27 Apr 2023
Hatteras Island and the full stretch of land from Nags Head to Ocracoke that makes up Cape Hatteras National Seashore are known around the world for their spectactular fishing locations and regular access to a wide variety of large fish species. In fact, Natioanl Geographic filmed an entire show all about the fishing grounds on the Outer Banks called Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks. But you don't have to be a world-famous charter captain to take advantage of the amazing local currents and pristine conditions that make fishing on Hatteras Island an unforgettable experience. Keep reading for some of our tips and tricks to make the most out of your fishing adventure on Hatteras Island!
Where are the Best Places to Go Fishing on Hatteras Island?
With more than 70 miles of protected sand from South Nags Head to Ocracoke, there are countless places to go fishing along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Below you'll find some of our favorite spots and suggested waterways for getting your best catch. Keep in mind that for areas in the 4WD, you will need a permit before driving on the beach. And don't forget to get your saltwater fishing license (unless you're just going to be fishing on the pier - that will be covered by your entrance fee)!
Cape Point is arguably one of the best spots in the United States for surf fishing. This out-of-the-way beach is the "geographic" center of Hatteras Island and the easternmost beach on the Outer Banks. Because of Cape Point's unique location jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current meet just off the coast. This creates miles of active current and shifting sandbars that attract a wide variety of saltwater fish from both the northern Atlantic and the subtropical waters of the Gulf. For fishermen, this promises a wide variety of fish species in near constant abundance. You will find Cape Point just past the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton where the paved road ends and the 4WD area of the beach begins.
Make your way half a mile pass Hatteras Village, and you'll find the long stretches of beach that border Hatteras Inlet. The beaches on either side of the inlet area great for for surf fishing or kayak fishing in the Pamlico Sound. You can also go by foot out into the sound to see what you can get. Don't forget about crabbing or clamming, as well! You'll have to have a 4WD to get to the Hatteras side of the inlet, but it's well worth the trek. Enjoy some of the abundant fishing brought in by the currents, similar to Cape Point, while taking advantage of the quiet landscape, extra privacy, and unbelievable views. If you'd rather go out into the inlet itself to see what you can catch, inshore charters are available.
Avon Fishing Pier
There are no shortage of piers on the Outer Banks that are great for fishing, sightseeing, or just unwinding after a day of travel. If you're looking to take advantage of the amazing availability of red drum, sea mullet, spanish mackerel, and croaker that you'll find just off the shores of Avon, the Avon Fishing Pier is the place for you. The benefits of fishing from a pier include easy access from above the water, support staff ready to answer your questions about gear or catch, and no need to worry about a fishing license, as the the pier is covered with a blanket license! The local fishing community on the Outer Banks is amazing, kind, and supportive, so you'll always find someone ready to tell you their exciting stories or give you a little bit of advice on how to pull up that skate without wrecking your pole.
Rodanthe Fishing Pier
The Rodanthe Pier, or the Hatteras Island Fishing Pier, is a strong structure that withstood several hurricanes and storms. Jutting 500 feet out into the ocean from Rodanthe, one of the farthest east towns on the Outer Banks, you'll be able to take advantage of some of the most spectacular catches available on Hatteras Island. The pier has its own bait & tackle shop as well as a game room to keep everyone entertained and having fun throughout your entire stay. This family-friendly pier also boasts a knowledgeable staff who are ready to help you with a moment's notice so that your big catch is also a big memory for your entire group.
Bonner Bridge Pier
If you're looking for somewhere a little more out of the way, the Bonner Bridge Pier is a designated spot on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore for sightseeing, walking, and fishing. The Bonner Bridge Pier is a 1,046-foot long segment of the old Bonner Bridge that has been established for public use. The Marc Basnight Bridge replaced the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge in 2022 while this portion of the Bonner Bridge remained in place to help maneuver the current towards the center of the inlet as a navigation aid. This pier is free and open 24 hours a day, but you will need a fishing license before casting out. This pier is definitely a local's favorite and is a premiere place for catching red drum and even sheepshead when the water is right.
Oregon Inlet Fishing Center
Our next few suggestions start moving you away from the short and get you thinking about offshore fishing via a charter boat or your own! While the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center is technically in Nags Head, just 8 miles south of Whalebone Junction, it's a great spot to launch or hire a charter with this full service marina. Launch from the marina, schedule a charter, or sign up for a make-up charter to get out into the currents and start catching something big! Common catch during the spring and summer months often includes big wahoos, mahir, albacore tuna, blackfin, and yellowfin. We're talking big fish here and the fantastic opportunity to not only get some additional fishing experience, but to also stock up on some seafood that you caught yourself!
Diamond Shoals Frying Pan
Now, if you're a local or you grew up within easy driving distance of the Outer Banks, the Diamond Shoals "Frying Pan," as it is affectionately called, may sound familiar. That's because the tower, a decomissioned Coast Guard light station, hosts a large American flag that is a great coloquial indicator for the strength of storms moving into the area. Cameras focused on the tower are broadcast regularly during hurricane season, with the whipping of the flag demonstrating how strong Outer Banks locals can expect the storm to be. (Obviously, this is just for fun: Please be sure to listen to all NOAA and NWS recommendations during hurricane season). The rest of the year, the Frying Pan is a great spot to take your boat out for some private fishing 32 miles offshore. The waters surrounding the tower are home to large fish and other marine species as well as a reef ecosystem where skilled boaters will find amberjack, cobia, and even barracuda.
When is the Best Time to Go Fishing on Hatteras Island?
Many fishermen say that late spring and early fall are the best times to fish on Hatteras Island. With the offshore currents getting even more active in October, red drum and mullet are abundant at the end of the summer season. But if you're planning to come to the Outer Banks during the summer, don't dismay! Cobia, pompano, croakers, and sheepshead can be found in the surf year-round.
The best times of day to go fishing throughout the year are early morning and late evening. Take note of fishing seasons before keeping your catch, as many bottom fish and grouper are only allowed to be harvested as certain times throughout the year. Consult the Department of Environmental Quality's Fisheries Management Proclamations for clarification on which fish and size of fish you can keep at any point throughout the year.
Tips for Fishing on Hatteras Island
Know the Rules & Regulations
Be sure to consult the North Carolina Environmental Quality Fisheries Management Proclamations before keeping anything you catch. These notices are updated regularly and determine fishing seasons and areas, harvest limits, and other rules and conditions. The recreational size and bag limits can change depending on conditions, so don't get caught with too many or the wrong size fish! Penalties can includes fines and conviction of a misdemeanor, so it's better to be safe than sorry.
Have the Appropriate Fishing License
In the state of North Carolina, anyone 16 and older must have a license to fish. For waters designated as coastal and joint waters, a Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required. If you just need a license for your vacation, a 10-day license option is available. Otherwise, Coastal Recreational Fishing LIcenses can be purchased annually or for a lifetime. You can purcahse a license at any bait & tackle shop or by visiting the Division of Marine Fisheries website. If you're going to be fishing from a pier or on a licensed charter, this requirement is waived as you'll be covered by a blanket license.
Get a Beach Driving Permit
Before driving on the beach, which you will have to do in order to reach Cape Point or the beach near Hatteras Inlet, you will need to make sure that you have an ORV permit for your vehicle. To obtain an ORV permit for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which includes Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras, and Ocracoke, they can be purchased online 24 hours a day. Visitors can purchase a 10-Permit for $50 or an Annual Permit for $120, which is valid for one year from the date of purchase. Find out more about OBX beach driving here.
Pick the Right Bait
The kind of bait that you use is going to depend on the type of fishing you're doing as well as the species of fish you're trying to get. Cut bait such as eels, ballyhoo, and pilchards are some of the most common bait for saltwater fishing while squid and shrimp is always a safe bet. Check out our Guide to OBX FIsh Species for more information about what types of bait certain species of fish like and don't be afraid to ask your nearest bait & tackle shop for advice and suggestions. We're not joking when we say that the fishing community on the Outer Banks is like one giant family. They'll definitely help you have the best fishing experience you can.
OBX Fishing Family
Plan Your Next Hatteras Island Fishing Adventure Today!
So whether you're hoping to come for a short stay getaway or you're excited to introduce the kiddos to some important North Carolina history while recreating memories of your childhood beach vacation, we've got the perfect place for you to stay while you're in town. Check out our available rentals on Hatteras Island and book your own exploration of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore today!
Keep an eye on our specials and deals and book now before your dream Outer Banks beach house fills up for the summer. Give our wonderful Guest Services Team a call today at (866) 884-0267 or take a look at our available rentals to get started planning your next historic adventure to the Outer Banks. And don't forget about our layaway plan, which makes booking your dream vacation easier than ever. So don't wait. We're booking Outer Banks vacation rentals year round and we're excited to help you create memories to last a lifetime. We're here to help make your OBX vacation fun, exciting, and hassle-free. Give us a call today!
We'll see you at the beach.