On the Outer Banks, the fishing doesn't stop just because the weather has cooled down. Some of the best fishing on the Outer Banks occurs during the fall and winter months.
According to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, fishermen land more large striped bass in North Carolina during the winter than in any other state. After major stock declines in the past, Outer Banks striper populations have soared in recent years. In the past few years, trophy sized stripers have been common.
To protect our populations of striped bass, there are some strict regulations on fishing season, size and bag limits and where you can fish. Make sure you check the current regulations for North Carolina striper fishing. And remember you must have the appropriate North Carolina fishing license unless you are on a pier or charter boat.
Striped bass (Morone saxatilis also known as striper, rockfish or rock) are migratory fish and they are aggressive and predatory (which makes for fun fishing ... no guessing whether this fish is on the line because it just attacks.) In spring, striped bass migrate from the ocean into the Roanoke River basin to spawn. See freshwater fishing for more information.
If you are new to fishing or are fishing with children in your family, Outer Banks headboats are a great way to fish and spend some family time on the water. Headboats—named as such because you pay “per head” and also sometimes called “party boats” —offer an economical, although less specialized fishing. Outer Banks headboats generally take out 40-50 people at a time on half-day trips. They fish in the calmer waters of the sounds and inlets and provide all your bait, tackle and rods. You do not need a fishing license to fish on a headboat.
Fishing piers are a dying breed in many coastal areas. We are fortunate on the Outer Banks to have six public fishing ocean piers and several sound piers. So wherever you are vacationing on the Outer Banks, there is a pier nearby.
Pier fishing is a great way to fish whether you are a beginner or an old salt. Piers are also a great place to learn. Stop by a pier and ask the folks fishing what you’ll need and what you should know or stop by the pier tackle shop and get rigged up for some fun fishing and time on the water.
Surf fishing on the Outer Banks is a fun, affordable way to fish from Corolla to Ocracoke. You can step out on the beach in front of your cottage or hotel. You can park at one of our many beach access areas and be fishing in minutes. You can take your 4WD to open access areas and back right to the surf.
If you are new to the sport, you may want to consider a surf fishing class.
Fish you can catch in the Outer Banks surf include pompano, croaker, grey trout, speckled trout, spot, sea mullet, red drum, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, striped bass and flounder. Make sure you have a coastal fishing license and obey the rules for sizes and limits.
There is a big difference between crabbing for fun and crabbing for a living. We are only going to discuss crabbing for fun. Do not tamper with or use crab pots you find while fishing. Crabbers who work hard for a living own and work these crab pots. At best you’ll get a fine, you could get shot (kidding … sort of).
If you’ve ever been fishing in the sound, very likely you have caught a crab even if you were trying for something else. They will steal your bait and you will feel like you have a nice one on the line only to discover it’s a crab. They will usually drop off before you get them in the boat so no worries about how to pull them off your line.
How to Catch Crabs (the good way)
Atlantic Blue Crabs are caught on the Outer Banks during the warmer months and it’s an inexpensive activity for the whole family. Kids and families really enjoy crabbing plus you’re enjoying the water, having a little back to nature lesson and you can catch your dinner (or just enjoy the experience and let the crabs go back in the water).