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Top Fishing Charters in Outer Banks

Fishing in Outer Banks

Fishing in the Outer Banks may not be as famous as it is in some other parts of the US (Florida Keys, we’re looking at you), but that is certainly not because it shouldn’t be. This 200 mile-long stretch of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina is rapidly making its way onto every adventurous angler’s to do list. And with a seemingly never-ending stretch of interconnected sounds on the one hand and an unusually short ride to the gulf stream on the other, it’s easy to see why.

Known For

The Outer Banks (OBX for those in the know) is its own unique world. These are the waters where ‘backing winds’ and ‘sundogs’ are things that must be steered clear of, where Striped Bass is called Rockfish, and you’ll do everything you can to avoid looking like a ‘dingbatter’ on a boat. These miles of ever-shifting beaches are a truly magical place… and just wait till you find out what’s waiting for you once you leave the shore.

Outer Banks fishing charters are your gateway to exploring these fabled waterways like a local. And when local hotspots include some of the biggest names in sport fishing, that’s not an opportunity you’ll want to pass up. Whether you’re sailing out of the Oregon Inlet from Nags Head, Manteo or Wanchese, or heading into the Atlantic from Hatteras or Ocracoke (to name just a few iconic destinations), you will be following in the footsteps of some of the bravest pioneers of sportfishing.

Offshore, you can sample some of the finest Tuna fishing in the United States. Warm water lovers Blackfin and Yellowfin Tuna join forces with their Bigeye and Bluefin cousins to give anglers just about as good a run for their money as they can get. With the Gulf Stream easily accessible in a day trip from most locations in the summer, it’s hardly surprising that trophy-sized Wahoo, enormous schools of Mahi, and even Blue and White Marlin regularly find their way onto the deck of Outer Banks deep sea fishing charters. And with Cape Point jutting out into the paths of both the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current, you can see why Hatteras Island has earned the nickname of the ‘Blue Marlin Capital of the World’.

If battling a sea monster in the choppy waters offshore doesn’t take your fancy, then we bet you you’ll be able to find some Outer Banks inshore fishing charters that do. Both the Pamlico Sound and the Albemarle Sound play host to an enormous number of not-very-small fish all year round. Go ‘sound side’, and you’ll be looking at everything from Bull Redfish, Spanish Mackerel, Tarpon, and Cobia to Striped Bass and Bluefish. This is a West Atlantic melting pot in its finest form, with the juiciest specimens from the North and the South all mingling together right here.

If you’re looking for fish tales that will last a lifetime, Outer Banks charter fishing will do everything it can to deliver. And we bet that once you’ve been there a while, there will be nothing that means quite as much to you as the brogue of the ‘hoi toiders’ and the smell of the sea on the sands.

Rules & Regulations

Recreational anglers need a fishing license in North Carolina. Charter operators have the option of purchasing a Blanket License to cover everyone on board - check whether or not you need to purchase your own with your individual charter operator before your trip. Size and bag limits apply for a number of fish species.

Types of Fishing

Find a big enough boat, head out of Oregon Inlet or Hatteras, and you will be in reach of some of the best deep sea fishing in the Unites States. In the summer, troll the Gulf Stream for Marlin (Blue and White), as well as Mahi Mahi and the speedster of the seas - Wahoo. In the winter, keep your ear to the ground to find out when the Bluefin are arriving. Most Outer Banks Tuna fishing charters will fish for them by chunking with Menhaden, although trolling with heavy tackle is getting more and more popular. Looking for fun? Try jigging for big Blackfin Tuna!

Inshore, there are several events you don’t want to miss. These are the explosive Drum run in the spring and the fall, when record-breaking Red Drum pass by these shores. In the early summer, look for Cobia around the inlets and hone your detective skills as you sight fish for these brown-scaled monsters.

No boat? Surf fishing is very popular in the Outer Banks, and it’s not surprising given the huge stretches of sand that these barrier islands are made up of. Bring a 6-10ft surf fishing rod and stock up on cut Squid and Mullet (bloodworms and artificial lures are also effective). Anything from Bluefish to Flounder could take your bait!

Pro tip: it’s not only serious sport fisherman who enjoy OBX fishing. Get your feet wet with the kids on a shrimping or crabbing trip and you’ll be fed for a week!

Outer Banks
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Outer Banks Fishing Seasons

January in the Outer Banks can be hit and miss. Wintery conditions can put a stop to offshore trips. But if you make it out, it will be well worth it: Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna are common, with Bluefin being a possibility.

February is Outer Banks Tuna season, with Bluefin Tuna showing up offshore through March and Yellowfin and Blackfin Tuna also in the mix. Look for schools of Striped Bass and big Bluefish around the inlets.

This is still an excellent time to fish for Tuna, with Little Tunny joining the crew that was around in February. Inshore, Bluefish and Black Drum are biting well. The weather can be changeable, but the water is still cold.

Spring starts to appear. And as it does, so does the Gulf Stream. As this warm current of water arrives from the South, along come larger numbers of Yellowfin Tuna. Inshore, don't miss the famous Drum run.

Deep sea fishing begins to pick up pace in May, with Mahi Mahi and the occasional Wahoo joining in the fun offshore. The Drum run continues early in the month inshore - ask an inshore guide to show you how much fun this is.

As the tourist season heats up, so does the fishing. Most captains are going out every day on the trail of Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi, Sailfish, and Marlin. Don't miss the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament!

July is right in the middle of the peak of the Outer Banks fishing season. Everything is biting, from Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, and Mahi offshore to Tarpon, Cobia, and Spanish Mackerel inshore. Just be sure to book ahead!

Put your fishing skills to the test in August, as the peak fishing season combines with tournament time. Look out for the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament and the Alice Kelly Ladies Billfish Tournament.

Once Labor Day is over, the crowds die down. But the fishing is heating up more than ever. Despite the cooler weather, the Gulf Stream remains hot offshore. And don't miss the Hatteras Village Invitational surf fishing tournament.

The second Drum run of the year is in full swing inshore. Look for Striped Bass in the Pamlico Sound, with fun fishing nearshore for King Mackerel and Albacore Tuna. Offshore, look for Mahi, Wahoo, and Tuna.

Most years, the Gulf Stream will still be accessible. This means exciting fishing offshore for the likes of Wahoo and Yellowfin Tuna. As the weather cools, some huge Bluefin and Bigeye Tuna may add to the mix.

As winter draws in, your best chance of a steady bite is in the inshore waters. Look for Striped Bass, Bluefish, Speckled Trout, and Black Drum in the sounds and inlets or search for monster Tuna offshore when conditions allow.

Outer Banks Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About Outer Banks

"What a Great Day!"

Barry Taylor fished with Bootlegger Sportfishing on October 19, 2018

Charter Bootlegger. You won't be disappointed.

"Half Day Trip with Captain Bobby Smith"

Tad Brown fished with Fish-N-Fool Charters on October 19, 2018

Great experience - great weather to be out fishing in

"3/4 day"

Stephen Schadie fished with X-Spearmint Sportfishing on October 11, 2018

Be prepared ocean can be rough at times but that should be expected

"great day"

Ollie Hellert fished with Carolina Girl Sportfishing on September 29, 2018

weather was warm a little rough but OK---hard work by crew to get you fish

Top Types of Fishing in Outer Banks

  1. Inshore Fishing
  2. Offshore Fishing

Top Fishing Techniques in Outer Banks

  1. Deep Sea Fishing

Top Targeted Species in Outer Banks

Cobia

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Spanish Mackerel

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Top Outer Banks Destinations