Nags Head Fishing
Folks, especially fishy folks, know that Nags Head fishing—along with Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk—is some of the best you can get. From flounder and stripers to tuna and billfish, our waters are rich in species. Nags Head surf fishing is probably the most popular way to wet a line here, but you’ll also find anglers piloting small boats for inshore excursions, dropping a line from the piers and Nags Head Causeway or checking out the marinas for offshore Outer Banks fishing adventures.
Knowing what’s running seasonally and at the moment helps get you started. You can answer those Outer Banks fishing questions a number of ways. One way is to stop in at a Nags Head fishing pier. The people who run these piers know what’s biting and how to get it to bite your line—in other words what bait and rods to use (and maybe even how to hold your mouth for that important finishing touch). They can also advise you on the Nags Head surf fishing experience. Heck, probably anything you need to know about the overall Outer Banks fishing scene, these folks can tell you. The same will be true at the many tackle shops you’ll find up and down the area. Another great local source is books written by a local fellow named Joe Malet. He’s written several illustrated tomes, Surf Fishing and Pier Fishing and Let’s Go Crabbing that specifically speak to species and methods for our area. He also runs a fishing school that we’ve listed below.
So, if haven’t already qualified for the Nags Head, NC, fisherperson of the year award and want to go for the title this vacation, what do you do? Well, you can follow the advice of the folks mentioned above, grab your gear and get yourself to the ocean or sound. Or if you want your feet to leave terra firma, you can venture out into the Outer Banks waters in your own personal vessel or rent one while you’re here. If guidance is needed, you’ll find plenty through the marinas where experienced captains and mates book a variety of half- and full-day fishing charters including head boat fishing (a big boat that generally fishes inshore and charges “by the head”) and Gulf Stream excursions. The tackle shops are a good place to investigate fishing regulations. The waters are patrolled, and limits and size restrictions are strictly enforced. Ask the people you talk with to guide you on appropriate bait and lures to give you a positive head start. Piers rent tackle, or you can bring your own or make purchases while here. Citation fish add to the lure of our waters. Learn more about these award-winning fish at any number of official weigh stations running along the Outer Banks.
- 2000 Sailfish Drive, Docks at Pirate’s Cove Marina
- Nags Head
- (252) 473-5577
Whether for head boat fishing or cruises, you will enjoy the 65-foot, big and comfortable Crystal Dawn. You will fish in the inlet or sound for a variety of fish such as flounder, croaker, spot, trout, sea mullet, sea bass and more, depending on the season and conditions. All bait, tackle and licenses are furnished. Cost for head boat fishing is $40 for adults and $30 for children 10 and younger. Roanoke Island Cruises are $15 adults and $10 children 10 and younger. The vessel is available for private charters, bachelor, bachelorette, family functions and more. Small coolers are welcome.
- 7223 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Beach Road, MP 16.5
- Nags Head
- (252) 255-1501
With its mantra of Fishing, Family and Fun, Jennette’s Pier offers something for everyone. There’s world-class fishing, unique educational programs and excellent opportunities for sightseeing from the 1,000-foot-long fishing pier, which was re-opened in 2011 after a complete renovation. In the past two seasons, anglers have caught plenty of cobia, big bull red drum, puppy drum, speckled trout, gray trout, monster bluefish, tailor blues, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, sea mullet, flounder, a dolphin fish (mahi mahi) and more.
Anglers can find everything they need for a day of fishing inside the pier house. Purchase a rod and reel combo, or rent one by the day for $10 (photo ID required). There’s plenty of bait, rigs, lures, line and other fishing gear for sale as well as drinks, snacks and souvenir items. The pier has a blanket license for all anglers, so you do not need a fishing license. The pier opens at 5 a.m. during the summer season and 6 a.m. in the spring and fall. A daily fishing pass is good until midnight.
The pier staff offers a variety of fishing classes from Family Fishing to Advanced Fishing. Learn how to jig or pin-rig fish, attend a surf fishing workshop or try the popular “Catch it, Clean it and Cook it.” Several classes are for children only, such as Little Anglers, where they learn to cast, bait their hooks and land a fish. A handful of fishing tournaments are held throughout the year.
Jennette’s Pier is a state-of-the-art educational center and features wide, clean public beaches, free parking and a bath house with outdoor showers. The pier is open year round.
- 98 N.C. Highway 12, Bodie Island just before the Oregon Inlet Bridge
- Nags Head
- (252) 441-6301, (800) 272-5199
Charter a variety of inshore and offshore fishing ventures here including half-day and full-day trips and head boat excursions. Trips are booked year-round with experienced captains and mates (weather permitting). Anglers go for a variety of species depending on the season including marlin, tuna, dolphin, king mackerel, stripers, drum, bluefish and cobia. All tackle and bait are provided. Bring your own food. The center includes a store chock-full of tackle, bait, snacks, T-shirts and hats. Check out the world record blue marlin mount (1974) displayed in an outdoor case, and take a photo of your group in front a record setting 805-pound blue fin tuna mount. The giant was caught in 2011. Air pump, boat ramp, restrooms and ample parking are available.
- 2000 Sailfish Drive, off the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
- Nags Head
- (252) 473-3906, (800) 367-4728
Just about every afternoon between 4 and 5 p.m. a dozen or more sport fishing boats return from the Gulf Stream to the Pirate’s Cove Marina to unload their catches of tuna, dolphin, wahoo and other deep-sea fish. If you’re interested in seeing the fish before they’re cleaned, head down to the docks and watch the mates hurl the whopping creatures onto the docks. Kids love this, and the anglers are usually friendly about sharing their experiences of the day.
If you’re more of a hands-on type, you might want to take a fishing trip yourself. Pirate’s Cove offers several options for getting to the fishing grounds. Approximately 18 private charter boats are available to take you offshore fishing, and other boats are available for inshore fishing charters. Makeup charters are available. Call for details.
- 2230 S. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 10.5
- Nags Head
- (252) 441-4807
TW’s Bait and Tackle has 7,500 square feet of sheer shopping pleasure for anglers, hunters and sports enthusiasts of all ages. Check out their massive replica of the North Carolina state record blue marlin caught at Pirates Cove Marina and the world record yellowfin tuna that adorns the storefront. Inside, your mind will swim with the vast selection of inshore, offshore, surf, fly and freshwater tackle including manufactures such as Daiwa, Shimano, Okuma, G.Loomis, Black Bart lures, Yeti coolers, Bluewater lures and Berkley Gulp to name a few. TW’s stocks some of the newest products the fishing industry has to offer. Looking for a custom trout rod or a complete set of trolling rods? TW’s custom rod builders will create the rod of your dreams. When it comes to bait, their selection is endless. Lively eels and bloodworms, fresh mullet & shrimp, assorted frozen squid, minnows, bunker and ballyhoo are just a few of their fish-catching delicacies. Don’t forget to check out the awesome lines of fun and functional clothing. Their experienced, helpful staff is always ready to assist in all your fishing needs. Stop by, weigh your fish and share your fish story.
- 3864 N. Croatan Highway, The Bypass, MP 4
- Kitty Hawk
- (252) 261-7848
TW’s Bait and Tackle in Kitty Hawk has been an angler’s landmark destination for more than 30 years. They are a full-service tackle shop offering the latest and greatest selection of inshore, offshore, surf, fly and freshwater tackle. TW’s stocks quality tackle from some of the top manufacturers such as Daiwa, Shimano, Costa Del Mar, G.Loomis, Black Bart Lures, Berkley Gulp, Bluewater Lures and Yeti Coolers to name a few. When it comes to bait TW’s has it covered, from lively eels, bloodworms and minnows to a huge selection of fresh and frozen fish-catching delicacies. TW’s also carries ballyhoo, high-speed jigs and accessories for the offshore angler. The shop has a warm friendly atmosphere and a helpful experienced staff. Stop by, weigh a fish and share your fishing story. If you’re traveling north or south, stop by TW’s in Corolla or Nags Head.
Avalon Fishing Pier
- 2111 N. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 6
- Kill Devil Hills
- (252) 441-7494
Avalon Fishing Pier was built in 1958 and was 696 feet long. Was? Yes, sadly Hurricane Sandy took some pretty big bites out of the pier. Locals and visitors who love this historic landmark are waiting with hope in their hearts that the pier will be rebuilt soon. Stay tuned.
Country Girl Head Boat
- 2000 Sailfish Drive, Docks at Pirate's Cove Marina
- Nags Head
- (252) 473-5577
The Country Girl can be chartered for full-day Gulf Stream trips for parties of six or more people. Call for rates and schedules. Gulf Stream trips usually yield tuna and mahi-mahi, wahoo, king mackerel, marlin or sailfish depending on the season and conditions. The Country Girl also offers head boat–style wreck fishing. The 57-foot sportfisher can accommodate up to 30 passengers and provides plenty of room for everyone. This is a great way to get a big group of friends together for a day on the water. You’ll catch a variety of species, including black sea bass, triggerfish, gray tile fish, grouper, amberjack and more. The cost is $110 per person, with a minimum of 15 people. Bait, tackle and license are furnished. The Country Girl is also available for bird watching, marine mammal excursions, bachelor, bachelorette and scattering ashes at sea.
- 7665 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
- Nags Head
- (252) 441-5028
They have it all at Fishing Unlimited, including rental rods and reels, bait and tackle, crabbing supplies and a crabbing pier. You can cruise the waterways in one of the 23-foot pontoon boats and 16-foot skiffs or inshore charter boats that are rented here at their Causeway location. If you are in the mood to wet a line, you can crab or fish from Fishing Unlimited’s classic pier in South Nags Head (see Outer Banks Pier listing). The pier is open 24 hours a day, and if you didn’t bring what you need to go for the fish, tackle rentals and bait are available. Make sure you visit the pier’s restaurant, Fish Heads.
Miss Oregon Inlet
- N.C. Highway 12, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
- (252) 441-6301
Miss Oregon Inlet is the resident head boat at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, the closest marina to the renowned fishing grounds of Oregon Inlet. The head boat takes up to 49 people for half-day inshore fishing trips every day except Sunday. From Memorial Day through Labor Day they run two trips, the morning trip leaving at 7 a.m. and the afternoon trip leaving at noon. In May, September and October they run one trip a day, in the morning, starting at 8 a.m. Arrive 30 minutes early for all trips. All bait and tackle are supplied, and the boat has a blanket fishing license that covers all its anglers. Bring your own snacks and drinks, but make sure your cooler is 13 inches or shorter so it will fit under the bench. Tickets cost $41 for adults and $31 for children 6 and younger. You’ll find the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center about 8 miles south of Nags Head just before you get to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet.
Nags Head Fishing Pier
- 3335 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Beach Road, MP 11.5
- Nags Head
- (252) 441-5141
The popular 750-foot pier features a bait and tackle shop, game tables and a restaurant with an ocean view. In season, the pier is open 24 hours a day. Rent tackle here or bring your own. Daily, weekly and seasonal fishing passes are available with varying fees for adults and children. If you’re not into fishing, you can purchase a sightseeing pass. Nearby cottage rentals are available. The pier closes in December and opens in the spring, with the opening date depending on the fishing.
Outer Banks Pier and Fishing Center
- 8901 S. Old Oregon Inlet Road, MP 18.5
- Nags Head
- (252) 441-5740
The 650-foot pier is lighted for evening fishing and open 24 hours a day in season. Rent tackle and buy bait here or bring your own. Daily, weekend and weekly passes are available. No fishing license is required, and they offer senior citizen discounts. Their Fish Heads snack bar and grill serves up everything you need for a fun day of fishing—fresh-made breakfast sandwiches, hamburgers, fries, hot dogs and steamed seafood. Imagine sitting out under the sky, watching the ocean, munching on steamed shrimp and sipping a cold one…nothing better. They frequently have live music in the summer. See Restaurants for more information.
- 105 Promenade Lane, The Bypass, MP 0.5
- Kitty Hawk
- (252) 261-4400
Rent a fishing skiff, kayak or pontoon boat from Promenade Watersports for fishing and crabbing in the sound. Jet skis and sailboats are also available, or you can go parasailing and get a view of the Outer Banks from on high.
Stop ‘N Shop Convenience & Deli
- 100 S. Virginia Dare Trail, The Beach Road, MP 8.5
- Kill Devil Hills
- (252) 441-6105
Stop ‘N Shop is a locally owned full-service tackle shop with rods, reels, combos and a line winding station. They stock fresh and frozen bait, eels and chum. The shop is a North Carolina Saltwater Citation Weigh Station and NC Beach Buggy Weigh Station. Stop by and speak to their experienced salty sales staff for the inside information on what baits to use and where to go. The shop also offers free air for those days when driving on the beach is the best way to get to the fish! While in the shop you can pack your cooler with their Boar’s Head Deli subs, sandwiches, snacks, drinks and all your other beach needs.
- 7405 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway
- Nags Head
- (252) 441-7413
Whalebone Tackle, located on the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway, has been serving Outer Banks anglers since 1977. Locally owned and open year around, stop in and take advantage of their laid back, Old Nags Head-style of doing business. Featuring some of the freshest bait available, including fresh mullet, shrimp, bloodworms and night crawlers, they also have frozen squid, mullet (chunks, filets and finger mullet), frozen minnows, clams, peeler crabs and sandfleas. Ballyhoo, chum and trolling squid are available as well. Novice angler or pro, Whalebone Tackle has you covered. Whether you are fishing for spot, trout, drum, bluefish, tuna or that big blue marlin, they’ll outfit you with the perfect rod and reel combination to suit your needs and your pocketbook. Master rod builder Jerry is well-known for his top quality custom rods. Many local charter captains rely on Whalebone Tackle to outfit their boats, and that’s a testament to Whalebone’s selection and service. Whalebone Tackle is a Shimano Top Shelf dealer and carries all the top names in fishing tackle—Penn, Daiwa, Fenwick, Tica, Shakespeare, Billfisher, Star Rods, Berkley Gulp, Ilander, Mold Craft, Seaguar, Momoi, Jinkai and Z-man to name a few. Polarized sunglasses are a must for anyone spending time on the water, and you’ll find the latest from Costa del Mar, Calcutta and Sea Striker here. And, if you don’t see what you’re looking for, the folks at Whalebone will be more than happy to order it for you.