Outer Banks Fish

What Is Running and When

You have your gear and your license, so what Outer Banks fish might you catch? Below you will find a description of some of the fish and what month you are most likely to come across them.

Bluefish

© Diane Rome Peebles
Bluefish
Bluefish are considered some of the most aggressive fish, and anglers should be careful when handling them because of their razor sharp teeth. These fish fall into three categories: snapper blues, which weigh less than a pound, tailor blues that weigh between one and three pounds, and, the class favorite, the big blues, that can weigh anywhere from eight to twenty pounds. Blues start to show in April and May.


Cobia

© Diane Rome Peebles
Cobia
Cobia weigh between 30 and 40 pounds, with some extending up to 60 pounds. These Outer Banks fish are around during the summer months.


Croaker

© Diane Rome Peebles
Croaker
The croaker, which is also available the entire season, is also known as the hardhead. They are generally between 0.5 and 1.5 pounds. Croakers are a schooling fish. They usually start appearing in the Spring for OBX fishing.


Flounder

© Diane Rome Peebles
Flounder
The best time to catch founders is in October and November. They are amongst the most prized catches. Flounders usually weigh between 1 and 3 pounds. The flounder will usually bury itself on the bottom, awaiting its prey.


Gray Trout

© Diane Rome Peebles
Gray Trout
The gray trout, also known as the weak fish, can be found all year round. Generally, they weigh between 1 and 3 pounds. Boat fishing is most likely to yield a catch of this fish.


King Mackerel

© Diane Rome Peebles
King Mackerel
King mackerel hit peak season between late September and October, but are primarily caught by offshore fishermen. They weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, with some as large as 40 pounds.


Pompano

© Diane Rome Peebles
Pompano
The Pompano usually appears in late summer and weighs between 1 and 2.5 pounds. Pompano are usually found near the shore. The ideal situation to catch pompano is for the water to be warm and clear.


Red Drum

© Diane Rome Peebles
Red Drum
Red drum are usually spotted along the shore in April and May. Catching a red drum is a big thrill because the adult can weigh anywhere from 30 to 60 pounds, while a puppy drum can weigh in at ten pounds or less. Red drum are most plentiful between Ocracoke Island and Oregon Inlet.


Sea Mullet/Kingfish

© Diane Rome Peebles
Sea Mullet or Kingfish
The sea mullet is also known as the kingfish or whiting. Both the northern and southern kingfish are present in the waters off of the Outer Banks. This is a great fish to catch either Outer Banks surf fishing or from an Outer Banks fishing pier. They usually weigh between 0.75 and 1.5 pounds. They start appearing in the Spring and run the entire season.


Spanish Mackerel

© Diane Rome Peebles
Spanish Mackerel
The Spanish mackerel usually appear from June to October. They are a schooling fish, and usually weigh about 2 pounds. They are most likely to be caught in clear water, and they love minnows.


Speckled Trout

© Diane Rome Peebles
Speckled Trout
These Outer Banks fish, also known as the spotted weakfish or spotted trout, are best caught in October. They generally weigh between 1 and 2 pounds, and are considered amongst the best tasting of the fish to be caught. Boat fishing again is most likely to yield a catch of this fish.


Spot

© Diane Rome Peebles
Spot
This Outer Banks fish is available the entire season, but the best time is late summer and early fall. It is one of the most popular fish to be caught and eaten. It is usually between six and ten inches long. This is a schooling fish and is a good pier fishing target.


Striped Bass

© Diane Rome Peebles
Striped Bass
Stripe bass are another local favorite. They usually start to show when the water starts to cool, usually in late fall and through the winter. It is an excellent eating fish, with an eighteen inch fish weighing about four pounds, and an eight year old striped bass weighing about 15 pounds and being 32 inches long.


What you should expect to catch by month:

January: bluefin tuna, bluefish, sea bass, striped bass, trout

February: bluefin tuna, bluefish, sea bass, striped bass, trout

March: bluefin tuna, bluefish, grouper, sea bass, snapper, striped bass, sea trout, yellowfin tuna

April: bluefish, croaker, king mackerel, grouper, red drum, snapper, striped bass, sea mullet, sea trout, Wahoo

May: bluefish, blue marlin, cobia, croaker, dolphin, grouper, king mackerel, red drum, Spanish mackerel, snapper, spot, striped bass, sea mullet, tuna, Wahoo

June: bluefish, blue marlin, cobia, croaker, dolphin, flounder, grouper, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, snapper, spot, tuna, Wahoo, white marlin

July: bluefish, blue marlin, croaker, dolphin, flounder, grouper, sailfish, sea mullet, Spanish mackerel, snapper, spot, Wahoo, white marlin

August: bluefish, blue marlin, croaker, dolphin, flounder, grouper, sailfish, Spanish mackerel, snapper, speckled trout, spot, tuna, Wahoo, white marlin

September: bluefish, blue marlin, grouper, king mackerel, red drum, sailfish, sea mullet, Spanish mackerel, snapper, speckled trout, spot, striped bass, tuna, white marlin

October: bluefish, flounder, grouper, king mackerel, red drum, snapper, speckled trout, spot, striped bass, tuna

November: bluefish, flounder, grouper, king mackerel, sea mullet, snapper, speckled trout, striped bass, tuna

December: bluefish, flounder, grouper, seabass, sea trout, snapper, speckled trout, striped bass, tuna

To get a full report on which fish are running, go back to the Outer Banks fishing page and scroll down to the fishing reports.


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