Offshore Gulf Stream Charter Fishing
If you drive across the Bonner Bridge which spans Oregon Inlet just before dawn or at about 3:00 in the afternoon, chances are you’ll encounter a fleet of charter boats making their march to and from the Atlantic Ocean. Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream, just 12-15 miles off the coast, off-shore fishermen consider the Outer Banks, and particularly Hatteras Island, one of the best charter fishing launching points in the world.
Quick Marina Guide
What is the Gulf Stream?
The Gulf Stream is essentially a 40-50 mile wide current, the largest and fastest in the world, which runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. Its very nature makes it home to countless species of fish and wildlife, specifically off of Cape Hatteras and the surrounding waters of the Carolina Coast. Migration plays a large role in attracting varying species to the Gulf Stream. Many species use the quickly paced waters as taxis from one feeding source to another, or to different locations throughout the globe, depending on the time of year.
Fishing for the Big One
This vast range of species, namely larger fish, attracts charter boats and fishermen chugging out into the Gulf Stream in search of the big one. These charter boats target a multitude of different "meat" and "sport" fish, including yellowfin tuna, grouper, rockfish, snapper, mahi mahi (Hawaiian for “strong strong”) or dolphin, and prized blue and white marlins. In fact, Hatteras Village has been the launching point for record breaking blue marlin catches over the last 50 years, and many Hatteras marinas, charter boats, museums and cultural centers don the blue marlin's image.
With two inlets to launch from, Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet, a number of accredited charter boat businesses call the Outer Banks home. These fleets offer half day or full day parties, and provide bait, tackle, and a little extra help if you do land a whopper. With comfortable accommodations, and equipment to ease the reeling in of particularly large catches, (like “fighting chairs” to secure an angler with a big fish on the line, and Tuna Doors to load fish into the bottom of the boat,) charter boats make big game fishing a breeze.
Booking your Charter Trip
It’s a good idea to reserve a charter boat trip well in advance, as when the fishing forecast is good, the charter fleets can fill up fast. Call a local island marina, like Teach’s Lair Marina, Hatteras Harbor Marina, Oden’s Dock, or Oregon Inlet Fishing Center for recommendations and availability. On occasion, make-up charters become available which enable smaller parties of 1-2 people to join together. This is a last minute, economical way to embark on a charter fishing adventure.
Be prepared to get up early – many charter boats leave in the wee hours of the morning, well before the sunrise. Local coffee shops and marina stores are usually open to provide hot coffee and a quick breakfast before you set out for the Gulf Stream. When you return, don’t be surprised if you see a crowd awaiting you at the docks. A big attraction for Hatteras and Oregon Inlet visitors is waiting on the marina docks in the late afternoon to watch the big fish being unloaded from the boats, and hoisted onto the docks where they are weighed.
Most anglers catch more than they can eat in just one meal, and many charter boats are happy to help you clean and pack your catches for the ride home. Ask about arrangements when you make your reservation.
Whether you simply watch the day’s catch from the docks, or join the procession of charter boats on their daily fishing expedition, Outer Banks charter fishing is simply a remarkable adventure for beginners and expert off-shore fishermen from around the world.