Retrieval and Release

Sixth in a Series – The Retrieval and ReleaseYou are hooked up, now what. You should expect the fish to run and escape. Let them take the line. The fish will tire quickly if the drag is set right and you keep tension on the line. Remember, do not reel in line when they are running. This can cause the fish to break off.

The retrieval requires the angler to pump and reel to keep drawing the fish toward shore. If the fish is taking too much line, slightly adjust the drag to prevent it from being drawn off too fast. Do this tightening slowly. Smoothly raise the rod tip, then lower it while reeling. This is called pumping. You draw the fish nearer with each pump. Pump and reel until the fish tires.

Shortly, you should begin to feel the fish tiring out and the reeling will become easier.  Use the waves to help bring the fish to shore. Stop reeling when an outgoing wave is pulling the fish out. But reel more quickly when the wave is coming toward the shore. Keep the rod tip up and pressure on the fish.

Once on the shore, the fish will continue to fight. I use a wet rag to control the fish to make removing the hook easy. There is a slimy and slippery coating on all fish. They is their protectant against disease. Try to minimize wiping this slippery substance off.

Nylon nets can really damage this protectant. If you need a net, try to use a plastic or vinyl type. And keep them in the net only for little help control them. Remove them quickly to your hand or flat surface.

If you are harvesting this catch, promptly place in a cooler with ice.

If the fish is going to be released, make the fight short. The longer the fight the less likely the fish will survive after its release.

Also when releasing the fish, do so carefully. Hold the fish in your hand, not vertically but horizontally with your hand supporting it’s belly and then place it in the water, watching for its movement to swim. Keep your hands or rag wet to avoid wiping the protectant, slim or scales off the fish.

Remember to never just throw it back in. A stunned fish is less likely to survive and is easy prey for a passing bird.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony


The Hook Up

Fifth in a Series – The hook up when fishing from the surf can be tricky. There are several key steps that the new angler should keep in mind when fishing from the surf.

It’s all about your sense of touch. When fishing the surf, wave movement and debris can mimic a fish bite. Water movement can pull your bait along as can grass or other debris and sometimes this debris or current can simulate a bump or even a bite.

A bite is a distinct single or repeated “bump bump bump”. It could even be a slight pull and pause then pull again. The ability to distinguish between something floating by and a bump and bite can take time but it’s a lesson well learned.

If you can’t tell if it’s a bite or not, leave the line in the water for several minutes and then check your hook and bait.

Setting the hook is the next important part of the catch. And setting the hook improperly can mean the difference of catching or losing the fish. There are many different ways to set the hook. And regardless of your experience level, you need to learn which works for the fish you’re after.

There are two common types of hooks used for surf fishing: “J” hooks and “circle” hooks.

If you are using “J” hooks, you must give a firm pull on the line to pull the hook through the fish lip. Pull too soft, they may spit the hook after they strip the bait, pull too hard, you pull the hook and bait away before they can suck it in.

The best bet for new anglers is to use “circle hooks”. These hooks do all the work for you and the fish actually hooks themselves. (see picture – I am using a circle hook)

Remember, for some fish a heavy pull up on the rod sets the hook: for others, a hard pull yanks the bait from the fish’s mouth.

Next we will discuss the retrieval of a hooked up fish.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Up-welling in Summer

Baby, that water is cold!!

During the summer months, Outer Banks beach visitors may experience a significant change in water temperatures from one day to next.

This phenomenon is known as upwelling. It is typically caused by circular wind motion due to a front from the south west that blows winds along the beach. The steady wind blows the warm summer water out at a diagonal direction which ultimately takes it out to sea. With the warm water now gone, the cold water from the bottom replaces it quickly – thus the sudden decrease in water temperatures from one place on the beach to another. Tides can also aid in replacing the warm water with the cold water. (Double click on picture for water movement).

On the Outer Banks, bathers may feel cold water for hours or days or sometimes longer. And this cold water exchange may be different from one beach area to others along the coast.

If you find yourself in an upwelling situation, either wait it out or move down the beach until you find a warmer spot. Unfortunately, if the wind continues to blow, cold water is here to stay. You may either suffer with the cold water, stay on the beach or find a nice pool.

By the way, fishing is outstanding in areas with upwelling – so grab a rod.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing the Surf

Fourth in a Series – Fishing on the surf is one the most enjoyable pastimes and gives the angler that rare opportunity to enjoy nature at its simplest level.

But many new anglers can become frustrated when using the wrong equipment or fishing at the wrong place or time.

Over the past several weeks, we discussed the various steps that our new angler should incorporate into their mental tackle bag to be more successful fishing on the surf. Now armed with all of the proper gear, fresh bait, and confidence, we are ready to hit the surf.

Casting can be two different styles: precision or search. Either way, these styles gives the angler the best opportunity to locate and catch the fish.

The first style is precision casting. This type designed for the close-in sloughs. Anglers catch most of their fish in this location. Remember, the sloughs are channels of water between the outer bar and the beach (see picture of slough enclosed). To use precision cast, cast the line a short distance into the slough up wind or current at a specific spot. Then let the bait flow slowly along the current. Try to keep the bait near the bottom and moving along the current. This technique should be repeated until you get a bump or strike.

The next style is search or fan casting. And when search casting, we need to picture the hands of a clock in front of us with twelve o’clock straight out front.

Search casting consists of nine locations. The first cast is ten o’clock long, next is 12 o’clock long and finally is 2 o’clock long. Then cast again but now at medium distance at 10 then 12 and 2. The final search cast is now close at 10, 12, and 2.

This style allows the angler to cover vast areas of water. And if fish are present in the area, there is a good chance you will get a strike or a hook up.

Either technique will give the angler an opportunity to catch fish, if they are there. If you don’t feel a bump or strike within 15 minutes using either style, move to another location. And use the same techniques..

Next step is setting the hook and bringing our catch to the beach

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Reading the Beach

Third in a series – Next step for the new angler to find the right location that will hold fish.

The question was “how does a new angler find a good spot to fish on the surf”. Of course, the new angler can just pick any place and cast a line and hope for the best. But their success is hinged more by luck than anything else.

The key for success on the surf is to look for the signs. It is important to keep in mind that signs present now can change by the hour or day. So a consistent review of conditions is imperative for success.

When hitting the beach for the first time, anglers should first focus on the entire picture. Look at everything but mainly focus on the surf zone but more specifically sand formations and waves.

Flat sand beaches can indicate shallow water. On the beach where the sand tapers from a flat surface into the water will indicate a gradual slope. This area will be shallow for some distance.  Some sand formations that include cusps or small hills could indicate a greater slope and deeper water. The deeper water close to shore is better at holding for fish.

Wave action will also give out specific signs. Normally waves form off shore and travel a good distance in and break on the surf. This is a sign that the bottom has a gradual slope for most of the wave set.

The best condition is when the waves break off shore on a bar, taper off and then re-form and break again on the shore. This is a good indication of a slough. Sloughs form between a sand bar and a steep sloping beach. The slough is where most of the fish will be found.

A slough is a channel of moving water that flows parallel along the beach and provides a highway for fish to find food and protection from other prey. This is the best place to find fish.

The final sign is a rip current. A rip current is a rapid outflow channel or river of water. This happens when the waves push too much water onto the beach and there needs to be a way for the excess of water to flow back out to sea. They are easy to spot, look for the rapid out flow current.

So when looking for the best place to fish on the surf, focus on the sloughs, deeper water and rip currents. Remember most fish are within ten feet of the sand. So keep your bait close.

Next time we will talk about when and how to fish the surf.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fritz Boyden Memorial Youth Fishing Tournament 2017

Coming this week on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – The Fritz Boyden Memorial Youth Fishing Tournament.

A great for kids to show off their skills for awards, prizes and lunch.  Registration starts at 0700. Lines in the water at 0800 with lines out at 1200. Lunch and awards at Kelly’s Restaurant at 100 pm.

This is a free event for all kids who are fishing. A sightseeing fee for all those interested in watching these kids show off to the pier regulars.

Mark Twain on Fishing


You see, in our house there was a sort of family prejudice against going fishing if you hadn’t permission. But it would frequently be bad judgment to ask. So I went fishing secretly, as it were–way up the Mississippi.
– Speech by Mark Twain, March 7, 1906 

But Especially – Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.
– More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927


Special Fishing Spot

Many traveling anglers search for that sweet spot where there is easy access, safe for families, surrounded by a beautiful environment and a place where they can regularly catch fish.  Well, there is such a place like that on the Outer Banks.

The “Bebop” Public Multi-use Pier on the western bank of the Old Mann’s Harbor Bridge, just outside Manteo on Rt. 64, is that special spot. So special, that when you visit the pier, it will exceed everyone’s expectations.

The facility was built in remembrance of Betty Dean “Bebop” Fearing, a Dare County local. She enjoyed a life-long love of nature and the outdoors on the Outer Banks. And so after she passed away after a long illness, her family and friends helped create a magnificent memorial to her where locals and visitors can enjoy an easy access to one of her favorite places.  

The pier location splits the Albemarle Sound and Croatan Sound where water flows freely across grass flats and edges and points. Views from the pier are just spectacular of the Albemarle Sound and the surrounding areas. And the local waters hold many species of fish.

Local anglers frequent this pier in the spring and fall in search for prized catches of stripers, puppy drum and sea speckled trout. In the summer, anglers catch large numbers of flounder and croaker in addition to many other local species.

The pier has plenty of parking including for those who have limited mobility. Handrails, railings, and benches are provided for safety and convenience and a covered pavilion will provide shelter from rain or sun. And the entire pier is surrounded by a substantial guardrail to prevent falling into the water.

This area is also a destination for the region’s largest community of purple martins.

So for both anglers, visiting families and anyone who seeks a special sweet spot to enjoy nature, the outdoors for the whole family along with a great opportunity to catch fish, this is the place not to be missed.

Until next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony

Next Step – Tackle Shop

Second in a Series – You arrived on the Outer Banks safely. Your family is settled into their vacation house and kids are on the beach. Now it’s time for you to plan for your first fishing excursion.

You brought your gear from home and plan to save some money and to fish with your “old faithful” rod. Sometimes this technique can result in more frustration and less catches. Other local anglers and I recommend against this.

The first stop for any angler but especially someone new to the area, should be to stop by a local tackle shop for advice and recommendations on the proper gear and equipment. The staff will help determine what rod and reel will work best with the type of fishing you plan to do.

The best start up gear should be a standard medium size rod and reel combination. This set up can be purchased along with a temporary license for less than fifty dollars.

Next, the staff will help you with what’s biting and on which baits. It’s important to follow their suggestions until you have developed your own methods.

Of course, like any hobby, the new angler can fill the trunk with many other items, but really you only need several items to get started. Those items include your rod and reel set up, bait and a small cooler to keep it fresh, small knife, fish gripper, a de-hooker and a rod holder. You might even consider several replacement bottom rigs, various size hooks and sinkers.

Additionally, you might consider obtaining a five gallon bucket to carry your gear. And the bucket can also be used as a seat.

Sure there are other items you could use to make life easy but remember you are just getting started. There is plenty of time for you to experience fishing and then add to your tackle collection as you find things work.

So now you should be knowledgeable enough to start planning your first excursion.

This is part two of the series, “Hey, I am new” and I want to add fishing to my favorite things to do.

Until Next Time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony

Yup – I’m New Here

This time of year, visitors are arriving in the hundreds for vacation on the Outer Banks. Most are looking for their next adventure. For possibly years, fishing has been on their bucket list but really never took the time to explore it.

Now more than ever, visitors are taking that opportunity to experience this rave that is exploding all over the Outer Banks.

Fishing has been just outstanding over the past several months and with so much excitement, many new anglers are jumping into this new hobby.

Starting fresh in fishing can be frustrating for any new angler. Where to go and what to use and more. There are dozens of places who can just “set you up”. But only a few places can actually get you started so that this first experience is rewarding.

A local tackle shops should be your first stop. They can help identify the best rod and reel for your use. Provide you with the proper technique but more importantly the freshest bait. And any tips on special places, times, conditions and the regulations they must follow.

As any novice would do, they may be tempted to fill their basket with many items because they might look good or someone back home told them it works up north so it must work there.

Don’t be fooled. Fish can be found everywhere, but techniques are specific to an area or region. What worked at home or last year, may not work here and now.

Once a new angler gets comfortable with the gear and techniques, they can move on to more advanced levels of fishing. Over time and with little patience, you will become more confident and with confidence will come success.

This is the first of a series, “Hey, I’m New Here”, and I want to go fishing. Check back soon for the next step.

Until next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony