Hatteras Fishing: The Complete Guide

Studying Time: 9 minutes

Fishing in Hatteras, NC is a ceremony of passage for each formidable angler. Over 20 miles from the mainland, in the midst of the Outer Banks, it is a city that’s all about catching fish. Native crews are a few of the finest within the nation. Hatteras’s boat-building heritage is the stuff of legends. Throw in a few of the oceans’ high predators, and also you get a fishery not like the rest on earth.

These are large phrases for such a small city, however Hatteras greater than earns them. From sheltered shallows to the depths of the Atlantic, these waters are full of big, hard-fighting fish. On this article, we break down what makes a Hatteras fishing expertise particular, from the species you possibly can goal to how, the place, and when to catch them.

What: High Fish Species in Hatteras

There are many species to select from round Hatteras Island. It’s within the path of each migratory fish on the Atlantic Coast, in spite of everything. Nonetheless, some species rise above the remaining to attain legendary standing right here. These are the fish that you just completely have to focus on when you’re on the town.

Purple Drum

For those who’re heading into Pamlico Sound, chances are high, you’re searching Drum. Purple Drum are a traditional inshore sport fish – large, powerful, and never afraid to nail your lures. Additionally they hand around in very shallow water, good for sight or fly fishing. You may catch Drum all yr spherical in Hatteras, however they’re finest in spring and fall.

Huge Redfish are a problem, smaller ones are scrumptious. It’s no shock that they’re the primary occasion inshore. For those who by some means get tired of battling Reds, you possibly can strive your luck in opposition to the Speckled Trout that have a tendency to hang around close by. It’s also possible to discover Flounder within the Sound. You gained’t be quick on motion.


You’ll discover one species on everyone’s thoughts in spring: Cobia. These brown bruisers come crashing into city every Might and stick round in power till the top of June. Whereas they’re right here, each angler in North Carolina desires a chunk of them. It’s simple to see why.

Cobia are well-known for his or her fearlessness. They’re extra prone to be intrigued than afraid when your boat approaches them. They’re additionally clever hunters, identified to cover within the shadows of Rays as they sneak up on their prey. As soon as hooked, Cobia battle with a cussed power which you can’t assist however admire. The cherry on high? They’re completely scrumptious.

King Mackerel

If Cobia are the celebs of spring, these guys are positively the kings of winter. King Mackerel begin to present up because the climate cools down. By November, they dominate Hatteras’s nearshore waters, the place they keep till the top of February. Wrestling Kingfish is the proper strategy to heat up on a cold winter morning.

Huge King Mackerel are identified regionally as “Smoker Kings.” The official purpose for that is how they’re eaten. King Mackerel have a wealthy, oily meat that’s good for smoking. Nonetheless, we have now one other concept of the place they bought their nickname: A 30 lb Kingfish can smoke your reel very quickly in case you’re not paying consideration.


Tuna are the center and soul of Hatteras’s deep sea fishing scene. Cities right here had been constructed on their Tuna fishery, and placing you on a monster is a matter of delight for native constitution captains. 4 species present up round Hatteras: Yellowfin, Blackfin, Bigeye, and the star of the present, Bluefin Tuna. You’re at all times in with an opportunity of a minimum of one in every of them.

The largest Bluefin are usually hooked in December and January, though additionally they have a run in spring. Blackfin are finest within the fall, whereas Yellowfin are wonderful in fall and spring. Your finest probability of touchdown a Bigeye is on the finish of summer time, though they’re a lot much less widespread than their fin-themed cousins.


What may probably outdo big Bluefin Tuna? Simple: large Marlin. Blue and White Marlin spend their summers searching within the heat currents offshore. They’re additionally joined by Sailfish, as a result of two Billfish isn’t fairly ok. To make issues much more thrilling, folks have been catching some actual record-breakers in recent times.

In 2015, a Hatteras angler smashed the North Carolina file with a 138 lb White Marlin. In 2019, one fortunate crew reeled in a 914 lb Blue Marlin through the Huge Rock Blue Marlin Event. It gained them the event, nevertheless it didn’t come near the state file – a 1,228-pounder caught in 2008. The Outer Banks actually put the “large” in large sport fishing.

How: Kinds of Fishing in Hatteras

There are a number of how to work these waters. Most guests fish on a constitution or from shore, and even they arrive with a number of choices. It’s also possible to take to the water on a kayak or a paddleboard if you would like one thing in between. Right here’s a abstract of what to anticipate from every type of angling.

Constitution Fishing

Constitution fishing is understandably in style in Hatteras. You want boat and high-end gear to face an opportunity in opposition to the likes of Marlin and Tuna. Shallow shoals make the sound unimaginable to navigate in case you don’t know the world properly. Letting a talented native information you saves numerous time, effort, and frustration. It’s additionally the most suitable choice in case you’re chasing trophies.

Hatteras constitution captains spend their lives exploring these seas. They know productive spots for each species, and the right way to attain them safely. These are expert guides who take delight in exhibiting off the most effective their waters have to supply. And right here’s the kicker: chartering a ship prices about the identical as renting one once you think about gas, bait, and gear.

Celebration Boat Fishing

Celebration boats are technically a sort of constitution, however they’re a really totally different expertise. If you get on board, you’ll be given a rod, some bait, and an area on deck. The crew will do rounds, untangling strains and rigging baits. However with so many anglers on board, you gained’t have their full consideration such as you would on a non-public constitution. 

Head boats are usually too large to fish the shallow sounds round Hatteras they usually hardly ever go after deep sea sport fish. As a substitute, they aim desk fare like Seabass, Sheepshead, Amberjack, and Grouper. If you wish to catch fish on a funds, it is a great way to take action. Nonetheless, you gained’t be capable to goal most of Hatteras’s signature species.

Kayak Fishing

Kayaks are a easy strategy to discover the shallows of the Pamlico Sound. Simply launch out from the seaside and comb the grass beds for Redfish and Trout. Expert ‘yakers may even strive their luck in opposition to Kingfish and Cobia within the ocean. What’s extra, you possibly can lease each kayaks and paddleboards fairly cheaply.

There are just a few drawbacks to kayak fishing in Hatteras. These waters have robust currents that novices typically wrestle with. You’re additionally restricted on how a lot gear you possibly can carry – in addition to how a lot fish you possibly can deliver again. Kayaks are a productive various to fishing from shore, however they don’t examine to fishing on a ship.

Surf Fishing

There are many locations to fish from shore in Hatteras. The sound and the ocean each produce nice outcomes. Soundside, it’s shallow sufficient for wade fishing alongside many of the island. The ocean waters get deep shortly, making for a large mixture of species. And if you would like extra selection, you possibly can at all times head to a neighborhood fishing pier.

The primary targets whereas surf fishing in Hatteras are fish like Trout, Drum, and Croaker. On a pier, Cobia, Sheepshead, and Mackerel additionally come into play. You shouldn’t count on to catch a trophy. However in case you’re simply after a little bit downtime, this generally is a stress-free strategy to reel in one thing for dinner.

The place: Hatteras Fishing Spots

There are well-known spots for all the space’s high sport fish. Lots of them are simple to succeed in by yourself however you’ll want a stable boat and a few native know-how to get to others. Listed below are just a few native favorites to get you began.

  • Cape Level: One in all America’s finest surf fishing spots. The Level spears into the ocean proper the place the Labrador and Gulf Currents meet. The realm’s most well-known for its big Purple Drum. It additionally attracts Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel, Cobia, and Sharks.
  • Hatteras Inlet: Hatteras Inlet holds smaller fish than the Level however provides extra selection. Work deep holes close to the southern tip, wade into the sound, or solid into the rips the place large fish ambush prey. The Inlet’s finest at night time, when boat visitors’s lighter.
  • Hatteras Island Fishing Piers: There are two piers on Hatteras Island, one in Avon and one in Rodanthe. Each maintain a variety of species, from Drum, Trout, and Bluefish to King Mackerel and Cobia. Individuals have even caught Sailfish right here.
  • Pamlico Sound: Sure, it is a giant space. However actually, fish any grass close to channels or sloughs and also you’ll discover Drum. It’s also possible to catch Speckled Trout round factors and pilings. This can be a nice kayak spot, however shifting shoals make boating difficult.
  • Diamond Shoal Tower: An previous mild tower 13 miles off Cape Hatteras. Amberjack, Cobia, Barracuda, and rather more stay right here. Nonetheless, Diamond Shoal is named “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Navigating it’s best left to professionals.
  • The Rock Pile: A rocky ridge south of Cape Level in round 180 ft of water. This can be a traditional spot for Wahoo and Billfish, and may also be nice for Tuna. This can be a in style spot and may get busy, nevertheless it’s properly price visiting on the best way offshore.
  • Gulf Stream: You might want to go 30 miles or extra to succeed in the Gulf Stream however you’ll be rewarded. Blue and White Marlin, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Sailfish all hunt right here. It’s also possible to deep drop for Tilefish and Grouper.

When: Tournaments and Fishing Seasons

You will discover fish everytime you go to Hatteras and tournaments happen all year long. Nonetheless, there are some occasions you actually don’t need to miss and lots of species have seasonal closures. Working round these dates will allow you to get essentially the most out of your time on the town.

Hatteras Fishing Tournaments

There are three most important occasions within the native event calendar. The Hatteras Village Offshore Open kicks off in Might. The Hatteras Marlin Membership Blue Marlin Launch Event follows in June. In July, the season ends with the Hatteras Grand Slam Fishing Event. These are all high-stakes Billfish tournaments with some fierce competitors.

As summer time winds down, you begin to see extra shore-based occasions. You may be a part of the Hatteras Village Surf Fishing Invitational in September. Go to in November, and you may be one in every of lots of of anglers collaborating within the Cape Hatteras Anglers Membership’s Annual Invitational Fishing Event.

The loopy factor is that these are simply essentially the most well-known tournaments. There are a dozen smaller competitions held every year on Hatteras Island, and most close by cities even have their fair proportion. Likelihood is there’s one which you can be a part of someplace alongside the island chain.

Hatteras Fishing Seasons

The primary group to observe in the case of closed seasons are backside fish. Most Grouper species are closed for harvest from January 1 via April 30. Snowy Grouper and Blueline Tilefish can solely be stored Might 1 via August 31, whereas Wreckfish are open July 1 via August 31. 

Two extra species to pay attention to are Cobia and Flounder. Cobia season opens from Might 1 till the top of the yr. Flounder fishing is closed totally to stop overfishing. These guidelines change often based mostly on new information and even freak climate occasions. At all times examine the Division of Environmental High quality’s present proclamations to get essentially the most up-to-date information.

Aside from laws, it’s price noting that many constitution corporations in Hatteras shut up store within the winter. They spend the chilly months fishing commercially as a substitute. For those who’re getting into wintertime, it is perhaps price reserving a constitution forward of time in case those nonetheless operating promote out.

Why Hatteras? As a result of There’s Nowhere Else Like It

Life in Hatteras is all about fishing. The ocean is the primary supply of revenue and leisure on this distant barrier island. Greater than that, it’s a key a part of native tradition. This makes Hatteras the proper place to flee the hustle and bustle of contemporary dwelling. To get again to the essential issues in life: A rod in your hand, salt within the air, and an enormous fish on the top of your line.

Have you ever tried fishing in Hatteras? Ever taken half in a event right here? Inform us your tales or drop us a query within the feedback beneath. We might love to listen to from you!

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