Can They See You

Most angler’s use the old game of hide and seek when fishing from a shore line or bridge. Most times without even recognizing that they are doing it.

Hide and seek is a popular kids game where they attempt to conceal themselves from being seen or heard. The goal of the game is to be the last player found.

Anglers frequently use the same skills of hide and seek. An angler who stands out on a bridge or shoreline with bright clothing, erratic movements or makes noise not natural to the area is sure to spook an already skittish target. So being stealth is the ticket for improved success.

Most targeted fish have tremendous eyesight and other senses that will warn them that danger is close. Anglers should keep this in mind when planning their next fishing trip, selecting a location or even what prey they plan to target.

Clothing is the first line of hide and seek. Wearing a contrasting shirt color against either a bright or cloudy day can warn the fish that some type of danger is present. So anglers should try to avoid standing out from the background.

A good rule is “If the sky is a bright blue, your shirt color should blue”. Similarly, if there is an overcast day, your shirt color should match as close to the background as possible. In this case, your clothing could be pale or light grey.

But what about partly sunny or clouds, colors should be neutral or natural. The best rule to follow is use only colors that are not bright or result in the angler to standing out.

Erratic angler movement can also influence a targeted prey to flee. When fishing on a bank or other structure, the angler’s movement is probably just as important as camouflage clothing. Trees or other vertical structures do not move erratically unless there is wind or significant weather condition.

Fish can sense the surrounding weather conditions including wave action, wind and other environmental influences, so they will know what is unnatural. Anglers should limit their movement to a minimum.

Unnatural sounds are also a component of stealth. Noise and unusual sounds that are not typically found in a specific location, such as loud voices, dropping gear, banging rods against railings or other such noises put up a warning. Unusual noise, banging of gear or even some levels of voices can be heard and possibly felt for some distance under the water.

Being stealth and using good camouflaging techniques will give you a significant advantage. Smart anglers consider these techniques as well as many others when trying to avoid being detected.

So next time you visit your neighborhood tackle shop, look a little closer in the camouflage section.

You might just find the color that can help improve your catches.

Until next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony

Pier Fishing Basics

Fishing on one of the seven Outer Banks Piers is safe and enjoyable for the entire family. Most piers have ample parking, tackle supplies and food and beverage concessions. They will also rent you equipment and supply you with everything you need to fish.

There are four things I recommend you do after you arrive at the pier but before you start fishing. The four things are: “Homework”, “Observe”, “Ask” and “Try”.

“Homework” is researching the most recent fishing activity. Your findings will include, what has been caught recently and using what bait. Where is the best action? Do you have the proper gear and rigging? What are the tides and other weather conditions? There are many other considerations that both the pier staff and tackle shop professionals can help with.

“OBSERVE” is the next thing – once on the pier try to watch what other anglers are doing. Are they casting or just dropping the baits.  What type of equipment or gear are they using? What type rig or bait are they using and are they successful with that method. Spending several minutes can save much time and help avoiding that learning curve.

“ASK” is the next thing I do. Ask the other anglers what they are catching. What type of bait or rig works best? Your best bet for success is to copy what the others are doing.

“TRY” is the final step. Try out the information you received.  Work the pier is some type of order. I start on one side and typically close in. I work my way out to the deeper water. Each time I move, I watch the other anglers.  I follow the end of the pier. I then will either switch over the other side or just move close in and begin my journey from close in to the end of the pier.

Keys to success on the pier is moving around to find fish. If you don’t catch something right away or after a short period – Move. I will move many times both out and back and switching sides occasionally. 

There are many reasons you will not be successful on a fishing pier. But none is more damaging than using “DEAD BAIT”. What do I mean about using dead bait – its’ bait that is days old or allowed to sit in the sun and “cook”. Air dried and stale bait will turn off the fish quickly Keep your bait in the shade or better yet, in a cooler. Remember – Fresh bait has a natural scent and catches more fish.

When using fresh bait, always buy the best whether it’s shrimp, squid or blood worms.

Using the proper gear and equipment for the various seasons can mean the difference between success and failure. Medium to heavy gear in spring and fall and lighter gear in summer.

Sharp hooks and good rigging make for quick hook ups. A variety of sinkers will hold the bottom during different conditions.

Angler safety is also imperative. Dress for the conditions. Sun screen is needed year round. Bringing plenty of fluids and snacks make for an enjoyable day.

A cooler with plenty of ice will keep any fish you plan to harvest. Also, try to practice “CPR” – that is Catch, Photo and Release!!

So keep it simple and pier fishing will help create memories that last a lifetime.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Fishing the Wash. Baum Bridge

There are many places to fish on the Outer Banks but none better than the pier under the Washington Baum Bridge. This dock is a favorite for both locals and visitors. Most days throughout the summer and fall, you will find scores of anglers lining the railings.

The pier is located on U.S. Hwy 64 just under the western end of the bridge. The pier along with one of the finest small boat ramps can be easily accessed at the light past the western end of the bridge and just across from the entrance of the Pirates Cove Marina.

Anglers use the side road that parallels with the highway to access the area and then follow this road toward the ramp. The pier is located on the left. In addition to the easy access, there are more than 50 parking spots, toilet facilities and sloped ramp that help those with limited mobility to access the pier.

The pier is several hundred feet long with plenty of benches and the best “fish railings”. The entire area is family friendly and a great place to spend the day either catching dinner or just enjoying the outdoors.

Fishing is very good here with many species seeking safety under and around the pilings. Anglers frequently catch croakers, spot, and black drum and keeper flounder, speckled trout, and occasional puppy drum. It is not unusual to catch under-slot stripers all year but the best catches of keeper Stripe Bass are in the cooler fall months.

Anglers will typically use light tackle 6-7 foot rods with either two hook bottom rigs or a Carolina rig with cut bait, blood worms, fresh shrimp or Fish Bites. Don’t oversize your hooks especially in summer. Squid is an effective bait for flounder but it also seems to attract crabs.

There is a deep slough just north of the pier that holds plenty of fish. But only a strong cast can reach those holes. It’s best to focus under the pier and just a dozen yards out.

You should avoid the south side unless you are fishing the water surface. During the bridge construction much of the rubble and left over debris was stacked on that side. So unless using a popping cork or jigging, it’s smart to stay on the north side.

Another favorite fishing spot is at the eastern most end. Anglers who cast toward the huge bridge bumpers can catch larger species that travel along the faster currents.

Overall this pier has been a favorite spot to fish for both novice and seasoned anglers for years. It’s the go-to-place when anglers need a change of pace or to get away from the hot summer sun.

Fishing licenses are required to fish on this pier so check with your tackle shop before you go. Also, follow the bag and creel limits. Only harvest what you can use.

So if you are looking for a place to spend the day, discover this pier for your next outing. You won’t be disappointed.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Is it time to fake it?

Artificial baits continue to revolutionize catching fish but none as innovative as Fish Bites. Fresh and live baits are still the best way to catch fish but anglers are finding many advantages of using this new synthetic bait either alone or in conjunction with other baits.

Fish Bites are a synthetic bait that uses a new technology to help the angler catch more fish.

The Fish Bite bait consists of a mesh “skelton” surrounded by a hardened but still flexible gel that has a flesh-like texture. It has been infused with a powerful flavor/scent technology that helps attract fish to the bait. Once in the water, the Fish Bite bait begins to slowly dissolve releasing this powerful scent that can drive most species to feed aggressively.

Fish Bites are found either pre-cut or in long strips. Pre-cut pieces work as packaged but some anglers will modify them to fit a particular application.

Fish Bites are manufactured in either standard or longer lasting. Each has their own purpose.

The standard type will disperse a powerful scent quickly once it comes in contact with water. The purpose of this type is to quickly put lots of scent in the water all at once.  This rapid release will attract fish in the surrounding area. Although extremely effective, the standard type dissolves quickly and needs to be replaced soon.

The second type is longer lasting. The longer lasting type also releases the scent in the water but at a slower pace. One advantage of the longer lasting is that it will hold on the hook longer.

Because fish bites contain such a powerful attractant, many anglers use them to dress other lures such as fresh bait or other artificial soft plastics. They will either attach a small piece or an entire strip to enhance the scent and action of their jig head or other lure.

Another advantage of using Fish Bites is that they come in convenient packages and doesn’t need refrigeration.

Fresh, natural and live baits are still the “go-to” baits for most anglers. They catch fish but if you are adventurous, the fish Bite artificial bait is a great addition to your arsenal.

Some anglers are reluctant to try something new but this is one bait that must be in their tackle bag.  So next time you question the price and benefit of fresh and natural baits, try Fish Bites. You won’t be disappointed.

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

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