Surf Fishing the Outer Banks of North CarolinaWritten by Elizabeth Edwards
My first experience surf fishing was with my father on Wrightsville Beach, NC in 60's. He parked our shiny black Ford Fairlane in a gravel parking lot off beach and we hiked over dunes to surf, carrying rods, buckets, tackle box and various other fishing paraphernalia. I remember him catching bluefish, croakers, puppy drum and flounder as I played in tidal pools nearby. Later, my grandmother would fry filleted fish to a golden brown and we would eat them with hushpuppies and coleslaw.
Years later, in mid-eighties, I remember an early winter fishing expedition near Oregon Inlet, south of Nags Head, this time with my husband, 8-month old daughter and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy. My husband had come in from duck hunting and had heard big blues were hitting beach! We parked our 4-wheel drive truck nearby on hard sand and with baby playing contentedly in her car seat and puppy chewing on anything he could find, we lined up along surf with a few dozen other fishermen, casting heavy silver spoon lures into churning waters of big blue blitz. Cast after cast we were rewarded with huge bluefish, twelve to sixteen pounds, filling up a wheelbarrow in a pyramid of large fish. Later we filleted, boiled and ate fish in casseroles made with mashed potatoes. Needless to say, we were eating bluefish casseroles all winter long.
Surf fishing is exciting, rewarding and accessible to all. Most locations can be reached either by car or ferry. With a basic understanding of seasons, conditions, equipment and regulations, an angler can get lucky just about any time of year, but typically very best times to surf fish are spring and fall.
Popular and prolific sport fish species you may catch surf fishing along North Carolina coast include:
Channel bass (red drum, puppy drum) The spring season generally begins in April. This run will peak by mid May and taper off in early June. Average size in spring is 35 to 50 pounds. In September smaller drum will enter surf. These fish will range between 2 and 15 pounds. They are more plentiful than larger variety and can be found in most sloughs. In late October bigger drum (40-70 pounds) return and remain until late November. Bait of choice is fresh mullet; rods are 9 to 11 feet with medium to heavy action tips. Size allowed is between 18" and 27" with a daily bag limit of 1 per person.
Bluefish Blues are available in a variety of sizes from April to December to surf fishermen and boaters as well. Large size blues (8-12 pounds) arrive in May and remain until November. Their departure is generally hastened by arrival of fall run of 15-20 pound giant blues. These later fall visitors are plentiful and powerful. They'll take bait (mullet, spot, or menhaden) or almost any type of lure. Fishing rods 9 to 11 feet are preferred. Bag limit of 15 per day per person. Only 5 allowed over 24" total length (from tip of snout to tip of compressed tail).
Women and Fishing -- Not Just a Man's SportWritten by Elizabeth Edwards
More and more women are learning to enjoy fishing each and every day. And, why not? Fishing is a sport that doesn't require exceptional strength, stamina or height - quite contrary, fishing is a sport of agility, finesse and patience, skills many women already possess. So why don't more women fish?
Successful fishing requires knowledge of various types of fishing gear, tackle, and an understanding of quarry. Fish have a variety of feeding habits, behavioral patterns, etc. and these characteristics influence how to go about fishing for them.
Traditionally, men learned how to fish when they were boys from fathers and grandfathers. Even if this training was lacking, it's no big deal for a guy to hang out with other guys who enjoy fishing and learn ropes from them.
For a woman, though, process is apt to be somewhat more difficult. In my family of all girls, we learned thrill of fishing as children from our father. Fortunately for us, our dad was an "equal-opportunity" fisherman...and he was a very patient man.
We learned to bait our own hooks, remove fish from line, and clean fish as well. We were rewarded with many an enjoyable Sunday on lake competing for top family fishing honors of who caught most and biggest fish.
For women who weren't brought up fishing as I was, all is certainly not lost. Although learning from a boyfriend or spouse is not out of question, a significant other may not be best place to get your first fishing pointers.
Your honey may not have patience that you will need to learn proper fishing technique and he may be a bit condescending as well…not exactly conducive to an enjoyable learning experience.
Try instead local women's fishing clubs. Check online for groups in your area that are specifically organized by and for women. Many groups are primarily centered on fly-fishing but not all are.
Also see if your community college or local university offers any fishing courses. Often fishing classes are offered in adult education, physical education or recreation departments.