Fishing in Hatteras, NC
Fishing on the Outer Banks NC is a way of life, especially on Hatteras Island. With a little more than 50 miles of shoreline on the oceanside and soundside of this special barrier island, anglers of any age and experience level can enjoy the fellowship and competition that fishing has to offer. You get a line and I’ll get a pole and together we’ll explore the array of fishing opportunities on Hatteras Island.
Fishing License Requirements
According to the NC Wildlife Department, as of January 1, 2007, any individuals 16 years or older who want to recreationally finfish in any water designated as coastal or joint waters of North Carolina must purchase a NC Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL). Children under 16 are exempt. There are two other exemptions in which a blanket license is in place and a CRFL license is not needed:
- An individual fishing from a charter boat; and
- An individual fishing from a pier.
Anglers should know the current marine fisheries regulations, including size and creel limits. Below are the current prices for fishing licenses for NC residents and out-of-state visitors to the Outer Banks.
Annual Coastal Recreational Fishing License
- NC State Residents, age 16 or older – $15
- Non-Residents, age 16 or older – $30
10-day Coastal Recreational Fishing License
- NC State Residents, age 16 or older – $5
- Non-residents, age 16 or older – $10
Visit any bait and tackle shop or pier on Hatteras Island to purchase a fishing license. The staff will also be able to share with you the types of fish that are biting, their approximate location and any impending weather conditions you need to be aware of.
Cape Point – here fishy, fishy, fishy
You may have heard that Hatteras Island, specifically Cape Point, is one of the best locations on the East Coast for fishing. Cape Point’s location is adjacent to Diamond Shoals, the Labrador Current, the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the safe waters of the Pamlico Sound for breeding and where adolescent fish species can mature. This prime location provides different types of fish throughout each season on the Outer Banks NC. The Spring and Fall months enjoy the greatest variety and provide the most record-setting catches in length or weight or both. Here’s a list of the top 15 types of fish that frequent our coastal paradise:
- Sea Mullet
- Blue Fish
- Blow Toads
- Drum – Red, Black and Puppy
- Shark Fish
Two additional fish are caught frequently along Hatteras Island, especially around the piers in Rodanthe and Avon – stingray and skate. They are not much harder to clean than other types of fish. And they are just as delicious! The next time you hook a stingray or skate, consider having them for dinner.
3 Rigs You Need for Surf Fishing
In the August 10, 2013 edition of Popular Mechanics, T. Edward Nickens, suggests the following rod and reel combinations:
- Fishfinder Rig
The bait line slides up and down the main line, allowing live bait to swim freely. That’s crucial for fish that carry their prize some distance before swallowing. Use a circle hook—a hook with the barb bent back toward the shank—and the fish will hook themselves. A bonus: Fish rarely swallow circle hooks, making it easier to release fish and let them live to fight another day.
- Fireball Rig
Brightly colored floats on the dropper lines lift the bait off the sea bottom so it can’t be picked apart by tiny fish and marauding crabs. The fireball rig attracts fish that hunt by sight.
- Double-Drop Bottom Rig
Extend two dropper lines, each tipped with a hook, from the main line. A sinker anchors the rig in place. Some bottom rigs use colored beads, which make them more visible in rough, roily waters. Bait with fresh shrimp or live mole crabs.
Each village on Hatteras Island has at least one bait and tackle shop that can assist you with each of the surf fishing rigs named above. Each shop and pier are staffed with seasoned anglers. They will insure you are using a 10 to 12-foot rod to cast longer into the surf; supply you with fresh bait; and review the tide chart with you, since fish are more active during outgoing and incoming tides.
Hatteras Island offers a variety of fishing charters. Our vacation planners at Shore Details can help find the charter that best suits your family or fishing party. You can choose a half day or full day adventure. Your fishing excursion can be off shore or inshore. The charter can be public or private. The charter boat can be small, medium, large or extra-large! There is truly a fishing charter to fit every request and budget.
Most of the fishing trips offered on Hatteras Island are offshore excursions. Hatteras Village is only 15 miles from the Gulf Stream, making it one of the easiest launching points for offshore fishing. Inshore fishing charters are also available and quite popular due to their lower cost. Local inshore charters can provide customized, family-friendly fishing trips that stick close to shore, target local species, and visit small islands which are locally known for exceptional shelling and clamming.
Fishing – An Outer Banks Tradition
Just as your vacation to Hatteras Island is a tradition, so is fishing on the Outer Banks. Anglers have been visiting here in search of that prize catch for hundreds of years. Whether you stand at the waters edge and cast a line or enjoy a charter boat experience in the Pamlico Sound or the Gulfstream of the Atlantic, there is something special about the feel of a rod and reel in your hands. Hatteras Island is and will continue to be recognized as one of the best fishing vacation destinations along the East Coast. Visit often, cast safely and have fun!