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 piers.

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.

It's 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 strike.

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 road.

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.

(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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