Deep Sea Fishing in North Carolina
North Carolina has been voted as one of the top states to live in. The ‘Tar Heel State’ has been booming on many fronts in the past two decades, but one thing holds true - the rich selection of Yellowfin Tuna offshore is second to none.
Given the remarkable deep sea fishing NC boasts each year, it’s easy to see why so many fishing experts have written about it extensively. Anglers young and old tell tales of the biggest Tuna and Marlin they have snatched near the Gulf Stream fisheries. If you want a proverbial ‘rite of passage’ towards becoming a fully-fledged angler, then these deep sea fishing trips should be your next move.
Scientists have linked North Carolina’s ample fishing opportunities to its distinctive terrain. Facing the Atlantic, the coastline of NC is close to some staggering drop-offs, where the continental shelf dives into the depths and the ocean floor drops from 200 ft to 600 ft within miles, only to plunge further as the continental slope slides below the 1,000 ft mark some 60 miles from the coast.
The reason why deep sea fishing out of North Carolina is so productive are the warm currents of the Gulf Stream flowing between 12-15 miles from the Outer Banks. Most of the time, these deep sea fishing charters will mean a jaunt to the Gulf Stream where Marlin and Tuna cruise looking for their prey.
Where to launch from
NC deep sea fishing charters are lined down the coastline, from Corolla and Kitty Hawk in the north, past the storied Outer Banks, all the way down to Wrightsville Beach. The distance from incredibly rich fisheries varies slightly, with the Outer Banks leading the way. Most fishing charters have a local captain at the helm who’s battled these game fish before, and often with plenty of success. It’s just a matter of what part of North Carolina you’re going to visit.
All there is to say about Outer Banks deep sea fishing can’t even fit into a large book, but here’s what you absolutely must know. You can sample some of the very best Yellowfin Tuna right here. They are accompanied by Blackfin, Bluefin, and Bigeye. Once the summer sets in, scores of anglers will head east towards the warm currents. Your top catch here are feisty Tuna. Most of the time, a full day trip will be enough to come back home with bragging rights. But it doesn’t stop there. Enormous Wahoo and trophy size White and Blue Marlin are swimming nearby.
Out of Wrightsville Beach
If you decide to make it to the deep sea fisheries out of this part of NC, you’ll be richly rewarded. Once you make it past the reefs and wrecks and reach the continental slope some 60 miles from shore, you’ll be able to get a rich variety of big game. This is where Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Sailfish, and White and Blue Marlin reside.
Morehead City and Atlantic Beach
If you can’t make it to the Outer Banks, the rest of the NC coastline will make sure you don’t miss a thing. Superb fishing takes place here as well, with the gulf stream flowing just 50 miles from the dock. There are numerous honey holes here, with holes, bed, slopes, and drop-offs scattered around. From Tuna, Mahi, Marlin, and Sailfish, to Tilefish and other bottom critters, this part of the coast is a great take-off place if you want exemplar NC deep sea fishing.
How to get the NC game fish
If you want to prepare yourself for deep sea fisheries of NC, watch Wicked Tuna (it’s addictive, don’t say we didn’t warn you), and stick to proven fishing techniques that yield the catch. Charter captains will help you out, so even if you don’t have years of experience, this could be your chance to land an impressive catch.
Trolling is the most effective way to get most of these bad boys, whether it’s with live bait or artificial lures (for more knowledgeable anglers). You can troll for Wahoo in summer time, using Ballyhoo and downriggers or planers to drop the bait deep enough.
Blue Marlin are the top game fish of these waters and feed on pelagics such as Mackerel, Tuna, and Mahi as well. They can reach an impressive size, and you will need focus and an experienced crew to guide the way. These beauties are super strong, so when trolling with live bait make sure to use heavy tackle. Once they are hooked, they will make a stunning run, pulling hundreds of yards of line from the reel. If you’re targeting White Marlin, lighten up and go with 20- and 30- pound outfits. You can troll Ballyhoo and get excellent results.
Depending on the fish you target, local captains will mostly use six lines for trolling. This seems to be the best way to go about these predatory pelagics. You get a nice spread of bait and lures, and avoid getting lines tangled.
The target species dictates the speed at which you will troll. Many of these fish feed near the surface, so even though the water is several hundred feet deep, shallow trolling will be the safest way to get Billfish and Mahi. As for the weapon of choice, stick to Ballyhoo as they are cheap and produce good results.
Top Targeted Deep Sea Fishing Species in North Carolina
- Size 15 to 35lbs
- Food Value Average
- Game Qualities Excellent
- Habitats Nearshore, Offshore, Reef
What People Are Saying About Deep Sea Fishing in North Carolina
"3/4 day with Capt Jesse"
This was our first deep sea fishing trip and it was great from start to finish. Capt. Jesse and his crew took great care of us and we will book him again!
"Half Day Red Drum Fishing"
We wanted to do a full day deep sea full day trip but unfortunately the weather wasn't good enough for that to happen, however Captain Austin still showed us a great time Drum fishing for a half day trip. We all had a blast and are hoping to do another trip with him again in the future!
"Wonderful trip for all ages!"
Our group of 11 had an awesome time trolling with Captain Ed and first-mate Keith. Keith is such a hard worker and a very nice person. He really cared about making sure that my boys, 4 and 6, had an amazing first deep sea fishing trip.