July 13, 2016
Outer Banks Angling: Oddities
By ROB ALDERMAN
The past couple of weeks have packed some serious heat indices.
Lots of sun and high humidity have made for some seriously warm days.
At times the heat indexes have reached or exceeded the 100-degree mark.
But, that didn’t stop people from wetting lines.
A couple of the talked-about catches of late may seem odd to some, but not those who have some knowledge of the area.
Recently, anglers on Avon Pier have caught a few decent-size mahi-mahi or “dolphin,” if you prefer.
Yes, these are a pelagic fish typically found in the warm, offshore
waters of the Gulf Stream, but like many species they can and do make
their way inshore.
While you probably will never find anyone baling these fish a couple
hundred yards off the beach, that doesn’t mean that a handful
won't sometimes be caught. The right wind and water temps could
easily drive these fish just off the shore.
Dolphin ranging from a couple pounds to 10 pounds aren’t that uncommon
from a pier at this time of year in our area, but it is a touch bit
rare to see three of them -- all 10 pounds or more -- caught from
a pier in a matter of two days. Two of the fish were 10 pounds and one
topped out at 13.
A water temp of 80 degrees and an east wind definitely helped to contribute to this bite.
Another species some may find odd for the area is tarpon. Many believe
that you have to go to Florida to catch these highly sought gamefish,
but that is simply not true. Tarpon are caught all the way up to the
Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Schools of tarpon have been seen swimming and rolling the surface as
far north as Kitty Hawk of late. And, a couple have been decked on the
Once again, it’s not uncommon with this warm weather and water for
these fish to be caught and there is even a tarpon boat tournament held
annually in August in Oriental, N.C. Typically, the area sees a spike
in these fish as the full moons of August and September approach, but
if the conditions are right they can appear in big numbers much sooner.
Don’t let magazines and wannabe “know-it-alls” tell you what can or can't be caught on the Outer Banks.
The truth is that this is the mid-Atlantic and we have both the
Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream passing very close to our shores.
This means just about any species could come swimming onto your line. A
friend had a baby snook in his fish tank for a while that he had caught
in his cast net in the sound.
Are some of the species common in the area? No. Does this mean that you
will not catch one? No. It just means that on any given fishing trip,
anything is possible.
July and the average pier and surf reports are typical for the extreme
heat. Most days are going to see small spot and croaker, along with the
dawn and dusk runs of Spanish mackerel and bluefish. Sea mullet, pompano, flounder and the occasional puppy drum are all possible on any given day.
There have been a few nice drum caught from the sand, along with a few really nice-size Spanish mackerel.
It’s always best to check with the local gurus at the area’s tackle
shops to get the best up-to-date info. Where to be, when to be there,
and what bait to use changes by the tide.
A mixed bag of tuna, mahi, billfish and wahoo continues for the offshore fleets.
Kiting baits has produced some large big-eye tuna for the patient. And
yes, it is what it sounds like. The boats use special kites to fly live
baits just below the surface behind the boat and wait for a surface
Inshore boats around Hatteras continue to pick at some cobia in the
ocean, along with nice catches of bluefish and Spanish mackerel.
Inshore boats targeting drum have managed to do well with puppy drum
and they continue to pick at schools of larger red drum.
Inshore boats near Oregon Inlet are still catching the occasional cobia
and they managed to find a nice-size school of red drum this past week
that provided plenty of entertainment for a few days.
Good catches of Spanish mackerel and bluefish were also boated.
I’ve managed to work some backwaters recently from my kayak. I haven’t
found much to brag about, but I did catch plenty of throw-back
flounder, speckled trout, and stripers.
I am really shocked by the number of small stripers out there and even more excited about it.
I hope these young fish thrive and grow into larger fish that will give
us some good fall action in the years to come. Stripers do not grow
quickly, but these 12-inch fish today could be 30-inch fish down the
In typical July fashion, the forecasts are hot, with a chance of
rain most days of the week. But, in many cases, forecasts for rain just
days in advance seem to vanish to near nothing, so I am not generally
deterred by a forecast until the day is almost upon me.
It’s summer. The air and water are hot. The traffic is thick. And, the area is in full swing.
Come on down to this quaint place called the Outer Banks and wet a line
and work on your tan --it’s got to be better then working.
Go fishing and play hard.
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