The Outer Banks refers to a grouping of islands off the coast of North Carolina in the Atlantic Ocean, a popular spot for fabulous fishing. Historically, the area is well-known for the infamous Roanoke Island, where colonists vanished without a trace in 1587. The Wright brothers also made their first flight near Kitty Hawk in 1903.
Fishing in the Outer Banks can be done in many ways: from the beach, using one of many fishing piers along the coast, or by chartering a boat to take you out into the waters. There are many species of fish you might reel in, depending on the time of year, including:
- Spanish mackerel
- Sea Mullet (also called King Mullet)
If you want to fish off the Outer Banks, you’ll need to get what’s called a coastal fishing license, which allows for fishing in coastal or joint fishing waters. This license is not good for freshwater inland fishing. The exception to this is for kids under 16 or those fishing from charter boats.
A 10-day coastal fishing license for North Carolina residents is $5 ($10 if you’re a non-resident). For a yearly license, residents pay $15, while non-residents are charged $30. These licenses can be purchased online (check the Division of Marine Fisheries website) or by visiting any number of tackle and bait shops in and around the Outer Banks.
Deciding on How to Fish
There are several different ways to fish the Outer Banks, and your success will vary due to location, weather, and time of year.
All along the coasts of the Outer Banks are expansive beaches, where it’s easy to simply cast a line out into the water. This is the most popular way to fish, as there are plenty of beaches to choose from.
It’s recommended to have a surfing rod. It casts a longer line and is more durable for the ocean currents and waves. Bait will depend on what you’re fishing for. Local tackle shops are more than happy to point you in the right direction.
You might want to check out some of the different hot spots in the area. Some of these locations offer good fishing all year round. These are:
- Cape Point – This is a point where two major Atlantic currents come together, and is a great location for fishing, especially in September and October.
- The Hook – About 100 yards south of Cape Point, this location offers comparable fishing.
- Inlets – There are many inlets around the islands for great fishing, including the Oregon Inlet and newly created Irene’s Inlet.
All around the outer banks are fishing piers. No matter where you’re staying, you’ll find a pier within walking distance.
Fishing piers have their own ‘license’, so you don’t have to have your own coastal fishing license if you use one of these locations. They do charge a small admission fee.
Here’s a list of some of the popular fishing piers:
- Avalon Fishing Pier – One of the oldest fishing piers, it’s located in Kill Devil Hills. It has a tackle shop and is open seasonally 24 hours a day.
- Nags Head Pier – Also an old pier, it offers a restaurant and tackle shop and is open seasonally 24 hours a day.
- Jennette’s Pier – Originally dated to 1939, this pier is recently remodeled and is a partner with the North Carolina Aquarium, with exhibits and fun stuff for the kids.
- South Nags Head Pier – This is a quieter location with a restaurant and tackle shop. It’s open seasonally 24 hours a day.
- Hatteras Island Pier – Offers a small tackle shop, a game room, and a great view of the ocean.
- Avon Pier – Open seasonally, it provides a tackle shop and gift shop.
Charter and Deep Sea Fishing
Chartering a boat to take you away from the banks is also a great way to fish the Outer Banks. They’ll leave early in the morning to take advantage of the best fishing times. Peak times are July through August, so if you want to charter, make sure to book far in advance!
Many charters will also clean and package your catch.
No matter which route you choose, be it on the beach, pier, or charter fishing, you’re guaranteed to have a great time fishing the Outer Banks.