Finally, after one of the harshest winters I’ve experienced in a 13-year career on the Outer Banks, the weather showed some mercy and reminded us why we love living or visiting here.
The snow, ice, rain, and wind gave way to some nice and steady springtime weather last week. The temps were mild. The sun was out, and people were able to play.
The surf was great and the local hotspots were dotted with surfers and boogie boarders, while the beaches were full of people, local and visiting, trying to get out and enjoy some sand time.
For Hatteras and Ocracoke, the fishing was inspiring.
Puppy drum catching remains solid from Ocracoke up to Buxton with plenty of them hitting the reports each day, and they are still being caught on a combination of bait and lures.
Catching these fish on light tackle is lots of fun and highly entertaining.
A true sign of spring fishing is the sea mullet and blowtoads frequenting the reports a little more often.
These two sought-after fish are great table fare and are a big draw for fishing from the piers and surf of the Outer Banks.
Good runs of these fish can lead to lots of full coolers and freezers.
Citation red drum started making the reports early last week from the south end of Ocracoke, which is just another sign spring is setting in. Many eyes are focused on Ocracoke at this time of year, waiting for the runs of drum to begin and this will help draw some anglers.
Many of those eyes are waiting to see the fish hit on Ocracoke to begin making their plans for Cape Point drum fishing, which unfortunately was brought to a screeching halt after ORV access was closed this past week because of a 75-foot buffer for a pair of breeding piping plover. The buffer is required by the ORV management plan.
This has greatly upset locals and visitors alike, since this has happened just before Easter break, which is big draw for anglers and is a highly anticipated vacation time for local businesses and their employees who have been waiting for some tourist dollars after a long winter.
This closure is actually between Ramp 44 and Cape Point proper, and the Point itself is actually open.
Many will read or hear that you can actually walk out to the Point and that is true, but there are some specific actions that you must follow in order to do so. I highly suggest that you visit a local tackle shop for instructions before attempting this walk to prevent a serious violation and possible ticket from the National Park Service.
Avon Pier and Rodanthe pier are both still closed, but Rodanthe is scheduled to open April 12.
Inshore recreational and charter boats have had a blast this past week catching all the puppy drum swarming in the sound waters. Report after report of hot puppy drum fishing in the sound flooded the Internet.
I ran three guided kayak fishing trips this past week and absolutely wore the puppy drum out in water ranging from 48 to 53 degrees. And these are a nice class of slot-limit fish that range from 20-27 inches.
It is very nice to see this fishery this hot early in the season and we can hope that this puppy drum fishing will continue for several weeks.
The offshore reports still boast bluefin tuna, along with some yellowfin and blackfin mixed in. It will not be long before the reports of mahi-mahi begin to appear.
The filming for National Geographic’s new show, “Wicked Tuna: North versus South,” came to a conclusion at the end of March, and it sounds like it was a success. We can all sit back and wait for the show’s launch sometime this summer to see how our local boats faired.
So, there are fish on the move and they are waiting to be caught, and the weather is improving.
The reality is that it is April on the Outer Banks and the weather could be very nice or a little harsh. However, the air temps should be a lot warmer and foul weather should not last for extended periods of time (Don’t hold me to that!).
Now is a good time to start planning a spring trip and shake loose that cabin fever.
Fishing or not fishing, catching or not catching, a little time spent on a giant sandbar is a great way to rejuvenate the mind and body after a long winter.
(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 www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)