When we think of fishing on the Outer Banks, most anglers focus on our saltwater sounds and ocean. But there is another fishery that mirrors this vast area just to the west of the Atlantic.
I discovered that fresh water fishing is huge in our local waters.
I have been strictly a saltwater angler for most of my fishing career. But last weekend I had an opportunity to try something different. A throw back to my early years when I fished many of the local fresh water community ponds and lakes.
I belong to the Outer Banks Anglers Club and last weekend they held atheir annual catfish tournament.
Catfish are an extremely hearty species so they tolerate both fresh and brackish water. I had heard that they can also be caught in water with a slight increase of salinity. Many of our waters combine salt, fresh and brackish.
Being a student of saltwater angling, I had minimal exposure to fresh water fishing so I knew my work was cut out for me.
I began my research on catching catfish on the internet. This resource was helpful but it focused more on lakes and rivers. Unfortunately, the Outer Banks doesn’t have many bodies of water that are like those inland ones.
After much searching, I began to put together a plan where and how to catch catfish. Basically, we needed to use a substantial rod and reel, good test line and proper type hooks. So I choose a six-one half foot rod, heavy reel and line and topped it with a medium circle hook. The tournament called for a live release so the circle hook would help with this requirement.
But one problem still existed. Which bait should I use?
The inland lakes and rivers have plenty of bottom dwellers and bait stealers but none like ours. The Outer Banks have an abundant blue crab fishery.
I had to find a bait that caught catfish but did not interest the blue crab.
More research lead me to chicken livers. I recall many years ago, fishing with my Dad that livers were always the ticket.
Now I am ready.
On the day of the tournament we had from sunrise until mid-afternoon to fish.
At first light, we found a quiet canal, baited the hooks and waited. Within minutes, we had our first “catfish”. It was huge and hard to land. Once in the bucket we focused on how to keep it alive for seven hours. Our live bait bubbler in a cooler would do the trick. Several more fish were landed. We had successful day. Now – how would we measure up to the other seasoned catfish anglers?
The day went fast and soon it was weigh-in time. Our fish came in second with a 2 pound 14 ounce beauty. Not bad for beginners.
To things got hooked that day: that second place catfish and me. After this great experience, I plan to continue exploring more local fresh water locations for fishing.
So if you are looking for a change from saltwater fishing, don’t overlook this fishery. If you are like me, you might find this hidden jewel.
And yes, our big catfish was released alive.
Until next time – Tightlines – Captain Tony