Hatteras Island is recognized nationwide for its variety of rarities. From the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to the island's potential role in the Lost Colony to its prime conditions for water sports such as surfing, windsurfing and kiteboarding, one huge draw is for anglers. Fishing has long been a way of life for island locals and a main industry that has kept it's people fed year-round for as long as the island has been inhabited. With an array of fisheries involved in commercial fishing, surf and charter boat fishing are most popular among locals and visitors alike. Between the two fleets at Hatteras Landing alone, there are roughly 25 boats that charter folks on both inshore and offshore trips, and the fish (and fun) are never lacking! We sat down with Captain Brian Patteson of the Stormy Petrel II at Hatteras Landing Marina and picked his brain on his knowledge of island fishing. This is what he had to say:
Hatteras Island is widely known for its beaches, but Hatteras Village is first and foremost a destination for fishing. While commercial fisherman work hard to bring fresh local seafood to the dock, there is a large fleet of charter boats taking anglers out to catch a variety of fishes. Fishing for Blue Marlin in the Gulf Stream and Red Drum in the coastal waters put Hatteras on the map decades ago, but there are a lot of other fishes to be caught here.Fishing in Hatteras is unique because of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is a powerful warm current that delivers more water than all of the world’s rivers combined. During summer it can often be found within 20 miles of Hatteras Inlet. During the winter, it still flows swiftly by with 70 degree water within its bounds. The Gulf Stream is also an avenue for several species of pelagic fishes that are eagerly sought by offshore anglers. In late summer, Hatteras waters often see an influx of Wahoo and Sailfish along with large schools of Dolphin- better known these days as Mahi Mahi. Shipwrecks and offshore reefs provide habitat for hard fighting Amberjacks and tasty Gray Triggerfish and Vermillion Snappers. Out at the edge of the continental shelf Tilefish and big Snowy Groupers inhabit the bottom and schools of Blackfin Tuna can be found at the surface. There is also a chance to encounter the elusive Blue Marlin here as it feeds heavily on these schools of tuna and dolphin.
Although many consider a trip to the Gulf Stream to be the ultimate fishing charter, there is also excellent fishing to be found in the coastal waters. Shorter half-day charters in the ocean or Pamlico Sound are a great option for families with younger children and for folks who would rather fish in calm sheltered waters. Near-shore trips offer great opportunities to catch King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel and Bluefish by trolling right off the beach or within Hatteras Inlet. And inshore trips aboard smaller shallow draft boats can get to the best places to catch Speckled Trout, Flounder, and the hard fighting Red Drum.
Here in Hatteras we have a diverse fleet of charter boats with highly experienced crews. Many are owner operated with a lifetime of experience fishing the local waters. Most of the boats are limited to six passengers by USCG regulations, but there is also a boat that can take more than six and runs private charters. Some of the inshore boats are affordable for smaller groups, and if you are alone and want to get to the Gulf Stream, the marinas frequently put together “make up” trips with other solo anglers or small parties. All of the boats have a blanket saltwater fishing license, so there no need to buy your own unless you will also be fishing from the shore. Our charter fleet in Hatteras welcomes both experienced and novice anglers alike, and whether you want to head to the deep for an all day adventure or wet a line closer to shore, they can hook you up.
(All photos courtesy of Captain Brian Patteson, Stormy Petrel II)