Spring Fishing on the Outer Banks
By Mattie Dalia –
Yeah buddy! Warm weather time means time to get fishing. As the air and (more importantly) water temperatures start rising, so do the odds of getting hooked up. Dust off the tackle, start stalking the fishing reports and get pumped for the start of a fun season.
And not a moment too soon: the winter was brutal on anglers. We all know that the coldest months of the year do not produce much opportunity for fishing. But you can usually find some rockfish around the bridges or some trout holed up in the sound. This year, I heard practically nothing, unless you took a charter trip out to the Gulf Stream or a car ride up to Virginia. Blah on the winter.
But let’s put all that behind us and take a closer look at what we have to look forward to this spring.
Fishing the big blue waters in the spring can provide better conditions: for the fishing part of the trip and the trip part of the trip. A two hour ride out to the Gulf Stream at 6am in the morning is much more enjoyable with mild weather. Once the captain gets you out to the primo waters, you will hopefully get on a bluefin catch, carrying over from the colder months. Next up the yellowfin tuna, starting around April. As the temperatures warm up into May, gaffer dolphin (larger size) and bailer dolphin (smaller, schooling size) show up in the fish box. Beer-battered dolphin (mahi) make me quite happy.
Trolling action kicks into swing with the nearshore boats. Spanish and king mackerel start patrolling the surf and get anglers on their toes. Speckle trout and flounder are fun and tasty catches. You can always count on running into bluefish near the coast and inshore. I hate that some people give blues a bad rap in the kitchen. Trust me, batter up and fry some freshly caught chunks, within no more than 12 hours of catching, and it will taste delicious. I look forward to my invitation to dinner.
The pier is a great place to be in the spring in the Outer Banks. Stop by the tackle shop and get stocked up with the following: shad darts (I prefer for 1/4oz yellow or chartreuse with bucktail) for hickory shad, lead jigs and plastic grubs (double rigs, red jig head, chartreuse Saltwater Assassin paddle tail or curly tail Gulp mullet grub) for speckle trout and Got-Cha plugs (white body, red head is a go-to color) for bluefish and Spanish Mackerel. Then hit the planks running, with plenty of room in the cooler.
Bottom fisherman and lure casting anglers revel in the springtime, fishing from the surf. And while the surf fishing cranks up in the spring, one of the biggest challenges is to know when and what beach accesses are open for ORV (off road vehicle) driving. Be sure to check in with the National Park Service about the status of driving on the various beaches AND the requirements. Back to the fishing: look for catches of speckled trout, croaker, sea mullet and bluefish. Pack up and hit the beach!
Tips and cool info
2013 Beach Driving Rules/Requirements
The requirements and status of being able to drive on our beaches change more than the weather. Here are the current guidelines: A permit is now required to drive the Cape Hatteras seashore. Two options: seven day pass for $50 or annual pass for $120. You have to watch a seven minute video and sign an agreement at one of three permit offices. There are seasonal restrictions on nighttime driving. There are seasonal and temporary route closures throughout the year. Please make your way over to the ORV page for Cape Hatteras on www.nps.gov to see the latest and greatest info.
Other Cape Hatteras National Seashore Rules and Tips
While you are out there fishing and having a wonderful day on the Cape Hatteras seashore, here are some other things to keep in mind (please note that the beach towns have different rules than these, so check in with each town): You can build a fire on the beach with a free Beach Fire Permit from an ORV permit office. Pets are welcome on the beach, just make sure Fido is on a 6-foot leash at all times. Horses, shelling, launching kayaks: all YES. Camping, fireworks, launching personal watercrafts: NO.
Mattie Dalia has fished the coastal waters his entire life and made a lifelong dream come true by moving to the Outer Banks in 2006. You can usually find him in the evenings on Nags Head Fishing Pier, pursuing his favorite fish, el Spanish mackerel. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.