Outer Banks inshore fishing is focused on the inlets, sounds, lakes, rivers and some close range ocean fishing. Generally, the trips are booked for half days, but there are some boats that will book a full day trip to take you a little further out. Headboat fishing will also take you out to the intermediate waters. These boats are so called "headboats" because you are on the boat with 40 to 50 other fisherman, all who "paid by the head". The boats provide an experience crew as well as bait, equipment, tackle and restrooms.
Outer Banks inshore fishing targets bluefish, cobia, croaker, flounder, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, trout, and red drum. Spanish mackerel are the heart of the OBX fishing, as they arrive anywhere from April to May (going south to north) and continue biting until the end of October.
Flounder are plentiful both in the Oregon and Hatteras Inlets. In addition to flounder, striped bass, also called stripers or rockfish, are plentiful, particularly around bridge pilings. The striped bass have their young inland and the young stay in the local rivers until they are old enough to join the Atlantic migration. Striped bass are a regulated species, so check with the local bait shop to see what is currently permissible in the sound fishing waters.
Another fish that is available, primarily in the summer, is the speckled trout. You will find this fish in the waters between Ocracoke and Manteo. The speckled trout must be at least 12 inches long to keep.
When booking Outer Banks inshore fishing charters, you should book at least a month in advance. Headboat fishing will be less expensive than the private Outer Banks charter fishing boats. You should bring food, drink and sunscreen. Some boats do provide food, so you may want to check with the boat. Be prepared to spend the entire time on the boat. Seasickness is not a reason for the boat to be returned to port. The Outer Banks inshore fishing trips may be more suitable for families with small children as these are generally shorter trips (half day versus full day).
If you hear someone refer to "backwater fishing", this is generally the more protected (from weather) inland lakes, rivers and sounds. The water is generally either freshwater or brackish. The catch here will include striped bass, largemouth bass, drum, crappies, flounder, perch, croaker, spot, trout and catfish.
If you should be fishing the Alligator River or South and East Lakes, don't be surprised to see alligators, bear and deer on land.
A more recent phenomenon in Outer Banks fishing has been the advent of fly fishing in the 1960’s and 70’s. The sport took off in 1979 when Chico Fernandez caught a white marlin while fly fishing and in 1981 when he set a world fly fishing record catching a 42 pound 5 ounce red drum. Since then, fly fishing has come into its own on the Outer Banks.
If you are ready to go, how about your gear? Check out the latest eBay auctions to get what you might be missing.