Surf Fishing The Outer Banks of North Carolina
My first experience surf fishing was with my father on Wrightsville Beach, NC in the 60's. He parked our shiny black Ford Fairlane in a gravel parking lot off the beach and we hiked over the dunes to the surf, carrying rods, buckets, tackle box and various other fishing paraphernalia. I remember him catching bluefish, croakers, puppy drum and flounder as I played in the tidal pools nearby. Later, my grandmother would fry the filleted fish to a golden brown and we would eat them with hushpuppies and coleslaw.
Years later, in the mid-eighties, I remember an early winter fishing expedition near Oregon Inlet, south of Nags Head, this time with my husband, 8-month old daughter and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy. My husband had come in from duck hunting and had heard the big blues were hitting the beach! We parked our 4-wheel drive truck nearby on the hard sand and with the baby playing contentedly in her car seat and the puppy chewing on anything he could find, we lined up along the surf with a few dozen other fishermen, casting the heavy silver spoon lures into the churning waters of the big blue blitz. Cast after cast we were rewarded with huge bluefish, twelve to sixteen pounds, filling up a wheelbarrow in a pyramid of large fish. Later we filleted, boiled and ate the fish in casseroles made with mashed potatoes. Needless to say, we were eating bluefish casseroles all winter long.
Surf fishing is exciting, rewarding and accessible to all. Most locations can be reached either by car or ferry. With a basic understanding of seasons, conditions, equipment and regulations, an angler can get lucky just about any time of the year, but typically the very best times to surf fish are spring and fall.
Popular and prolific sport fish species you may catch surf fishing along the North Carolina coast include:
(red drum, puppy drum)
Other species available to North Carolina surf fishermen are pompano, croaker, trout, spot, hogfish and whiting (sea mullet).
Be advised that there is a proposed recreational saltwater fishing license, which is scheduled to take effect January 2006. The license is still being debated by the North Carolina General Assembly and you should check the NC Marine Fisheries website (http://www.ncfisheries.net) to determine if a license is required before fishing the NC coast after that date.
Also, the size regulations and limits given above are accurate at the time of this writing (summer 2005) but are subject to change, so check the NC Marine Fisheries website to confirm these regulations before your fishing expedition.
Whether beginning angler or old salt, surf fishing is a popular and fun activity with minimal expense, no boat required, easy access to great fishing conditions and plenty of action. With a minimum of effort and expense, you can catch a variety of excellent eating fish, have a great time and start making your own memories.
E. A. Edwards is a free-lance writer with a variety of professional and personal interests.
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