Fishing on Ocracoke – for the Non-Fisherman
Some come to Ocracoke (and the Outer Banks), specifically to fish….that is not me.
Ocracoke is a hub for multiple different types of fishing. In the inlet people can have the experience of off-shore fishing on a charter boat, on the beach they can surf fish, and on the sound and in marshy areas people can fly fish. The goal for all three is very simple: to catch fish; but each requires its own skill set.
I, personally, do not consider myself a fisher-person.
When there’s a reel and rod near me I’ll cast a couple of lines, but by no means am I an expert, and by no means am I going to take the fish off of the hook.
That being said, this past winter I got to witness and be part of something unique to Ocracoke, a drum run! A drum run occurs when herds of red or black drum (we are talking hundreds) are gathered in the same spot to feed and are competing for that food. Our friend Ed from Kitty Hawk was visiting and he said that a drum run is a fishers dream…
….and I just so happened to be there.
With my hip waders on and a borrowed rod I got out there in the Atlantic Ocean and cast my reel as far as I could. Within 5 minutes I caught one. The experienced anglers were running out of the water to take their fish off the hook, and then running back in the ocean to try and catch another one. Some of them caught upwards of 6 drum in a span of 45 minutes.
As for me….I took my time saying thank you to the fish I caught and slowly put it back in the water. I continued to fish hoping maybe to catch another one, but mostly I was just happy to have caught my one. More importantly, I was happy to be part of that experience. The energy of everyone running out of the water, the excitement of people catching multiple fish and trying to catch more, it was truly unique. In the end we were greeted by a full moon, and the next day I was greeted with a sore arm.
Fishing on Ocracoke is not usually this easy and I might have also had a case of beginner’s luck, oftentimes it requires patience, and sometimes you may not catch anything at all. My recommendation is to not be scared off. Anyone can fish, and Ocracoke is the best place to try it out.
What to know about fishing on Ocracoke:
Anyone who would like to fish on Ocracoke needs to obtain a fishing license. Stop by Tradewinds Tackle shop and they will set you up with a fishing license and everything else you may need. You will need a rod, some bait, pliers, a rag, and whatever else you think will give you an edge. Again, all of this can be purchased at Tradewinds, or if you’re like me, you can find a friend who will let you borrow their rod, and who may be nice enough to bait the hook for you as well.
For Offshore Fishing they will provide the rods for you and will take you out in deep water. Note: this is not for those who get seasick or motion sick easily. They will use the trolling method, which is when they drag the line and bait behind the boat in the hopes of something taking a bite. Check out Fish Ocracoke, Capn’ B Sportfishing, Dream Girl Fishing, and Tarheel Sportfishing.
For Surf Fishing you will need your own rod, and will head out to the beach. Additionally, you will need to obtain a NPS permit and should have a 4 wheel drive vehicle if you plan on driving on the beach. Otherwise you can park at one of the parking lots and walk to your spot. When surf-fishing be mindful of people swimming and surfing in the ocean, and try to cast as far away from them as possible. You will want to throw your bait as far out as possible, usually past where the waves are breaking and hope to catch something roughly the size of your forearm. I’m a catch and release kind of girl, but if you intend on keeping your fish be aware that there are restrictions.
For Fly Fishing or Inshore Fishing, going somewhere with less wind is always best. You will want to be on the sound side of the island and sometimes the marshy locations can be to your advantage. Here, cast as far as you would like, and use your bait to simulate something the fish want to go after (i.e. shrimp). You will again need your own rod, but can fish from a dock, a motorized boat, a kayak, or from land. People can often be seen fishing at the docks near the NPS boat ramp at 38 Irvin Garrish Hwy as well as from their rental cottages or hotels, or sometimes as Springer’s Point. For motorized boat rentals check out Restless Native Boat Rentals, and for kayak rentals check out Ride the Wind Surf Shop. For guided in shore fishing check out Fish Camp Charters and South Wind Charters