Fall Fishing in North Carolina

Outer Banks
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For classic sport fishing, look no further than the Outer Banks, a string of barrier islands that stretch along the state's northern and central coastline. Over half of North Carolina's saltwater sport-fishing records have been set in these waters—and records are made to be broken. Book a charter boat or claim a spot on the more affordable "headboats" (each person pays by the head) to experience the "Billfish Capital of the World." Out in the warm Gulf Stream waters, early fall will find anglers playing catch-and-release with the aggressive, high-flying billfish—blue marlin will still be biting, while white marlin and sailfish peak in August and September. About 37 miles off the Outer Banks lies the Point, a popular offshore destination that teems year-round with gamefish such as yellowfin, bigeye, and blackfin tuna. Through late October, on inshore trips in the Ocracoke Island area, you can enjoy casting for and catching Spanish mackerel.

Taking a mobile, light-tackle boat into the sound side of the barrier islands is another must-do—choose from the Pamlico, Croatan, Albemarle, or Roanoke Sounds. In these shallower waters, anglers vie for prized gamefish throughout the fall, from speedy king mackerel and big bluefish to fickle cobia and opportunistic amberjack.

Contact information:
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, 800-446-6262

Although the thrill of the catch is sport enough for most anglers, some friendly competition can make a nice addition. North Carolina's Crystal Coast (the Cape Lookout region of the southern Outer Banks) hosts numerous fishing tournaments, including one of the largest king mackerel tournaments in the U.S. This tourney is to be found in the town of Atlantic Beach come September, and the Atlantic Beach Surf Fishing Tournament follows in mid-October. Reel in a whopper of a kingfish, puppy drum, or flounder, and you may win a whopping cash prize.

Contact information:
Crystal Coast Tourism Authority, 800-786-6962
Atlantic Beach Surf Fishing Tournament, 800-622-6278


Published: 30 Aug 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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