Outer Banks Fishing
The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a sport fisherman’s paradise. The sheer quantity of angling opportunities makes our waters some of the best in the world. Brackish fishing, fly fishing, offshore and inshore charter fishing, sound and head boat fishing, surf and pier fishing – all with the season continuing throughout the year.
An individual does not need a special license for charter boat and pier fishing, which are covered by a blanket license. Anglers should know the current marine fisheries regulations, including size and creel limits. A Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required to fish (besides on charters and piers) on the Outer Banks. Children under 16 are exempt. For details about the citation program and/or current marine fisheries regulations, visit any Outer Banks bait and tackle shop or pier or call the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries at 800-682-2632 (North Carolina only), 252-808-8081, or visit Division of Marine Fisheries website.
Types of OBX Fishing
Fishing the brackish water of the Croatan, Roanoke and Pamlico Sounds can be very rewarding. Bass season begins in April and lasts through November peaking in mid-April to early June and in September and October. During the summer, perch are prevalent.
Fly fishing has become a popular way to take advantage of the area’s rich and bountiful waters. Numerous world records have been made here. Species caught are determined by the time of year.
Offshore and Inshore Charter Fishing
The Outer Banks is "The Billfish Capital of the World," and for good reason. Hundreds of blue marlin, white marlin and sailfish are caught and released in our waters every year. The billfish season is long, with the peak for blue marlin in June and white marlin and sailfish most plentiful in August and September. All are caught consistently from late spring to early fall. Another big draw are yellowfin tuna, which are caught year-round.
Sound and Head boat Fishing
Another great way to fish is by small boat in the sounds. From your own boat, or a chartered vessel, anglers can expect to catch a variety of fishing including spot, flounder, Spanish mackerel and cobia. You can also fish alone or with a party on a head boat, which can carry 40-50 people, run half-day trips and stay in the sound and inlet waters. The boats provide experienced and helpful crews, bait, equipment and tackle and restrooms.
Surf Fishing on the Outer Banks and Pier Fishing
For the surfcaster, there are more than 100 miles of accessible beach. Find more ORV 4x4 driving information here. For pier fishermen, there are several piers located from Kill Devil Hills to Hatteras. Surf and pier season begins in March. The season peaks in May and November.
What to Fish When
The merging of the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current create an underwater gathering of all types of marine life. Surf and pier fishing, brackish, fly and sound fishing, deep sea fishing, inshore and offshore charter fishing – all with the season continuing throughout the year. Try your hand at hooking crab cages and pulling in shrimp nets for a fun adventure that is sure to please the entire family at OBX Shrimping & Crabbing. Take your fresh catch to Pirate's Cove and they will prepare it to your liking or as the chef seems fit. If you need a little more convincing to become an amateur angler, check out our team's Deep Sea Fishing adventure.
|January||Trout, sea bass, bluefish, bluefin tuna, oysters, striped bass, bay scallops|
|February||Trout, sea bass, blue fish, bluefin tuna, oysters, bay scallops, striped bass|
|March||Grouper, sea trout, sea bass, bluefish, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, oysters, snapper, striped bass|
|April||Bluefish, channel bass (red drum), grouper, snapper, croaker, sea trout, sea mullet, king mackerel, wahoo, oysters, striped bass.|
|May||King mackerel, bluefish, grouper, cobia, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, crabs, soft crabs, sea mullet, blue marlin, striped bass, channel bass, Spanish mackerel, sot, croaker|
|June||Blue marlin, white marlin, dolphin, wahoo, cobia, king mackerel, bluefish, tuna, flounder, snapper, grouper, Spanish mackerel, crabs, soft crabs, shrimp, spot, croaker|
|July||Dolphin, wahoo, blue marlin, sailfish, white marlin, snapper, grouper, sea mullet, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, shrimp, crabs, soft crabs, spot, croaker|
|August||Blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, dolphin, wahoo, tuna, grouper, snapper, bluefish, flounder, Spanish mackerel, some croaker, speckled trout, spot, shrimp, crabs|
|September||White marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, tuna, grouper, snapper, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, spot, bluefish, speckled trout, sea mullet, channel bass, shrimp, striped bass|
|October||King mackerel, tuna, bluefish, snapper, grouper, channel bass, spot, speckled trout, flounder, oysters, shrimp, striped bass|
|November||King mackerel, tuna, bluefish, speckled trout, flounder, oysters, sea mullet, snapper, grouper, clams, striped bass|
|December||Tuna, bluefish, flounder, sea bass, speckled trout, clams, oysters, sea trout, snapper, grouper, striped bass|
Fishing License Information
A Coastal Recreational Fishing License is required to fish on the Outer Banks. Children under 16 are exempt. An individual does not need a license for charter boat and pier fishing, which are covered by a blanket license. Anglers should know the current marine fisheries regulations, including size and creel limits. For details about the citation program and/or current marine fisheries regulations, visit any Outer Banks bait and tackle shop or pier or call the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries at 800-682-2632 (North Carolina only), 252-808-8081 or visit Division of Marine Fisheries website.
Annual Coastal Recreational Fishing License
- State Residents, age 16 or older - $15
- Non-Residents, age 16 or older - $30
10-day Coastal Recreational Fishing License
- State Residents, age 16 or older - $5
- Non-residents, age 16 or older - $10
Convenient ways to purchase a Coastal Recreational Fishing License
- Online at www.ncwildlife.org - (using your PC or Mobile Device)
- By telephone at 1-888-248-6834
- Locate a Wildlife Service Agent on the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Website
- Visit Division of Marine Fisheries Website
For further information about the Coastal Recreational Fishing License, including a list of locations that sells licenses, visit the Division of Marine Fisheries website.
Fishing Charters in Outer Banks & Outer Banks Crabbing
The Outer Banks has no shortage of families that have acted as fishing guides or have fished commercially for generations. Filter your results by type of fishing or crabbing and location. Learn more about our three main islands that make up the Outer Banks.