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Top Fishing Charters in North Carolina

Fishing in North Carolina

The Old North State is the darling of East Coast offshore anglers thanks to its close proximity to the Atlantic bluewater. That’s why North Carolina fishing charters are the number one choice for anyone looking to brave the deeper waters of the Atlantic in search of real sportfishing heavyweights. Both the Outer Banks as well as the Crystal Coast share the reputation of providing some of the best deep sea fishing trips on the East Coast, but that’s not all. Inshore anglers can get some good fishing done all over the coastline, and lake fishing further inland is well and alive for those who prefer freshwater fishing.

Fishing Locations in NC

The wonderful thing about fishing in North Carolina is that you don’t need to worry all that much about the exact place where you’ll be fishing. Close your eyes and pick a spot somewhere on the coastline and we’re pretty sure there’s a fishing hotspot within 20 miles. If you’re interested in only the very best, we’ll list some destinations that should be on any angler’s radar.

Outer Banks

On the very tip of the Outer Banks that faces the Atlantic, you’ll find the lovely little village of Hatteras. Don’t let its small size fool you, because you’re looking at the capital of Outer Banks deep sea fishing charters. It’s the only place where you can be on the Gulf Stream in less than 20 miles offshore, which is incredibly convenient for anyone who doesn’t like spending time on getting to the fishing grounds. And the fishing grounds are really something to behold - Hatteras Island is known as “The Blue Marlin Capital of the World” for good reason. Add to that huge numbers of Tarpon and Spanish Mackerel that make their way here every summer, and you’ve got a real chunk of fishing paradise.

Go 60 miles northward and you’ll be at the Oregon Inlet, the running mate for the position of ‘best fishing spot in the Outer Banks.’ The inlet itself is home to some legendary Bull Red fishing year after year, and surfers absolutely love lining up on the Herbert C Bonner Bridge. As is proper for a place on the Outer Banks, the offshore fishing scene is very lively to boot, with Billfish tournaments being a local tradition. When North Carolina Tuna season sets in, you’ll be knee deep in Bluefins, so don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Onslow Bay

Onslow Bay stretches out for more than a hundred miles’ worth of coastline, with beautiful beaches on its northern half making up the Crystal Coast. The crown jewel of the Crystal Coast is the summer resort location that’s also the main gathering place for deep sea fishing, Atlantic Beach. If you’re in Atlantic Beach with a mind to go after big game, get yourself and offshore charter that will take you to the so-called Big Rock. Located some 60 miles out, it’s a destination so popular that they named a tournament after it.

Those in the market for inshore fishing will not be left empty-handed. Both Atlantic Beach and its next-door neighbor, Morehead City, provide anglers with a number of things to do inshore. You’ll find plenty of marshland here that’s very suitable for catching Redfish, Seatrout, and Flounder. If you’re looking for a more scenic experience to add on top of the fishing, Cape Lookout is just a short ride out. Once you’re done fishing you can check out the lighthouse or watch the wild horses grazing along the coastline.

For those who might be visiting North Carolina for the first time, check out Topsail Beach, Surf City, and Wrightsville Beach. These places are more oriented towards regular tourism, and each of them has some great inshore fishing to look forward to.

Oak Island

Oak Island is where to go if you want to incorporate fishing into your family trip. Not only is it a first-class tourism destination, but it has an outstanding fishery to boot. There are two public fishing piers for anglers who like to be on solid ground. On the other hand, you’ll easily find a charter captain who’ll take you either to the Intracoastal Waterway or near the Gulf Stream if you’re after big game. Don’t count on a short trip if you opt for the latter, because you’ll need to go 60+ miles to reach the fishing grounds, making a 10-hour trip the bare minimum.

Lake Norman

Anyone coming to fish from another state is most likely bound for Lake Norman. A regular stop on a number of freshwater tournaments, the lake is open to anglers during the entire year. You can find an interesting variety of species here, with White Perch being the best represented of the bunch. In spite of that, anglers prefer to go after Largemouth Bass, or Sunfish if they’re looking to fill up the freezer.

Fishing Techniques

Redfish is the main target for many an angler in these parts. Use Minnows and live lining to get the best results in the shortest span of time. Switch to Shrimp, and you’ll also attract Black Drum in droves. If you’ve had a long day and want to end it on a high note, book a Flounder gigging trip. These usually start just after sunset and are loads of fun.

Offshore fishing techniques can vary depending on what you want to catch exactly. When taking part in the type of Bluefin Tuna fishing trips the Outer Banks are known for, you’ll be trolling with 80-130lb test lines. Sturdiness is important here because you might be in for several hours of struggle. When your main target is Sailfish, your charter captain will most likely stick with using a regular Sea Witch, especially if they’re from Morehead City.

Need to Know

Going out with a licensed captain means not worrying about buying a fishing license for yourself. If you want to head out solo, you’ll need a North Carolina fishing license for every angler over 16. This applies to fishing on piers as well, not just boats. In case you’re planning to go on a longer trip to the Gulf Stream, be sure to have motion sickness meds on hand if you need them. It’s always a good idea to consult with the charter captain to ensure you have the best possible time on the water.

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North Carolina Fishing Seasons

The beaches might be empty, but the waters are definitely not! You’ll find plenty of Bluefin Tuna swimming around offshore, while Redfish and Black Seabass rule the waters inshore.

February around here means more of the same. That’s a very good thing if you like Bluefin Tuna, but you still need to wait if you want to get your hands on some Yellowfins.

While not as delicious as their Bluefin brethren, Yellowfin tuna will give you a fight to remember. Inshore, Cape Lookout will be home for some big Redfish this time of year.

Mahi Mahi will be making an entrance over at Hatteras, closely followed by Wahoo and bigger Yellowtails. Redfish and Trout bite will remain steady wherever you look.

May is known as Cobia time all over the state. Depending on your fishing style, jigs or live eels should yield the best results. You are also likely to see Tarpon make an appearance.

Hatteras is also known as the Blue Marlin Capital of the World. If you’re a sceptic, come on down during June and see for yourself. Also expect Sailfish and other big pelagics.

The peak of tournament season! You’ll find Billfish tournaments in every town and village with a fishing scene, from Nag’s Head to Hatteras and beyond. Why not join in the fun?

The tournaments are over, but the fish are still there. Good fishing is all-around, whether it’s for Billfish, Tarpon, Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, or Redfish and Black Drum. All yours for the taking.

The weather might be cooling, but that’s not stopping anybody. Blue and White Marlin reign supreme offshore, while Seatrout, Redfish, and Black Drum are solid choices inshore.

Great big “Smoker Kings” will hog the spotlight in October. This is the time to be on the water if you want to fight hordes of Kingfish, both in the Outer Banks and on the Crystal Coast.

If you’ve longed for Tuna, get ready to celebrate. Bluefin Tuna are back in business, and they’re spoiling for a fight. Artificial reefs are your go-to for filling up the cooler with bottom feeders.

As is customary for wintertime, Redfish are holed up in the backcountry, making for some awesome sight casting trips. The Gulf Stream can be referred to as “Tuna Central.”

North Carolina Fishing Calendar

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What People Are Saying About North Carolina

"Half-day trip with Captain Dennis"

Dale Barnes fished with Caught Up Fishing Charters on November 6, 2018

Had a great time fishing the area. November may be a little slower but we still had a great time and got some fish. Hey it's better than working.

"10 hrs with Captain Ron and deckhand Keith"

Christopher Dixon fished with Lucky Strike Charters on November 1, 2018

Pay the extra and charter with Captain Ron.youll catch more, be more comfortable, and be more relaxed.

"Oct fishing trip"

Michael Wathen fished with Conjured Up Fishing Charters on October 23, 2018

Book with Conjured Up Fishing. I'm looking forward to next October. I want to see how the fishing is without a recent hurricane. Still caught a lot of fish.

"10 hour trip"

Dalton Ray Britt Britt fished with Lucky 13 Sportfishing on October 23, 2018

on the shore fish at day break when the tide is coming from low to high about a hour into it or charter a boat going to the frying pan tower about 42 miles out or the pier is good at sunrise or sunset. use fress bate the fresser the beter.

Top Fishing Techniques in North Carolina

  1. Deep Sea Fishing
  2. Fly Fishing

Top Targeted Species in North Carolina

Spanish Mackerel

King Mackerel (Kingfish)

Dolphin (Mahi Mahi)

Redfish

Top North Carolina Destinations