November 24, 2015

Outer Banks Angling: Red, white, and stripes


The past couple of weeks the weather has been a little more like fall -- or even more like pre-winter. The winds have seemed to spin in all directions, and we have had some heavy rains.

Has this affected the fishing?

It would appear that it has affected the red drum bite, since it has slowed considerably.

There have been drum of all sizes caught from Ramp 23  to the south end of Ocracoke, but nothing like we were seeing at the end of October and the beginning of November.

I wanted to believe at the beginning of the month that the weather and fishing were shaping up for a long drum bite throughout the month or more, but that hasn’t been the case. The drum are being caught sporadically, and there is no true consistency to it.

But, that's fishing -- there is no guarantee.

The water temp is hovering around the low 60s from Rodanthe towards Buxton, and it gets a little warmer as you wrap the tip of Cape Point and head towards Ocracoke. So, the conditions are still conducive for the drum to bite, and there could still be another solid bite along the islands.

In other news, there is a new pending, state record white marlin. The 138-pound stud punishes the previous record that stood for nearly 40 years by 20 pounds.

The once-in-a-lifetime white marlin was caught aboard the “Fin-Again” during an overnight trip out of Hatteras. The previous record of 118 pounds was set in 1976 out of Oregon Inlet.

What an excellent surprise for the crew and party, and it’s a testament to the fact that you never know what might happen when you wet a line.

Some more big news would be the overwhelming striped bass bite. For the past few weeks, the reports of small striped bass on the area’s bridges have gotten better and better. While the fish started to make an appearance in October, as the water temps have begun to fall, the bite has gotten better.

It has been several years now since there has been much to report in the striper department. During the winter of 2011, the area saw some larger fish push in from the north and it led to some decent fishing for a couple of weeks for the boaters.

Resident fish have been a completely different story for some time now.

Even though there have been some scattered striper reports that were short-lived each fall for the past six or seven years, I say this is the most solid and respectable one. Social media and fishing reports have been alive with the local action.

While there have been some fish caught in the high 20-inch range, the average have been around 18-24 inches.

Recreational anglers and professional fishermen have been taking full advantage of the action. I managed to chase after them the other night with my wife, Lisa. We launched our kayaks  just prior to the weekend’s cold front Saturday night to chase fish down at a local bridge.

We couldn’t have asked for better night-time conditions in kayaks, as there was not an ounce of wind, and there was about a three-quarter moon with  a clear sky. We could see the approaching storm front on the horizon, but it was slow moving and allowed for several hours of perfect fishing.

With the slick calm conditions and natural lighting, it made Lisa’s first night-time kayak adventure as easy as it could ever be. I’ve been chasing stripers at night from a kayak in Virginia waters for years now, so it was no big deal for me, but Lisa was little uneasy at first.

Fishing from a kayak is complicated enough during daylight hours, because of the limited space and how you must deal with certain situations. Take away the daylight, and it becomes more complicated by tenfold and definitely takes some getting used to.

On this night, I limited out with my three sound fish, and I completely skunked my wife.
But I’ve been targeting these fish for most of my life in Virginia and North Carolina waters, so I had a little advantage over her.

The fish were being very finicky, but there was no lack of them. It was nothing to see a school erupt in the moonlight or to run over top of an unseen school and have them explode all around the kayaks.

And this went on for hours. And, while Lisa never caught a fish, she had a blast witnessing something she had never seen before, while trying something she had never done before.

Those "schoolies" made for a nice fried fish dinner in my house.

Given the overall number of these fish and the vast area in which they are being caught, I’d expect this to continue until the water drops below 50 degrees. The sound waters are shallow, so that might not take too many cold fronts like we’ve seen in the recent past, but only time will tell.

These fish are young, so I wouldn’t expect this class of stripers to push in the ocean and bite when the temps fall. I expect they will just shut down altogether, with maybe a few larger fish making their way through Oregon Inlet.

Another one of those "time-will-tell" deals.

Bluefish, sea mullet, blow toads, speckled trout, black drum, flounder and other bottom fish continue to make the surf and pier reports, and they should continue for another couple of weeks or longer if the water temps hold.

The offshore fleets continue to do well.

Tunas of all colors have made the recent reports. Blackfin, yellowfin and even a few bluefin have been boated, along with good numbers of king mackerel. Scattered wahoo, mahi, and billfish are still in the deep for the taking.

Thanksgiving is upon us and the fishing on all fronts is good. The weather looks decent overall for the long holiday weekend.

So, skip Black Friday and make a run south. You’ll still find some good end-of-year sales at the local tackle shops and area businesses -- and more than likely will have some fresh fish to go with that leftover turkey.

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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