Outer Banks Surf Fishing Species

View of the along the coastline beach of Outer Banks at Carolina

Casting a line in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is worth your effort if you are craving a fresh catch. The Outer Banks surf fishing could take over 100 miles without a cost.

Live bait and a surf rod or rod holder are the basics when surf fishing. There is unlimited fishing opportunity awaits you at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The area is teeming with marine life, like fishes, shrimps, and crabs.

All types of fishing are in the Outer Banks, such as offshore and inshore charter fishing, deep-sea fishing, brackish, pier, and surf fishing. Bring your fresh catch to the nearby restaurant, and the chef is ready to cook it for you.  

If you are a surf caster, you can drive to the beach in the area. Ensure that you are well-informed of some restrictions as the place is wildlife protected. Pier fishing is ideal in the piers of Hatteras and Kill Devil Hills. The peak season for pier and surf fishing happens in May and November after it starts in March.

Land-based game fishing offers a variety of fish species in the Outer Banks. You don’t have to exert much effort in wading to the surf area, as the fish easily clings to the bait. 

13 Common Fish Species along Outer Banks

Here is a list of common fish species to catch on the shoreline.  

1) Black Drum

Commonly called a drum, this fish is excellent for your health because it is not oily. Scales of big drums take extra effort to remove. They are so tough. Surfcasters use an electric knife to cut them into fillets.  

The limits for this fish are 14 to 25 inches. It has a bag limit of ten per day. Surf anglers catch them in estuaries, bays, and near the channels. They can go as deep as 100 feet in offshore waters and beachfront.

2) King Mackerel

King Mackerel is also known as King Fish and King. The catch limit is 24 inches long minimum and a bag limit of three each day. Use a medium-heavy surf fishing rod of seven feet in length to reel and catch the fish. This fish bites humans if necessary when they sense threats.

3) Weakfish 

Weakfish are hard to hook as they are aloof. The fish spit the hook with their fragile mouths. This type of fish thrives in a water temperature from 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They breed actively during this period, which is the best time to catch them.

4) Red Drum

Red Drum is also known as Channel Bass, Puppy Drum, and Redfish. The catch limits are 18 inches to 27 inches long and a bag limit of one per day. Redfish eat smaller fish, crabs, worms, clams, and shrimp. These bottom-feeders have moderate flavors when cooked. Cleaning them is tricky because their large scales are tough. The mature fish spawn along the shorelines from mid-August until mid-October.

5) Bluefish

Bluefish are expensive fish that gets rancid if not placed in the fridge after catching. The fish reproduce during summer and spring. Hunting the fish is best during peak season, from March to November. Bluefish lurk off piers and coastlines.

6) Gulf Flounder

This fish species is also known as flounder. Learning to understand the behavior is the key to catching the fish. Flounders usually swim in certain spots on the Outer Banks. The fish is known as ambush predators. They hide in the sand to wait for prey. Surf fishers use dead fish or live bait to hook the fish. 

Clams and shrimps make perfect bait for flounders. They will come out from the sand once they see the live bait. Jigging and spearfishing are also effective in catching the flounders.

7) Croaker

Croakers are known as pinfish, hardhead fish, and kingfish. There are no limits to catching them. Fall, spring, and summer are the best time to hunt the croaker and flounder. You can reel the fish from the pier or beach as both are bottom feeders. The fish tastes good after cooking.

8) Sheepshead

Sheepshead is often mistaken for Black Drum. The catch limit is 10 inches long minimum and a bag limit of ten per day. Catch the fish using a small hook as they love to steal baits. Sheepshead hides in rocky bottoms, pilings of piers, and bridges.

9) Sea Mullet

Sea Mullet is also known as Black Mullet, King Mullet, Grey Mullet, Bully Mullet, and Common Mullet. Sea Mullets are easy to reel as they frequent the beach and piers. The roe is excellent in making specialty food. Surfcasters use the smaller fish for baits.

10) Cobia

Cobia is expensive as it makes an excellent meal. Catch the fish during summer when they weigh 30 to 60 pounds.

11) Spanish Mackerel

This fish is also known as Spotted Mackerel and Horse Mackerel. The catch limit is 12 inches long, and the daily limit is 15 per day. The Spotted Mackerel is easy to catch from late May until early September. You have to handle the fish with care due to its sharp teeth.

12) Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass is also known as Blackfish and thrives over the rocky substrates and rock jetties in shallow waters. The catch limit in Northern Cape Hatteras is 12.5 inches long and has a bag limit of fifteen per day. The catch limit in South of Cape Hatteras is 13 inches long minimum and a bag limit of seven per day.

13) Striped Bass

Striped Bass hides in freshwater, but as they get older, they live in saltwater. They reproduce in fall and winter. The best time to catch them is from November to December. Striped Bass has a mild flavor when cooked.

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