Surf Fishing In The Outer Banks: Tips To Catch More Fish

Photo credit: Smoovey via Flickr

Looking for Outer Banks surf fishing tips? The Outer Banks, or OBX, is a two-hundred-mile-long string of islands on the US east coast, spitting off the North Carolina Coast and southeastern Virginia. They cover most of the coastline of North Carolina, separating Pamlico Sound, Albemarle Sound, and Currituck Sound from the Atlantic Ocean.

As we welcome many guests each year, the Outer Banks is known worldwide for the expanded, open beachfront to the warm and inviting climate. Off the Outer Banks, there are vast seas and many different shipwrecks that occurred, giving the seas in this area the nickname Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Our top Outer Banks surf fishing tips to catch big fish:

  • Use a longer rod (10 foot – 12 foot) to cast longer into the surf.
  • The fresher the bait, the better the success rate
  • It takes time to see results – but don’t be afraid to move
  • Vary your fishing with the tides – try low tide and high tide for best results
  • Be aware of those around you on the beach & cast safely
  • Have fun!

A unique beach community

Along the chain of skinny barrier islands, each beach community is distinct from the rest. Each one has a long list of unique perks and its own enticing atmosphere. From desolate shorelines with no one around to the most popular spots dotted with lifeguard stations, it isn’t hard to find the perfect beach for a fishing trip.

Many of our guests from Hatteras Island, Nags Head or Kill Devil hills enjoy pier fishing and surf fishing just a short walk from the door of their oceanfront condo rental!

There is the ready availability of undeveloped and unpopulated beaches for every purist beach bum. In fact, there is no better place in the world to walk barefoot, settle for a long day of shore fishing as you listen to the endless lull of ocean waves than the beautiful Outer Banks.

With that in mind, check out our tips for a successful Outer Banks surf fishing trip below.

The Best Times To Produce A Catch?

When it comes to Outer Banks surf fishing, there is nothing quite like casting outright from the shore and reeling in a big catch. Though well love a good fishing pier, every fisherman loves the feel of a rod and reel in hand as they head out to the shore. Around these parts and particularly on Hatteras Island, the Fall is when surf fishing season really heats up. This is something all anglers in the area attest to, particularly in the October peak weeks when finger mullet run along the coastline and the return of the fattened red drum never fails. You will even see an occasional sheepshead along with schools of black drum, croakers, spots, redfish, sea mullets, puppy drum, striped bass and flounder. Throughout the season, these are some of the fish found along the surf.

Anglers have success during the early Spring as the water warms up as well as during the summertime in the surf. Better times of day to target surf fish include morning daybreak to mid-morning as well as evenings as the sun goes down (targeting sharks or dogfish).

The Seasons To Fish

In the months of summer, you can expect tasty Spanish Mackerels, Pompano, Red Drum and rarely Cobias. These can be found off the remarkable beaches on the East Coast the entire length of summer, particularly along inlets and points in the late evening and early morning. You may want to rent or bring a big fishing rod throughout the duration of the trip to these parts. The reason for a big rod is that some species of fish, particularly the coveted Cobias and red drums can weigh between 20 and 50 pounds.

A License To Fish Is Required!

Before you get that line cast, the first thing you need to do when going Outer Banks surf fishing is to get a North Carolina Recreational Fishing License. All you need to do in order to obtain this is to go to any tackle shop in the Outer Banks while you are in the area or visit the website of the Division of Marine Fisheries and buy a license online. If you only plan to be in the state once each year, it may be better to buy a Coastal Recreational Fishing 10-Day License for $10 (accurate as of June 2020).

Taking The Right Bait For Success

Photo credit: Michael Meiters via Flickr

You can catch more fish in the Outer Banks surf when you buy the right bait. You can buy everything from blood worms to squid from any tackle shop. You can also DIY and catch small mullets and fishing bait on your own. There are small live baitfish in the saltwater canals for small fish you can use for live bait. Put the kids to work on the shore side to dig for sand fleas or crabs. These are pink crabs or small beige crabs found by the ocean in the wet sand. These are not edible but do make great bait for fish.

It is nothing short of exceptional to fish on the shore in the beaches starting from Kitty Hawk all the way to Hatteras Island. Cape Hatteras alone is a seventy-mile shoreline with migrating species from all over the world that brush along the coast.

Once you do land extra-large catch, stop by a weight station in a tackle shop and see if your catch has eligibility for a North Carolina Fishing Citation. Recreational anglers can take part in a yearly open tournament sponsored by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. Shore fishermen who release or land certain species of saltwater fish in a minimum size on the coastal waters of North Carolina are eligible for a certificate of citation commending their extraordinary catch.

Check out this video highlighting the inshore fishing in the Outer Banks

Taking A Class To Hone Your Skills

Those that have never gone surf fishing in the Outer Banks might want to take advantage of the many options for instructions and classes. Check out classes at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head to learn more about this fun and exciting sport!

There are several local tackle shops that can supply you with any of your fishing needs as well as tips on their favorite fishing spots. Outer Banks fishing is truly something you have to experience, whether you are trying to catch for food or fun, you won’t be let down. If you are interested in just showing up, make sure to check out the local fishing charters, they will have everything prepared for you upon your arrival. Saltwater fishing offers so many perks, and when you are ready to relax and take a break, you can plop down on the beach and work on your suntan.