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Top Fishing Charters in Hatteras

Fishing in Hatteras

Hatteras Fishing Charters maintain a legendary reputation among offshore anglers – and for much more than just the boat brand. The town offers unparalleled access to the deepest waters of the Atlantic Ocean. You can hit the gulf stream in under 20 miles at certain times of year and can be fishing 5,000 feet above the ocean floor within 50 miles of shore. It’s no wonder Hatteras Island is often referred to as “the Blue Marlin Capital of the World.”

Known For

Hatteras fishing has something to offer in every month of the year. There is a permanent population of several top inshore species, with Red and Black Drum, Bluefish, and Trout found in large numbers even in the depths of winter. As if this wasn’t enough, these resident fisheries are bolstered in the summer by huge migrations of Tarpon and Spanish Mackerel.
But it was not inshore fishing which made Hatteras a household name. Hatteras has been ranked by both Marlin Magazine and Saltwater Sportsman as one of the top billfishing destinations in the world. Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, and Swordfish can all be caught here, not to mention various species of Tuna ranging from Blackfin to Bluefin, and other big game favorites like Mahi Mahi and Wahoo. 

When should I go?

A host of big game species tag each other out as the year rolls on, making choosing when to go slightly less important but much more difficult. Time your charter right and you could catch a half dozen different big game pelagics in a single day. You will need to plan your trip carefully if there is a specific species you are after, though.


The spring and summer months are a never-ending stream of awesome offshore fishing. The season kicks off with the Yellowfin Tuna migration in March, running neatly up until the first big Blue Marlin show up in June. By July, you have both Blue and White Marlin, as well as Sailfish, Bigeye Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Wahoo. No wonder this is peak tournament season. Events like the Hatteras Marlin Club Blue Marlin Release Tournament have been running for nearly 60 years, and draw in top anglers from around the globe. The best Blue Marlin move on after a couple of months, but the rest of these species can be caught well into the second half of September.


By October, the biggest billfish bite has moved on. This is replaced by the wonderful madness of the late season  “Smoker Kings” Mackerel migration. Thousands of these fish, as heavy as 50 pounds, come hurtling past Hatteras in the fall. Local anglers get very excited this time of year, and have got the techniques for catching big Kingfish down to a finely-tuned art form.
During the winter, there's one species that dominates the Hatteras deep sea fishing scene. Anglers come from across the country to battle against these hot-blooded beasts and the Outer Banks are one of the best places in the world to do so. We’re talking, of course, about Bluefin Tuna. Arguably the tastiest fish in the sea, Bluefin are the ultimate bucket list species for many a seasoned sportfisher. The winter months of December and January are the best for Hatteras Tuna fishing, but you can find Bluefin here from late October through the beginning of March if you’re lucky.
Unsurprisingly, a revolving-door migration of many of the world’s favorite deep-water delicacies brings with it a large, almost permanent population of super-sized Sharks. 500-pound Makos erupt from the water and huge Hammerheads patrol the deep, and promise awesome angling if you aren’t too busy worrying that they’ll take a bite of your Tuna mid-battle.

How long will I need?

Hatteras charter captains don’t mess about when it come to trip times. The best fish are often found many miles away, even in the most outlying reaches of the Outer Banks. Because of this, half day trips normally last 5 hours, and a “full day” can mean 10 hours or more, depending on who you ask. If you want to target the area’s great inshore species, a half day trip will usually be more than enough to bag some big bull Reds and trophy-sized Trout, or take on the seasonal visitors like Cobia and Tarpon. 
For a lot of local guides, anything this side of the Gulf Stream is described as “nearshore” (a sign of how serious they are about blue water fishing). To hit these warm currents with enough time to fish you will need at eight hours on even the fastest boat in town. Normally, Hatteras gulf stream trips start at the 10-hour mark, and 12-hour or even overnight charters are very common, heading to the outer edges of the Gulf Stream, way past the continental shelf. 

How much will it cost?

Hatteras boasts one of the most impressive fishing fleets you are ever likely to see. This should come as no surprise for a town of famous boat-builders and legendary charter captains. Even the smallest boats in town are capable of going offshore, and luxury cruisers well over 50’ long are a common sight.
Prices, then, depend entirely on what you’re after. An entry-level half day will cost you around $500, and can be as much as $800 for the bigger boats. 10-hour Gulf Stream Trips cost somewhere in the $1250 range for a decent-sized sportfisher, and can cost half as much again for a fully-fledged cruiser. You get some serious bang for your buck on these bigger boats, though, and if you are planning on booking a liveaboard trip, an extra few hundred dollars for complete luxury suddenly seems a lot more reasonable after several hours of body-breaking big game battles.

Types of fishing

The most important fishery in the Outer Banks has to be Bluefin. Hatteras Bluefin Tuna charters stick to some basic ground rules, built from the experience of thousands of hours on the water. You will usually find a mix of weights trolled simultaneously, ranging from 80 to 130-pound test. Wide reels and heavy monofilament offer more reliable fishing, which is vitally important when battles can last several hours. Ballyhoo is the bait of choice for blue water trolling, often headed with Sea Witches or Ilanders to make even more of a spectacle in the water.
The other fishery of special importance to local anglers is big “Smoker” King Mackerel. These are targeted with live Menhaden and medium-heavy tackle – seven-foot conventional or spinning rods rigged with either mono or braided line somewhere in the 12 to 30-pound range. The most important part is to get your leader right. Five feet or so of 50-pound fluorocarbon with two or three feet of slightly heavier braided wire attached at the end to fend off their sharp, toothy bite.

Rules and regulations

You will need a license for anyone aged 16 and up when fishing in North Carolina. Most Hatteras fishing charters have blanket licenses which cover everyone on board. This is not always the case, especially on smaller boats, but 10-day licenses only cost $10 for non-residents, so it’s hardly the end of the world if you need to buy one.
Based on 14228 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Hatteras Fishing Seasons

The year kicks off in a frenzy of screaming drag, with monster Bluefin Tuna putting even the world's best anglers to the limit. This is the toughest, most high-reward fishing experience in the world. Interested?

The Outer Banks Tuna season is still going strong offshore. If you fancy something calmer, take to the inshore waters for a year-round population of many great table and game fish.

Yellowfin start rolling into town as the Bluefin begin to move on. They may not taste quite as good but they still put up some serious fight and make for great sashimi at the end of the day.

The first few Mahi Mahi appear in April, joined by Wahoo, and a ton of huge Yellowtail. Inshore, you have Red and Black Drum, Trout, Bluefish, and Spanish Mackerel. Take your pick, the fish are everywhere!

Yellowtail Tuna hit their peak in May, and are slowly joined by a host of different billfish towards the end of the month. This is a great chance to fish the Outer Banks before the summer crowds roll in.

The Blue Marlin Capital of the World begins to earn its name in June, with huge Blues turning up offshore, joined by Sailfish, White Marlin, and a host of other big game pelagic species.

July is peak tournament season, with the Hatteras Grand Slam Billfish Tournament and the Hatteras Marlin Club Blue Marlin Release Tournament June drawing in the biggest names in the industry.

The tournament crowds may move on in August, but the fish certainly don't! Big Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna all swarm the deep, just waiting to be caught.

Hatteras offshore fishing in September is still great for Billfish, especially White Marlin, who stick around well into the start of fall. You will also find plenty of Blackfin Tuna and a year-round inshore fishery.

Huge "Smoker Kings" draw the most attention in October and November. If you fancy casting your bait into a sea of ravenous King Mackerel, this is the time to visit.

The King Mackerel are still biting anything you throw their way, and you will have no trouble pulling in your limit. The first big Bluefin are starting to show up offshore, spiking adrenaline all over town.

Is an 800-pound Bluefin Tuna all you want for Christmas? We can't blame you! Climb aboard and head out to the deepest edge of the continental shelf for your chance of bagging one of these colossal brutes.

Hatteras Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Hatteras

"Great day on the water 😁"

Lisa W. fished with Seas The Day NC on August 8, 2019

Ask around for the best spots and bait. Most people are more than happy to help out and wish you the best of luck.

"Fishing with Charlie"

Tom G. fished with Sea Dream Offshore Charters on July 16, 2019

Take a boat like to see drain for the meet and captain and teach you how to fish be very patient with you

"Full day trip with Captain Ethan"

Janell K. fished with Seas The Day NC on July 6, 2019

You will get wet. Bring extra sunscreen.

"Half Day Trip With Captain John"

John W. fished with Hook Up Charters on July 2, 2019

Highly recommend The Hook Up. He makes it very easy for first time anglers.

What would you recommend to anglers fishing in Hatteras, North Carolina for the first time?

Top Types of Fishing in Hatteras

  1. Offshore Fishing

Top Fishing Techniques in Hatteras

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Hatteras

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel



Tuna (Yellowfin)

Tuna (Yellowfin)



Marlin (Blue)

Marlin (Blue)

Tuna (Bluefin)

Tuna (Bluefin)