Surf Fishing is Fun

Summer is here and what better way to enjoy the Outer Banks by trying surf fishing.

Fishing on the surf is one of the most relaxing and least expensive activities you can do at the beach and it can be fun for the entire family. All you need is a simple saltwater rod, reel and several items to enjoy this hobby.

The first thing you want to do is research the regulations. Make sure you know the limits of any species you catch. Also, you may need a license to fish on our beaches. Licenses and rules can be obtained at any local tackle shop. Tackle shops are the new (and experienced) angler’s best friend.

Next is selecting the spot on the beach. I always check with other local anglers or tackle shops for this information. They can usually point you in the right direction. But basically, any spot on our beach will hold fish.

Like any sport, you will need specific gear. These items will include a good medium seven rod and reel set up, a bottom rig, package of hooks, several different size sinkers and bait. If you don’t have your own rod and reel set up, a complete package can be purchased any tackle supply shop.

The standard rod and reel from a tackle shop will already be rigged with line. You will attach the bottom rig to the line. You can either tie the rig directly to the line or tie a snap swivel to the line first and then hook the rig to this connector. A snap swivel allows for a quick change over if you need to replace the bottom rig.

Next you want to install the hooks. Number four or six size hooks work fine. I slide the loop end of the hook line over the bottom rig loop and slip the hook through the bottom rig loop. This creates a strong connection. A sinker is attached to the bottom of the rig. I carry different size sinkers and attach the lightest one that will allow me to hold the bottom.

Bait is the most important component. I use fresh shrimp or fish bites. Do not peel the shrimp; just place a small piece on each hook. Sometimes, I insert a small quarter inch piece of a fish bite over the hook after the shrimp. This keeps the shrimp on the hook and prevents smaller fish from stealing the bait before a larger fish eats it. Remember – the fresher the bait – the better the chance for success.

Most bottom fish can be found within fifteen feet of our shore line. So cast just over the waves. Let the bait sit on the bottom and wait for the bite. The bite feels like a tap tap tap. When you feel the bite, just raise your rod tip and reel in. If your line moves on the bottom, change to the next size up sinker.

It’s that simple.

So the next time you have a little free time and want to learn a new hobby – take up fishing on our coast. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors and our beautiful beaches.

One final tip – release all fish carefully that you are not going to keep the fish so it can be caught again

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Tides Make a Difference

Tides have a major influence on whether you catch fish or not. It’s the tides that help create ideal conditions for fish to feed. And if the angler is present during these times, their chances improve.

As a rule, most anglers prefer to fish on the high or low tides. And frequently, anglers will also monitor sun and moon phases but it’s the tides that brings them out. But it’s the specific part of these tides that make all the difference.

Let’s take a closer look at why you too should consider following the tides.

Ocean tides occur up to four times per twenty-four hour period – two high and two low. The tide phases are influenced by a number of conditions but mostly the moon.  Frequently, we hear that it’s best to fish on the exact full or new moon or on the top of the high or low tide because in theory that’s when the bite is on.

Well, this is only partially correct. Let’s take a closer look at how the tides affect the bite.

First, a little background – when the high and low tide are at their peaks, the water is slack and not moving unless there is outside influence such as wind. And second, when the tide is between the high and low, this is where a significant water movement can occur between the two tide phases.

Now, let’s break down one side of a tide. At the highest phase of high tide the water is slack. As the tide begins to fall, water starts to move toward the low tide phase. As the level continues to fall, this tide or water begins to pick up speed until it reaches a certain point usually two thirds into this phase at which the water begins to slow again to a slack phase.  Then the process starts again but in reverse.

So let’s do an example to help find the best time to fish. Let’s start with high tide at 600am and the low tide at 1200 noon. The tide is slack at 600 and with gravitational influence the water level or tide begins to fall. As the tide continues to fall, it will pick up speed typically around 0730 and continue to increase flow or speed until 1030. At this point the tide begins to lose its force and between 1030 and 1200 noon the tide slows and finally is slack again.

As you can see in this example, the fastest moving water and the best times to fish is approximately 1-1/2 hours after high and before low tide. Other times work too, but for increased success pick these. These three hours are the key!!

Remember, there are many other conditions that can influence the bite. Water movement is just one. Monitoring water temperature, seasonal migration and barometer can also improve your success.

But reviewing tide phase should always be part of your fishing trip preparation.

So the next time you pick up a local tide chart – do some homework and you might just catch some more fish.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony  

OBX Fishcast

New Episodes of OBX Fishcast are posted each Friday at noon.


Created By Jody O’Donnell

“OBX Fishcast” is an in depth look at the week of fishing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and a peak at what to expect in the near future. 

Easy access to this podcast can be found in the Walkingangler links section.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Doing the “Jig” Thing

Fishing with a lead jig head and soft plastic lure is one of the most popular methods of fishing on the Outer Banks. You will find anglers on the piers, bridges and even the surf utilizing this simple technique.

Jigging is the practice of retrieving a lead jig head with an attached soft plastic through the water at varying directions and speeds. And depending on the size and shape of the jig, the angler can cover vast amounts of water and all levels of the water column quickly. Additionally, by covering more area, this technique increases the chance for success.

The “jigging” method is designed to mimic a bait fish that may be struggling in the current. Two methods of jigging are a slow and steady retrieval speed with an occasional pause or intermittent pull, pull, pause. Either, initiates an aggressive strike. And during the pause phase that most strikes and hookups occur.

The jigging method can increase the success rate when the angler focuses on three important phases: the action, sound and vibrations, and smell and scent.

Jig head and soft plastic action is the most important. The speed or erratic behavior of jig head and soft plastic can quickly attract the attention of a target species. A hungry speckled trout or puppy drum can sense a struggling or wounded bait fish by its erratic movements. A slow moving bait can also be an easy prey for a waiting fish.

Sounds or noise from a lead head pushing through the water or different configurations of the soft plastic can cause a significant vibration. Sound and vibration can travel great distance under water so any unusual sound will get the attention of a searching species.

Soft plastic bodies are designed to make specific sounds by the each manufacturer. For example, swim baits create a drumming sound as the paddle tail swings in the current. Twister tail plastics cause a high pitch tin-like sound. And a finesse plastics will give off a swishing sound. Each soft plastic has their own specific sounds when dragged through the water. So the angler should select the specific soft plastic body for each targeted species.

Finally, selecting the proper scent or favor for the soft plastic body needs to correspond with the specific bait fish in the water. Fish have a tremendous ability to smell. And they can sense a fish scent dozens of yards away. So when choosing a soft plastic always select one with the scent that is imbedded into the bait. Adding an after-market scent can also provide that smell although plastics designed with scent will retain that scent longer.

The key to successful jigging is to select the proper lead jig head action for the specific area and depth you are fishing. Select the soft plastic that can give off the right sound and vibration. Also very important for the angler to vary their retrieval rate frequently. And finally, make sure your soft plastic bait has the same scent as the other bait fish in the water.

Remember – when handling scented soft plastic baits, make sure your hands are clean. Don’t allow any body oils and suntan lotion get on you soft plastics. Any foreign substance may compromise your ability to fool your target.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Measure It Right

Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff of summer fishing. Most Anglers may not be familiar with the local bag and creel limits for the many fresh and saltwater species.

Please “carefully” release all undersize fish and those you don’t plan to harvest.

Remember this important tip:

”Its not what the angler measures, it’s what the marine fisheries officer measures!”

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt.Tony

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