Outer Banks Fishing: The Complete Guide

Studying Time: 9 minutes

North Carolina’s Outer Banks are a reasonably distinctive place. Sitting miles out into the ocean, surrounded by sounds and sea, life right here revolves across the ebb and circulation of the tide. These barrier islands produce among the world’s best sportfishing boats, with skilled crews to match. No shock, then, that Outer Banks fishing is spectacular.

What are you able to catch across the Outer Banks? How do you have to fish, and the place’s the most effective place to take action? We’ll cowl all this and extra in a full rundown of the native angling scene. Whether or not you’re a first-timer or a seasoned seadog, prepare to move out and catch the fish of a lifetime.

Outer Banks Fish Species

OBX anglers get pleasure from the most effective of each worlds. Head a technique, and you discover shallow waters filled with inshore predators. Flip the opposite for heat ocean currents and massive sport monsters. Briefly, you’re surrounded by each sport fish’s dream searching grounds. Listed below are just a few of the species you possibly can goal.

Pink Drum

Redfish dominate the shallows within the Outer Banks. They cruise the seashores and sounds, on the lookout for meals or a struggle. They’re the dream inshore sportfish – large, robust, and aggressive. Native anglers normally take them on reside bait, however they’ll go after most lures and even flies in case you current them proper.

Did we point out that Redfish are additionally scrumptious? Smaller “Pet Drum” produce candy, flaky meat that’s nice nonetheless you prepare dinner it. Greater “Bull Pink” nonetheless style good, however these are the breeder fish and we advocate releasing them in case you can – they greater than deserve it after the struggle they put up.


You’ll be able to’t point out seafood with out tipping your hat to everyone’s favourite Flatfish. Flounder aren’t precisely fairly (their faces are the stuff of nightmares) however don’t let that put you off. All fish seems good as soon as it’s filleted, and you’ll’t beat the style of freshly-caught Flounder.

Flounder are meals fish, however they’ll nonetheless be a hoot to catch. They’ll observe your lure and demolish any small bait that swims too shut. And that’s simply the rod and reel motion. Bowfishing and gigging (spearing fish hiding within the mud) are each well-liked right here.


Each spring, Cobia make the native wrecks their house and begin throwing their weight at something that will get of their approach – anglers included. Cobia are naturally curious fish and locals feed this curiosity by chumming the water. You simply rock up, drop your block, and fairly quickly you’ll have a fish in your line.

Cobia are the springtime favourite, however what in case you’re round within the fall? Easy: head to the identical spots to tackle King Mackerel as an alternative. “Smoker Kings” weighing 30 kilos or extra come crashing by way of city every autumn. You’ll normally take these guys with massive reside baits like Menhaden.


There are lots of stars within the native lineup, however none of them evaluate to Bluefin Tuna. OBX is a real Bluefin battleground, the place native anglers earn their stripes by reeling in fish a number of instances their physique weight. Through the years, they’ve developed a signature hands-on strategy to catching these underwater freight trains.

Bluefin aren’t the one Tuna species round, thoughts you. Bigeye, Blackfin, and Yellowfin Tuna all present up in these waters. The 4 species work in shifts to ensure there’s at all times one thing large and attractive to focus on. You thought Depraved Tuna was thrilling? Simply wait till you see the actual factor!

And Extra!

What may presumably trump 500 lb Bluefin? Actually, not a lot, however Blue and White Marlin are very happy to strive. You can too battle Mahi Mahi and Wahoo on offshore journeys or search the surf for Striped Bass and Bluefish. Then there’s the underside chew of Amberjack, Tilefish, Grouper, and Sea Bass. Did we point out Shark fishing? Significantly, it’s infinite!

The way to Fish in OBX

You have got an thought of what to focus on, however how do you have to do it? Right here’s a abstract of the primary kinds of fishing within the Outer Banks, and the professionals and cons of every one.

Surf Fishing

In the event you’re into surf fishing, likelihood is the Outer Banks are already in your bucket checklist. Folks have landed unbelievable catches within the surf right here, from world report Pink Drum to very large Sharks, Stripers, Bluefish, and extra. The added bonus is that you could get pleasure from a seashore day with the household with out lacking out on the realm’s angling.

There are some things to keep in mind when surf fishing in OBX. Many areas are so distant that you simply want a 4X4 to get to them. The perfect spots are typically closed to guard native wildlife. It’s finest to cease in at an area deal with store if you arrive to get probably the most up-to-date information on what’s biting and the place.

Constitution Fishing

If you wish to catch fish, go together with somebody who is aware of the realm. It might be an area buddy, however for most individuals it’s a information. OBX constitution guides know each ounce of those waters. They’ve a sport plan for each spot and species. Whether or not you’re after household enjoyable or severe sportfishing, you possibly can’t go unsuitable.

There are some very sensible causes to fish with a constitution. For starters, they’ll present every part you want for the day. That is additionally the one approach to get offshore in case you don’t personal a ship. Even in case you do, spending just a few hours with an area will prevent days of trial and error. It’s the easiest way to actually be taught concerning the space.

Pier Fishing

Fishing piers are an excellent place to catch fish, plain and easy. They don’t have that very same outdoorsy really feel as surf fishing. You gained’t get the flexibleness or motion of a fishing constitution. What one can find is loads of fish and all of the gear it’s good to deliver them in is obtainable for hire or sale.

Relying on how far down the pier you go, you’ll find something from Redfish and Sheepshead to Kingfish and Cobia. There are half a dozen fishing piers alongside the Outer Banks. They’re all good, so head to whichever one is closest and seize your self some dinner!

Head Boat Fishing

Head boats are massive vessels that you simply share with different anglers. Consider them as someplace between a constitution and a pier. They’re an inexpensive approach to get onto the water and reel in some fish for dinner. You can too meet different anglers and make new mates alongside the best way. 

The draw back to move boats is that they’re not that beginner-friendly. The crew can solely spend a lot time with every particular person, so be ready to untangle your personal traces. Eager anglers may additionally get pissed off with the shortage of motion. You’ll both take turns fishing or get a selected spot on the boat, neither of that are nice for chasing trophies.

Kayak Fishing

Kayak fishing has been steadily rising in recognition over time, and it’s straightforward to see why. You don’t must trailer your boat or pay a information. You’re not caught on the shore, preventing for casting house among the many crowd. As a substitute, you simply waltz right down to the seashore, push off, and revel in a day at sea.

Okay, there’s somewhat extra to it than that. Kayak fishing is significantly exhausting work, particularly if the water’s uneven. Really recognizing the fish could be robust, which solely provides to the problem of exploring a brand new fishery. Preventing a fish sitting down isn’t straightforward, both. Briefly, it’s good to be robust and affected person to get probably the most out of it.

The place to Fish in OBX

We gained’t cowl each honey gap on the market. The Outer Banks is a big space, and the most effective spots change with the wind (typically actually). As a substitute, listed below are just a few dependable fishing spots to get you began. After that, your finest guess is to native anglers or leap on a fishing constitution.

  • Cape Level: The tip of Hatteras Island and the elbow of the Banks. That is the place the Labrador and Gulf Currents meet, drawing in vitamins and trophy-sized fish. Unsurprisingly, it’s a mecca for surf anglers.
  • Oregon Inlet: One other superior surf fishing spot and the gateway for offshore charters out of Wanchese and Nags Head. You might want to drive to the northern seashore however you possibly can park fairly near the southern one.
  • Outer Banks Fishing Pier: A 600’ pier simply south of Nags Head. The pier is open 24/7 and also you don’t want a license to fish from it. If it’s too busy, there are a number of fishing piers within the space, all of that are advantageous.
  • Pamlico Sound: Spend the day sound fishing in OBX and you possibly can come throughout Drum, Flounder, Trout, Stripers, and extra. It’s an excellent possibility when you’ve got a kayak, and is a well-liked selection on shorter constitution journeys. 
  • Rock Pile: A patch of rocky construction south of Hatteras in round 180 toes of water. Billfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna all present up right here, making it a worthwhile cease on the journey offshore. It could possibly get busy, although.
  • Gulf Stream: The be all and finish all for deep sea fans. The Gulf Stream is 30 miles offshore or extra, relying on the place you begin. Make the journey for enormous Tuna, monster Marlin, Swordfish, Wahoo, and extra.

When to Fish in OBX

Most fish are seasonal guests within the Outer Banks, so timing your journey is essential when you’ve got a selected species in thoughts. Plan issues proper, and you’ll even participate in one of many space’s many fishing tournaments whilst you’re right here.

Outer Banks Fishing Seasons

The perfect time to surf fish within the Outer Banks is spring and fall. That is when the largest Pink Drum, Bluefish, and Speckled Trout present up. Summer season gained’t produce as many trophy Reds, however there will probably be Tarpon and Sharks alongside them. Courageous the winter climate, and Striped Bass will preserve you heat.

Extra considering Bluefin Tuna season? We are able to’t blame you! Bluefin could be caught all winter and effectively into spring in OBX. The chew’s finest at first and finish of the season. Early season Tuna (November–December) transfer nearer to shore, whereas late season (February–March) produces these legendary large Bluefin.

In the event you’re on the lookout for information on a selected species, take a look at our OBX fishing calendar for a full run-down of when to fish and browse the Division of Marine Fisheries newest proclamations for the up-to-date rules. Keep in mind that many constitution providers shut over the winter, so it’s price reserving forward of time in case you’re visiting within the low season.

Fishing Tournaments in OBX

Match season kicks off in Might with the Hatteras Village Offshore Open. In June, it’s both again to Hatteras for the Blue Marlin Launch Match or right down to Morehead Metropolis for the Huge Rock Blue Marlin Match. Spherical off the season in August with the Pirate’s Cove Billfish Match out of Manteo. 

These had been simply the offshore occasions. You’ve additionally received kayak fishing tournaments out of Nags Head in June and September, the Manteo Rotary Inshore Slam in October, and occasions organized by native surf fishing golf equipment all 12 months. Everytime you go to, there’s one thing occurring.

The Outer Banks, NC: A True Angler’s Paradise

There actually is nowhere just like the Outer Banks. Head offshore and you’ll battle 500 lb Bluefin Tuna and Blue Marlin. Keep within the sounds to chase large Pink Drum, tasty Flounder, Tarpon, and extra. Throw in a robust fishing heritage and a few gorgeous surroundings, and also you simply discovered the right fishery.

Planning an Outer Banks fishing journey? What do you need to catch, and the way are you going to do it? Inform us your plans or share your experiences within the feedback beneath. We love to listen to from you!

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