting caught. Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sea mullet, flounder, small spot and croaker all made their way over the railing.

I’ve said it before—pier fishing can be a great way to get your family out to wet a line, as the piers have everything you need to fish, including a blanket fishing license. Check them out.

Offshore fishing was a little scattered this past weekend, but overall it was still good. Mahi-mahi and tuna continued to dominate the scene, though their numbers were hit or miss.

One thing is for sure. June is generally a very hot month for yellowfin tuna, and there were some good reports recently from Oregon Inlet and even better from the fleets out of southern Virginia. My guess would be that the yellowfin bite lights up any day now, so booking a trip soon will ensure you have a shot at them.

As I mentioned earlier, I made it offshore with the wife, kids, and a couple friends. The girls fished from the boat, while the fellas launched kayaks on a weed line that we had all to ourselves.

It wasn’t long before I heard my buddy come across the radio and say he was hooked up and minutes later, so was I. We can target mahi the same way from a kayak, as one would from a boat by trolling baits down the weed line.

And this would be how my buddy, Matt, hooked his fish.

But from the kayak you can cruise 10 feet or so off the weed line and sight-cast them, which is what I did using a trout rod and power bait, which is similar to a grub.

Shortly after landing my first bailer that was 5 or 6 pounds, I was hooked up with another fish that was around 10 to 12 pounds.

The fun part of sight-casting for these fish is that they immediately start flying through the air and putting on quite the aerobatic display. But, this is also where, a lot of times, an angler loses these fish.

After my second fish, several more were hooked but lost amongst us. The girls ended up catching a couple from the boat and that was our day.

We saw a fair amount of mahi, but getting them to bite or keeping them on the hook wasn’t easy.

This type of trip is not something you can just call up any Outer Banks captain and sign up for, and that's for obvious reasons. There are some dangerous creatures that roam are offshore waters and an encounter with one in a small piece of plastic that sits only inches off the water could prove interesting.

The wife allowed our 17-year-old to do this trip only after years of his pleading -- and only because it was all he wanted for his high school graduation present.

I’ve worked with a few different local captains doing this over the years, and I’d like to thank the guys over at Twisted Tuna Sportfishing for accommodating us this time and doing a great job.

The weather forecasts continue to look good. After such a harsh winter, we have definitely been rewarded with one of our best springs in recent years.

The official Outer Banks tourist season is here and we welcome all of you.

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy, but whatever you do, 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 or

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