My Favorite Places Fish

The most frequently asked question by visiting anglers. Where can I go fishing while visiting the Northern Outer Banks? Well, here are the “Walkingangler’s” favorites.

Daniels Bridge – great bridge deck to fish from both on north and south sides. Easy access, parking, restrooms, shaded area, fishing cleaning station. Good for crabbing. Look for channels and moving water. There is deep hole approximately one hundred fifty yards south of bridge. Long casts and covering more water increases catches.

Wildlife Pier / William Baum Bridge – long dock that extends into Albemarle Sound. Easy access, parking, restrooms, shaded certain times a day, benches. Fish the north and east sides of dock. Drag baits along the pilings and cast north into the slough / channel leading into marina. Avoid south side – rubble and snags from bridge construction.

Various boat ramps – Wildlife pier ramp (under Baum bridge) and Oregon Inlet (near Coast Guard Station) ramp are good places to find many bottom fish. Long casts into the sound and slow retrievals into the holes increase catches. Watch to boats being launched and loaded.  

Oregon Inlet Fishing Center – south point on east side of basin. Good wade fishing and crabbing Watch for waves from boats and deep holes while wading. Parking is good at marina. Restroom facilities are fishing center.

Various dune cross-overs. KH, KDH and NH have dozens of dune break for immediate access to the surf. Some areas require a long walk. Some areas have adequate parking, potable toilets, and stairs and ramps. Fish the moving tides and focus on the close in sloughs.

BeBop Pier – west end on Mann’s Harbor Bridge. Easy access, limited parking, shaded area with benches.  North side is good for shallow fishing. East and south are adjacent to bridge. Long casts toward bridge into slough increases chances. Lots of crabs and mosquitoes during the summer.

Bodie Island Slough – west end of parking area at the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Long walk through gate at end of circle along a dirt road. Minimal parking. No restrooms adjacent to fishing area. Once at slough, good fishing to the north or around any structure. Lots of crabs and mosquitoes most of the year.

Pamlico Sound / Hatteras Island Sound fronts – many pull offs along the entire coast with direct access to shallow water. No facilities. Park parking permit may be needed if off pavement.

Obviously, there are dozens more but these are my favorites. We haven’t included the piers because they are a given. These are the special spots. Piers will be discussed during another post.

Remember – anglers will need a license to fish any of these spots.

Good Luck and Enjoy!!

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

The “Little Bridge”

The Melvin R. Daniels Bridge is one of the favorite places to fish on the Outer Banks. Better known as the “little bridge”, it was once one of the local’s best kept secret. But with its central location, easy access, amenities and abundance of action most of the year, this bridge is now known as one of the best places to catch fish.

The Daniels Bridge is located in the town of Nags Head on Rt. 64/264 Manteo Causeway just west of Whalebone Junction. The concrete structure has easily accessible guarded walkways on both sides of the bridge. A five foot concrete barrier on the south side provide protection from wind and traffic.

The parking lot on the west side of the bridge can accommodate dozens of vehicles.  And adjacent to the parking area, visitors will find a nice picnic area, covered pavilion and modern restroom facilities. There is also fish cleaning table and running water as an added convenience.

When fishing this bridge, most anglers will start on the south side and work their way along the walkway from west to east. After working the south side anglers will typically flip to the northern side of the bridge.

Many species of fish can be found around this bridge. The key is watching the bait fish and other anglers. Try to mirror their actions. The sound bottom is mostly sandy with minimal structures outside the bridge footprint.   Unless jigging, it is a safe bet to fish close in toward the bridge pilings. Fast moving current under this bridge is the angler’s best friend.

Most anglers use a light to medium fishing gear to either bottom fish or jig for roving schools speckled trout or stripers. The standard two hook bottom rig tipped with small #4 hooks with fresh shrimp or cut bait is best for bottom fishing. When jigging, anglers typically use small lead head jigs fitted with a swim bait or other artificial plastics.

The best advantage for anglers who fish on the bridge is they don’t need any special equipment. It is important to just keep it simple. A simple light rod and reel, a two bottom rig and some fresh bait should help to get the action started quickly.

Anglers who want to fish on the Daniel’s bridge need to purchase a saltwater fishing license and obtain a copy of the local fishing regulations. It is also imperative that all anglers know the creel and bag limits for each species.

The saltwater license, a copy of the regulations, fresh bait along with any fishing gear can be picked up at any local tackle shop.

So for a great place for the beginning angler, kids of all ages, families or the experienced angler looking for that trophy fish, the Melvin R Daniels “Little Bridge” is the place to go.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Organize Your Bags

Tackle bags can sometimes be compared with our backyard sheds. We buy a great tool, maybe use it once or twice, and then need a place to store it before the next use. And that next use may not be anytime soon.  So we place it in the shed and then the next thing we know, the shed is full and when we need that tool, you can’t find it.

Well, our tackle bags are a lot like those backyard sheds. We need a place to store our go-to items along with that special gear we purchased with the hope that it would work. And like storing dozens of tools in the shed, the fishing gear somehow gets shoved in our tackle bags and frequently gets lost or damaged.

Not only can gear get damaged but the angler can get injured reaching into their bag for something only to get stuck by a hook or bait knife.

Organization of fishing tackle and gear is imperative. Most anglers use plastic trays or zip lock bags to store items in their bag. Hooks, sinkers, floats and other items should be kept in their original containers if possible. Bags and boxes have many compartments which can be used for frequently use tools, extra line, scents.

So when the fish are biting or the blitz is on is no time to begin digging into you gear box or bag to retrieve something. It’s best to put things in their place where you can access them quickly before the big rush occurs.

Remember, your target species won’t wait around for you to rig up the right gear and catch them.  You must be ready at any moment.

“Because most times you only have a moment to make that cast”.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Sea Mullet – Our Mainstay

Sea mullet are one of the easiest fish to catch on the Outer Banks. They have slender body with a slightly arched dorsal fin. Their color can range from a light to dark grey with dark shaded stripes. Their mouth faces downward to assist in feeding.

They range in size from several inches up to eighteen with the typical size being caught range to ten to fifteen inches.

Sea mullet can go by several names including Whiting, Kingfish or roundhead.  Most anglers just call them “fun to catch”

Sea mullet can be found along the entire Outer Banks coastline from April through October. They typically show up in the spring when the water begins to reach fifty degrees and stay around until the water cools in the fall.

Local anglers target these fish in the shallow surf zones and on the piers. They can range from the close in sloughs to out in the deeper water and also adjacent to structures such as piers and docks.

I usually find them either right near the beach in shallow water or half to three quarters out on the piers. When fishing on the piers, I usually will cast out and away from a structure and retrieve back to me. South side seems to work best for me but either should work when they are there.

They are typically bottom feeders and prefer cloudy or stained water. Sea mullet will stay in a zone where there is a lot of water movement.

This constant water movement stirs the bottom and mixes the food source that the mullet search for. They also search for food by smell so fresh baits are always the best way to go.

These regular visitors to our waters are caught on standard one or two hook bottom rig. Sea mullet have a small mouth so I always start with a small hooks and depending on my success, and change up or down in size as needed.

I prefer a number four “J” or circle hook. I just bait the hook with a small bait. The best baits for sea mullet is fresh shrimp, bloodworms, or fish bites.

When you use shrimp, always purchase eating type shrimp. I never peel the shrimp. The hard shell usually helps the bait they on the hook.

To increase your chances of catching, change the bait frequently.

When the sea mullet are in season, you can fill a cooler in no time. And most probably one of the best eating fish with its white flaky meat.

But please remember, when fishing, only harvest what you plan to use fresh. Frozen sea mullet or any fish loses it favor quickly.

So grab a rod and hi the surf today. There is no better time to catch a sea mullet is now.

Oh, and one more thing that will make your day better is to take a kid fishing. With every fish they catch that smile gets wider.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Know the Rules

Fishing in Florida during the colder months can be an extremely rewarding experience if you know the rules. Now we are not talking about the rules and regulations on creel and bags limits. Although knowledge of these regulations are mandatory in every region, it’s the small subtitles that can make a difference of success for the visiting angler.

We hear all the time that fishing is the same regardless where you fish. But in Florida that can’t be further from the truth. The various species are stealth and they spook very easily. And catching them can test even the most passionate angler.

There several interesting techniques that can increase the potential for success.

Know your target. Some of the most important items to be aware of when fishing in Florida is to know your targets specific tendencies. Temperature preference, tide phases, feeding habits, and movements and means of comfort and hideaways are important tips that help the angler. Being familiar with these can help improve your success potential

Match the hatch is probably the second most important tip to remember. Many species are creatures of habit and they will feed on the most plentiful and easiest bait available. So the best way to increase the success rate is use a lure or bait that is similar to what’s in the water. Color is also important but it’s the contrast and presentation technique that can have more influence. The key: mimic the food source and try to “BE THE BAIT”.

Downsize your gear. The lighter the gear the easier it is to place the bait in the proper location, present it naturally and then feel the bite. Minimize any foreign objects from the environment. Anything outside the lure should appear natural. So use the lightest leader materials, limit you connections to only small knots and avoid any type of metal on your tackle or baits.

Technique and Presentation. Regardless of your lure or bait selection, it’s the natural presentation that can make all the difference. The retrieval technique can make the difference between a strike and spooking your target. Remember, most strikes occur during a pause in any retrieve when the prey is most vulnerable.

Change it up. Some anglers will switch their salt to fresh water gear to encourage the strike. Modifying baits such as adding a rattle or cutting a slice from a plastic swim bait that mimics a wounded fish may spark the interest of a feeding fish. As a general rule, “change is always good”.

Although there are dozens of other techniques, I have found these to help increase my catch rate.

Never be satisfied with the basic package, experiment and challenge yourself and you will not be disappointed.

Until Next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

CHNS Celebration 2019

CHNS NEWS RELEASE – March 18, 2019

Save the Date – Cape Hatteras Surf Fishing Heritage Celebration – November 2, 2019

On November 2, 2019, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, along with partner organizations, will celebrate the area’s strong surf fishing history at the 1st annual Cape Hatteras Surf Fishing Heritage Celebration. The free event will be held at the Fessenden Center in Buxton, North Carolina.

To celebrate the past, present, and future of surf fishing at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a full day of talks and presentations on a variety of surf fishing-related topics will be offered at the Cape Hatteras Surf Fishing Heritage Celebration on November 2. The event will include presentations on the history of surf fishing at the seashore, casting demonstrations, evolution of beach buggies, rod building, and more.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is currently planning the event with help from the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, Outer Banks Forever, Outer Banks History Center, and Outer Banks Preservation Association.

More details about the Cape Hatteras Surf Fishing Heritage Celebration will be announced at a later date via news release and on Cape Hatteras National Seashore’s Facebook page.

For more information: Contact: Mike Barber, 252-475-9032

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt Tony

News on Bonner Bridge Catwalk

Pedestrian Access to Old Bonner Bridge to be Closed Starting Next Week

During the week of March 18, contractors for the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will be installing gates and fences around the southern end of the Bonner Bridge and adjoining catwalks, as workers prepare for demolition work on the bridge. This will temporarily end public pedestrian access to the bridge while the demolition takes place over the next year.

“It’s a safety issue,” said NCDOT Division One Engineer Jerry Jennings. “The south end of the old bridge will become a work zone for the next 10-12 months, so we need to keep the public out of harm’s way.”

About 1,000 feet of the bridge will remain after the demolition process and be converted into a public walkway. That section is expected to reopen in 2020 when the demolition project is complete.

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

“March” into Spring

We are rapidly heading into the spring fishery on the Outer Banks with numerous reports of blow toads and sea mullet beginning to show up on the Hatteras Island beaches. Water temperatures are gradually increasing and it won’t be long before our spring species are well settled in both the ocean and sound waters.

But are you ready? At the end of the last fishing season, there were many things to address.  Let’s look back to our new year’s resolutions and see what still needs to be done.

First item – Get more knowledge. This doesn’t mean we have to go back to school but fishing seminars do help. Learning new things is important for increased success. The best way to gain more knowledge is look back at your log book. What worked best and when? The variables were time of day, tides, weather conditions but probably more important was the water temperatures and barometer readings. One of the best sources of knowledge you can have.

Another way is stopping by your local tackle shops. They can help with any new gear or specific techniques. You may even want to check the various manufacturer’s web sites. Lots of tips can be found there. These are the professionals – they make it their business to make you a better angler.

The next one was “logging-it”. Most anglers don’t have time to jot specific notes or keep a log about the day’s fishing trip. At the end of the day, it’s all we can do to clean and organize our gear. Added time if you need to clean your catch.  Some cases, you may have to add boat maintenance.  But if you don’t document it, the information won’t be there when you need it.

The best way to increasing your success rate, is logging your trips. Not just important but basically imperative.  Other reports can be a ‘guess-estimate” or second or third hand information. Your log is real data. Can’t get any better than that.

It is extremely simple to create your own log or purchase one already designed for the type of fishing you do. If neither of these work. Email me and I will send you a copy of my log. Not sophisticated but it has worked for me for years.

Rods and reels are the most important part of your fishing system. Hopefully, these were not overlooked. These need to be checked, cleaned and stored in a location away from harm. If not, there is still time to do the maintenance.

Remember even a small defect in your rod or reel could cause you to lose your trophy catch. So check your rod and reels closely and don’t skimp here when maintenance or repair is needed.

Finally, you need to organize your gear. Remove everything from your box/bag and lay it out on the table. Place the defective or rusty items in one place and the good ones in another. I separate hooks, leaders, bottom rigs and other odd size items in plastic zip lock bags. Everything else goes in the see-thru plastic trays. If needed, replace the old plastic lure boxes with new ones. Final thing to check your pliers and other tools. If you find them rusty or defective, now is the time to replace them.

That first run of spring species is just around the corner. Take the time now. The fish are heading our way.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing the Florida Keys on Foot

Fishing on foot in the Florida Keys gives the angler many different opportunities to experience a unique fishery not found anywhere else. The Florida Keys boast over forty-two bridges with casting platforms and over a hundred miles of easily accessible shoreline where the angler can try their luck. And occupying these venues, anglers will find hundreds of different species of fish resulting in no shortage of saltwater targets.

Fishing on foot is one of the easiest and most popular type of fishing in the Keys. And even though it doesn’t require any special gear, the angler should be prepared for many unforeseen hazards before venturing out to any of these locations.

Anglers should use the same planning scheme when fishing in the Keys as they would in their home waters. They should become familiar with bag and creel limits and any special regulations applicable to the new area.

Bridges and elevated platforms offer the best opportunity for angling success. Moving water attracts many species of fish close to these structures in search of bait. And the tremendous amounts of water flow between the Florida Bay and Atlantic Ocean during the changing tides makes for a hot bed for both predator and prey.

Coral rock and rubble often line the base of many bridges and abutments adding to the turbulence.

These structures can also provide safety for many species but unfortunately add to the frustration when anglers cast too close and get caught in the debris.

This chaotic configuration of structures and easy access makes for the “perfect storm” resulting in an outstanding fishery.

Shorelines and rock seawalls also offer a similar opportunity to catch fish. Sandy bottoms and grass flats can extend hundreds of yards out from the water’s edge. Many bait fish will find protection in both the grass flats and under the thick shoreline vegetation. Both small and larger species can be found searching these areas for food. So anglers should focus their attention on areas that include both distance and close proximity to the shoreline.

Occasionally, anglers may want to wade into the flats but extreme caution should be taken if they are not completely familiar with the area. Swift water and deep holes can cause the angler to lose their footing and fall into the water

So regardless of whether the angler chooses a bridge or shoreline, they will experience nature at its finest. Most anglers typically catch something, others are lucky enough to catch dinner and a select few may catch that trophy where memories are made from.

One note of caution – The Keys is an open wildlife preserve with many wild creatures. These creatures make dens around many of the bridge abutments, the rock jetties and the mangrove shorelines. Extreme care should always be taken to keep your distance from any wildlife.

Shortly, we will be discussing which gear and various techniques that work best on bridges and shorelines. So check back soon.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing Gear Maintenance

Maintaining your fishing gear on a regular basis ensures that it will be ready to fish when you are. Salt water and corrosion are the biggest enemies and without proper care will result in a shorter life span. So it’s important to take the time to do regular maintenance on all your fishing gear.

An annual checkup of your gear is time well spent. During this check, all parts of your fishing gear and equipment should be cleaned thoroughly, inspected and any defective or worn items replaced.

Most rods and reels are built strong but if one or more components are neglected or damaged, your catch can be compromised and possibly lost. We are already aware that these units should have off season maintenance but what about the other equipment and assorted gear?

Many types of lures and hard bait hooks may not survive more than a year so close focus on these items is imperative. Rusty rings, tangled lines or damaged components can result in potential loss of the catch. Sometimes it’s cheaper of replace the entire lure unless it’s your ‘go-to” catching machine. Then it’s easy to replace the hooks and rings.

Tackle boxes and bags get habitually get cluttered over the season with many of those “have to have” gadgets and “favor of the month” lure.

Your best option is empty the bag, sort through what’s salvageable and toss the rest.

Sinkers, lose terminal tackle, swivels, extra leader materials should be placed in separate containers for easy access next season.  Pliers, scissors, line cutters, fish grabbers should be cleaned or at least organized in its proper place. Remove all batteries on any electronic gear such as bait bubblers, night lights and bug zappers.

Knives should be cleaned, sharpened, oiled and placed in a sheaths for protection.

Large items such as coolers, cast nets, pier carts, cutting boards, rod holders and other large pieces need a good flushing, wiped off and stored properly.

Finally, all metal surfaces should be coated with a rods, reels or other gear with an anti-corrosion protectant.

Remember, the off season is the best time to find and replace a worn or defective gear or equipment.

Because most anglers have their own special fishing collections, I am sure we missed something but that what the off season is for. Finding those issues before they cost you that trophy species next year.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony