June 16, 2016

Outer Banks Angling: And we’re off

By ROB ALDERMAN

Given our recent temps and heat indexes, I would have to say that summer is officially off and running. Lately, it has been hot and muggy, with a couple scattered cooler days, but the heat is definitely here.

But, no big deal, as we are surrounded by water and have plenty of ways to cool down.

I’d have to rate the fishing as decent. There have been fair reports both inshore and offshore. And, whether it's good or bad, fishing has to be better than being at work. For those on vacation, time spent with lines in the water has to be relaxing, as opposed to dealing with a boss or clients. For those that live around here, slow fishing can be frustrating, but it still has its relaxing properties.

Offshore fishing reports have remained solid overall.

I’ve seen some great pics of wreck fishing that included triggerfish, snapper, sheepshead, and more. If you’ve never taken a dedicated wreck fishing trip, you are truly missing out. Wreck fishing can be tons of fun and yield a great deal of meat for the freezer. A lot of times, the captains will use deep-drop rods with bait and even throw in some butterfly jigging, which makes for an anything-can-bite type of day. It’s not uncommon to see and catch mahi on these trips around the wrecks or hang into large amberjacks.

Like butterfly jigging, deep-dropping bait on offshore wrecks puts the angler in a hands-on position of holding the rod and waiting for the bite. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend talking it over with your group and researching it more with some of our fine local captains who offer these trips.

The boats in the bluewater continue to do well with mahi and tuna, along with billfish. Big eyes, yellowfin, and even a few blackfin tuna continue to hit the docks in good numbers. These fish always make for happy customers.

The wahoo bite is sounding a little better with each passing day, and I would think it’ll only get better as the temps continue to rise and maintain.

The inshore boats around Hatteras continue to pick at cobia, while catching plenty of blues and Spanish mackerel. Some of the inshore guides who generally target puppy drum have had some great days. And, even some smaller mahi have made it near shore and have been caught.

The inshore boats near Oregon Inlet have still been catching cobia, along with some nice Spanish and bluefish. And, like their brothers and sisters to the south, the near shore around Oregon Inlet boats have also caught mahi on inshore grass lines.

Surf fishing has put some nice pompano and sea mullet on the sand, along with bluefish and Spanish mackerel.

Summer beach fishing can be productive for those targeting sea mullet and pompano, but it can be tricky for the less experienced. Timing, location, rigs and bait all play into catching these fish during the heat of the summer.

I recommend talking with the guys and gals at the local tackle shops for advice on how to catch these fish if you are not familiar with chasing them in summer. Summer beach fishing is tricky and can change daily, so seeking local knowledge will go a long way. What tackle works one day, might not work the next. Bait and lures can change with the tides or time of day.

Pier fishing has been fair, with some puppy drum, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and other bottom fish hitting the decks. Some cobia have been caught and even a mahi or two have made an appearance.

Yes, mahi can be within beach casting distance at times. No, you generally will not see a 30-pound-plus bull, but fish up to 20 pounds aren’t as unusual as you might think. The right wind and water temps can drive them to shore.

Over the years, even the occasional small billfish has found itself resting on the planks. This is the mid-Atlantic, where the Gulf Stream and Labrador currents meet  — anything is possible.

Sooner or later, the true summer doldrums will set in and the fishing will slow from all venues, but that is not the case for now. Most anglers will find themselves pulling in something for the effort they put in.

Now, school is out and the traffic gets thicker with each week, the lines at the stores are longer, and you’ll probably have a wait time at your favorite restaurant -- but it’s all good.

You’re on vacation.

Enjoy it.

The weather forecasts are typical for summer -- hot with a chance of rain. Don’t be frustrated by it, but rather use the clear skies to fish and the rain to shop and eat. There is always something to do around here at this time of year.

Go fishing and play hard.

(Rob Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 16 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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