Fishing is exceptional in Currituck County due to the miles of ocean shoreline and the 30-mile wide Currituck Sound, which has the surprising distinction of being able to accommodate both freshwater and saltwater species.
Renowned for its largemouth bass fishing, the Currituck Sound is historically one of the most famous fishing regions of coastal North Carolina, and was one of the first areas of the Outer Banks that was designated as a "tourist destination," solely because of its fishing and waterfowl hunting opportunities.
Modern visitors will find similarly exceptional conditions, but will want to keep the following in mind for ensuring the best possible Currituck fishing trips.
Licenses are required for both "freshwater" fishing in the Currituck Sound as well as surf fishing along the Atlantic Ocean-facing beaches. Licenses are available via the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) and range from $10-18 for a 10 day temporary visitor's license to $30-36 for an annual license. Licenses are required for all anglers over the age of 16, and lifetime fishing licenses are also available for NC residents and frequent visitors.
Currituck County is unique in that the type of license required is dependent on whether you fish in fresh or saltwaters, but both the NCWRC website and local tackle shops can point anglers in the right direction when it comes to purchasing the required license for a targeted area.
An NC fishing license can be purchased online on the NCWRC's website at http://www.ncwildlife.org/, by telephone at 1-888-248-6834, or at a number of local tackle shops.
Where to purchase a fishing license in Currituck County:
- TW's Bait & Tackle, 815B Ocean Trail, Corolla, NC 27927
- Currituck Sports, 4306 Caratoke Hwy, Barco, NC
- East Coast Home & Garden, 512 Caratoke Hwy, Moyock, NC
- Midway Marina & Motel, 157 Coinjock Development Rd, Coinjock, NC 27923
- Stewart's Hunting Lodge, 773 Bells Island Rd. Currituck, NC
- Jones Grocery & Supply, 385 Knotts Island Rd. Knotts Island, NC
Surf Fishing Regulations
The Wildlife Resources Commission determines the minimum length and bag limit for all species of fish caught in the Atlantic Ocean or the Currituck Sound, and the limits vary greatly by species. A complete list of current regulations can be found online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-fishing-size-and-bag-limits, and anglers are required to possess a fishing license at all times in Currituck County.
What's biting in Currituck County is dependent on where an angler fishes, as well as the time of year. The Currituck Sound is known for its freshwater catches, including largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish and crabs, while the ocean-facing beaches are home to a range of saltwater species.
Generally, anglers can be on the lookout for the following saltwater species during their respected seasons:
- Winter: Bluefish, clams, oysters, bay scallops, flounder, spotted sea trout, and striped bass
- Spring: Bluefish, clams, croaker, flounder, gray trout, king mackerels, red drum, sea mullets, spotted sea trout, and striped bass
- Summer:Bluefish, clams, cobia, crabs, soft-shell crabs, flounder, grouper, king mackerel, sea bass, sharks, Spanish mackerel, spotted sea trout, tarpon, and pompano
- Fall: Bluefish, gray trout, clams, oysters, false albacore, grouper, king mackerel, oysters, red drum, sea mullet, sharks, flounder, spotted sea trout, spots, and striped bass
Keep in mind that the ocean waters will produce very different results than the neighboring Currituck Sound, as the sound waters are considered almost freshwater.
The Outer Banks regions which border Currituck County are home to a wealth of fishing tournaments, with prizes in the $1,000, $10,000 and even $100,000 range.
The biggest of these tournament is the Big Rock Blue Marlin tournament, an offshore fishing tournament based in the southern Outer Banks that covers the bulk of the NC Gulf Stream-bordering region.
The town of Manteo is also home to several tournaments, including the historic Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament and the Alice Kelly Tournament, an offshore fishing competition strictly reserved for female anglers.
Further down the beach, fall Currituck County visitors can take part in the annual Red Drum tournament on Hatteras Island, a surf fishing competition that's been going strong for more than 60 years.
The local marinas, including the Pirates Cove Marina in Manteo and the Coinjock Marina in Currituck County, are good resources for information on upcoming fishing tournaments that take place on the beach, the local Outer Banks piers, and offshore, and anglers should note that a number of tournaments may require advance sign-ups or a formal invitation, and should plan accordingly.
Currituck County is home to a handful of inshore charter businesses which embark on guided fishing and hunting trips through the Currituck Sound. Half day and full day options are typically available in the $300 - $800 range, depending on party size and type of trip, and parties of 1-6 can generally be accommodated. Advanced reservations are required, although parties of 1-2 can often "hop aboard" an unfilled fishing charter at the last minute.
Popular inshore fishing charters which serve the Currituck Sound region include the Carolina Sunrise, East Carolina Charters, Albemarle Fishing Charters, Island Girl Charters and Outer Banks Charter Fishing Adventures.
Visitors to Currituck County can also find offshore charters available in the town of Wanchese, located approximately 20-30 miles away, the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, located about 30-40 miles away, and in Hatteras Village, which is a good 60-70 miles away but is a scenic trip that covers the length of Hatteras Island. These offshore charters take patrons out 10-18 miles to the Gulf Stream, where big game catches including wahoo, marlin, dolphin, amberjack and snapper are waiting.
Offshore fishing trips are generally more expensive, and are priced in the $450 - $1,200 range, depending on the trip (half day or full day) and the party size, but are the optimal way to reel in a big game or sport catch that weighs in at 20 lbs. or more.
Note that you do NOT need a fishing license to take a charter fishing trip, as the captain's license covers all parties aboard.
Regardless of whether you embark on an inshore exploration of the Currituck Sound, or an offshore trip to the Gulf Stream, be sure to have the following items handy.
- Small cooler for water, beverages and snacks
- Plastic containers or waterproof baggies for camera, phone, and other electronic equipment
- Dramamine, especially for offshore charter trips with winds greater than 10 mph
- Bug spray for Currituck Sound and inshore trips
- Bathing suit or extra T-shirt and shorts in case you get wet
- Cash tip for the first mate or captain. (Tipping is customary for a charter trip.)