November 9, 2015

Outer Banks Angling: Feel the beat of the drum


Since my last column, the red drum bite has picked up tenfold from pier and surf.

From Salvo to Avon, the surf bite has been really good at times. Many citation fish have been landed by those targeting the big boys. I talked to friends who got into them and saw plenty of photos hitting social media.

Cape Point has had a few really big runs of drum. A mixed bag of citations, yearlings and puppy drum have been around most days and have swarmed the beach a couple of times.

Surf fishermen on Ocracoke have had their share also. Tradewinds Bait and Tackle has been regularly posting photos from the surf, and I’ve had a few friends who have made their way down there and have been rewarded for their time.

Avon Pier has done very well putting them on the planks. Some big number days have gone down.

My family and I continue to chase hard. For me and my stepson, Braxton, it’s all about a personal challenge.

The “fall trifecta,” we like to call it. The two of us are trying hard to put down citation drum from kayak, pier, and surf. We’ve managed the first two and then some, but we're  still trying to get the job done from the surf.

We’ve put in some work from the surf that yielded some yearlings and pups, but my wife is the only one to beach a citation.

Go figure.  Braxton and I are specifically targeting large fish, with large gear, while my wife was specifically targeting puppy drum with smaller gear. We catch small, and she catches large.

The fall is truly the only time we have a shot at this personal challenge.

The spring run of big fish is caught 99.9 percent of the time from surf and boat. These fish do not hit the piers. A few may be taken, but it’s extremely rare. And, while I’ve caught spring fish quite a few times from the kayak, they are not commonly caught this way.

Like most fall seasons, the discussion of why anglers go after a fish -- big red drum -- that  they have to release keeps hitting the fishing forums and social media.

A popular social media hashtag says it all – "the tug is the drug."

A red drum of any size is a powerful fish, and when you get into the citation category, they put up a heck of a fight.

When you chase these fish from the different venues of pier, surf, boat, and kayak, each fight is completely different and has its own struggles.

Some of the area’s top mates and captains, who chase some of the biggest fish in the Gulf Stream, are also some of the most addicted to chasing drum. These individuals catch some monster billfish and tunas and reel-smoking wahoos, only to spend their down time fishing for drum.

That says a lot about the species. They are just fun to chase.

Big drum continue to get caught from the northern piers and the water temps remain right for the rest of the Outer Banks, so my thoughts remain the same for Hatteras and Ocracoke.

There should still be some good bites left to come if the weather cooperates.

How do you go about catching one of these old fish?

Well, I could type for days and put up a ton of pics, but that wouldn’t come close to helping you in the grand scheme. But, if you go into a local tackle shop and ask for help, they’ll be able to set you up with the right tackle and bait, along with pointing you towards one of the current hot spots. They can walk you through the knots and rigging much better than I can in an article.

Hands-on is the best knowledge.

There are still plenty of small bluefish for pier and surf fishermen. And there have been some really nice sea mullet caught from pier and surf. Citation-size fish have regularly made the reports. Flounder, small trout, spot and croaker have also been decked and beached.

So, it doesn’t matter if you are looking for large or small fish inshore, the fishing has been good.

Offshore fishing has remained solid with good catches of tuna and mahi, along with some nice wahoo. Billfish continue to get picked at.

Inshore  boats continue to catch Spanish mackerel, blues, drum, and albacore.

Nearshore boats are still catching good numbers of wreck fish and the king mackerels have started showing up in fair numbers.

We are now into the second week of November, and all the surf fishing tournaments are over.

This is generally a dead time on the Outer Banks, as most people now will plan their next trip around Thanksgiving. Coming down in the next couple of weeks means you are going to own this place.

If you can swing a trip during the week, it’s more than likely going to look like a ghost town in comparison to other times of  the year. Now would be ideal for combining a good pier, surf and boat trip.

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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