After the reopening of the Outer Banks to visitors this past Saturday, we are definitely off and running. There was a noticeable swell in visitation all along the Outer Banks, and while there were viable concerns about the return of so many people, the general consensus was happy business owners. The past several weeks has been stressful for many, as it pertains to health and economics. Working our way gently through Phase 1 of North Carolina’s lifting of Stay-at-Home restrictions is a way to relieve stress on both fronts.
The return of the visiting fishermen and women proved to be very productive over the weekend, with great reports being posted.
I’ll start with the seasonal favorites of cobia and drum.
While there has been some cobia caught from Ocracoke to Hatteras Inlet, there hasn’t been an overwhelming amount in that area for fish that are pushing up from the south. Out of left field on Sunday, a sizable knot of cobia appeared outside of Oregon Inlet, which yielded incredible fishing for most of the day. You may be wondering why this happened, and the answer is simple: there is sometimes no rhyme or reason to fishing, but more than likely, this was attributed to a constant spinning wind the past few weeks that drove a lot of these fish around the southern end of the Outer Banks in different tracks of warmer water. There should be some decent cobia fishing in the next couple of weeks to come, weather permitting.
The drum continued to be caught from the surf at Cape Point most of last week until Tropical Storm Arthur came through on Monday. I partook in a couple decent bites and it never gets old. Along with the surf, some really good numbers of drum got caught from the boats. It’s a tad interesting that this late in spring we’re seeing this many drum still being caught and seen, but no one is complaining and there are plenty of anglers hoping it continues. Generally, as the water warms and more cobia appear, the drum near Hatteras and Ocracoke Inlet begin to push into the sound for the summer spawning season. Some already have, as there have been reports of big drum being caught inside of Oregon Inlet already.
There was one 44 lb. cobia caught from Cape Point this weekend, along with endless amounts of bluefish, with some Spanish mackerel mixed in. The highlight of my week was watching local fishing legend and friend, Kevin McCabe, fight a 44” or so drum on essentially his trout rod, which at the time he was throwing a metal lure for Spanish and bluefish. He did manage to land that fish, along with another young lad, who had been fortunate enough to be casting a lure, when a small group of drum came through.
Cape Point gets a bad rap sometimes from anglers, as it can get very crowded. Getting tangled or losing fish at times due to this can be exhausting and frustrating, but in 20 years, I’ve seen some crazy fishing stories play out there, unlike any other place I’ve fished… Not that I’m taking away from other areas, as that’s not my intention. It’s just very unique and holds a lot of history and culture for Hatteras surf fishing and fishing in general on the Outer Banks.
Sea mullet made a great showing last week and weekend, with a fair amount being caught along Hatteras beaches and quite a few citation-sized fish being weighed in at Hatteras tackle shops.
Stephanie at Frank and Fran’s tackle shop in Avon was very happy with the action the past several days and had weighed in a few citation sea mullet at her store. She also reported some puppy drum, black drum, pompano, blues and Spanish scattered along the beaches of Hatteras.
I did speak with Allen at Tradewinds, who was very excited to finally have people returning to Ocracoke, after all they’ve been through with closures due to the virus and Hurricane Dorian. He said the fishing has been decent, and they were happy to have more anglers to catch fish and bring in reports. Black drum, grey trout, puppy drum, sea mullet, blue fish and Spanish were being reported along the Ocracoke beaches.
There are many fine tackle shops on the Outer Banks and they are ready to set you up with the appropriate bait and tackle, and point you in the right direction.
The offshore action along the Banks remains solid, with excellent catches of yellowfin tuna and gaffer dolphin, and decent amounts of blackfin tuna also.
Inshore boats and kayakers continue to catch speckled trout and puppy drum in the backwaters, with some schoolie stripers still running around.
The inlets have been tough at times and can be tricky for those not used to running them every day, so if you’re bringing your boat down, be careful and if in doubt, hire a professional. We have an amazing amount of professional inshore and offshore captains located in some great marinas on the Outer Banks. They’re ready to fish and put you on the action.
Well, that’s it for this round. Hopefully, we continue to gradually reopen and move forward over the coming weeks in these trying times. I know all the businesses on the Outer Banks look forward to the summer and helping our visiting public enjoy their stay.
Until next time… tight lines and happy hunting.