November 30, 2016

Outer Banks Angling: Winding down


After being hit by Hurricane Matthew and having a slower than normal start to some of the fall fishing, the winding down has been great.

Offshore fishermen have had some really good days chasing king mackerel.

Looking for kings offshore in late October and in November has grown in popularity over the years. Kings have always been hot for commercial fishermen and a few others, but the recreational side of fishing for them has grown in the past decade.

I see more and more friends who never used to chase kings, chasing them now -- and hard.

From a table-fare standpoint, you either like them or you don’t. There’s not much in between. They are an oily fish that tastes oily, and that doesn’t work well for some.

From a fighting standpoint, kings can decimate the wrong gear. The kings that weigh over 30 pounds are known as reel smokers. If you’ve ever seen one caught from a pier while live baiting, then you know these fish can make huge runs that strip off an incredible amount of line.

All the above holds true from a boat. In most cases, the boats are looking to catch live menhaden and then feed them out to the kings lurking around the schools of bait in search of a meal.

In many cases, the anglers are using some semi-heavy spinning gear for this and that type of fishing is always a blast.

Many local captains offer these types of trips, along with the head boat, Miss Hatteras.

Although king mackerel fishing is winding down for the year, with the ever-growing popularity of it, now is a good time to make some calls and inquire. It’s never too soon to plan an adventure.

Red drum finally made a great appearance at Cape Point. While they generally start making a showing around Labor Day, there weren't many around during September or October. However, the drum did show up, and they showed up quite properly. The Internet came alive with some stellar bites.

I had friends going out almost nightly, and they would each catch numerous yearlings and citations.

There are still drum being caught at the Point, but the anglers are weeding through some serious sharks in order to catch them.

If the water temps hold, the drum should continue to be picked at, but at this time of year, the sharks aren’t going anywhere, so be prepared to pay the tax man.

The drum also made a couple great runs at the Avon Pier. Several times, multiple anglers were hooked up at any given moment for hours. These are the types of runs that true drum hunters live for.

Avon Pier will close for the season on Sunday, Dec. 4. Rodanthe Pier has already closed for the season.

So, while you may not be able to access your favorite pier until spring, light northeast or southwest winds could produce some fair fishing from the surf if the weather holds.

I’ve managed to hit some area bridges a few times looking for "schoolie" stripers and have been successful each time. While I’ve yet to see the numbers I saw last year, I’ve seen the fish boiling on the surface and that’s always fun.

I’ve seen some reports of a lot of smaller fish, but, to date, my smallest is 22 inches, which if you limit out, makes for a decent dinner.

If the weather holds and the water temps stay at or above 50 degrees in the sound, then it will make sense to try your hand at some stripers on light tackle. Small grubs and Rattle Traps work great, along with a small top-water plug, should you find them on the surface.

Bottom line is that it's post-Thanksgiving, and the crowds are gone until Christmas.

Going out to chase drum, speckled trout, puppy drum, striper or anything else from the surf, boat or kayak will generally mean you don’t see a lot of people. And, with the chance of still catching a decent fish, it doesn’t get much better.

Overall, it’s December and as the water and weather continue to cool, the fishing will slow considerably. But, the Outer Banks has had some weird winters the past several years. We may never see any truly sustained cold weather or we might get crushed with it.

The better the weather, the better the winter fishing. Time will tell the tale.

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 or

Video by Capt Dave Lusk of Salt Minded Charters.

comments powered by Disqus