Cape Lookout National Seashore | FISHING

Fishing at the point on Cape Lookout, South Core Banks

Fishing at the point on Cape Lookout, South Core Banks

Fishing is one of the most popular activities at Cape Lookout National Seashore and can be done all year round, though the best times are in the fall (late September through November and even into December) and in April and May. What is considered the “off season” for the typical tourist is the “on-season” for the fishermen. Ferries may be booked solid during this time, especially on weekends, as fishermen bring their 4-Wheel Drives with campers attached for week-long vacations. I was at the ferry office in early September and the receptionist was on the phone with what sounded like a guy pleading for a spot for a weekend in October.

The people who come to fish on the islands are serious sportsmen with rigs decked out with fishing pole holders on the front of their vehicles and poles tough enough to catch big-game fish. Sharks and other large fish roam the waters just off the coast, making surf fishing an enjoyable alternative to fishing from a boat. Beer seems to go hand in hand with the sport, which is why many fisherman enjoy the more relaxing shore fishing vs. boat fishing. By the way, it is illegal to have open containers in your vehicle when moving, so drink it all up before driving to a new location!

While fishing is allowed on all of the islands, it is South Core Banks and North Core Banks that draw the crowds because it is on these beaches that vehicles are allowed, making it easy for fisherman to access all of their favorite spots. But times are changing, and most fisherman are not happy with the National Park Service. Frequent beach closures for nesting turtles and sea birds have put a damper on the fun, though according to two fishermen I talked with, not as badly as at Cape Hatteras National Seashore where the majority of the beaches can be closed at any given time. But they feel that it is coming to Cape Lookout as the National Park Service bows more and more to environmentalists and wildlife organizations. The sport fishing economy is all based on access to the fishing spots, and if the sportsmen can’t get to their favorite spots on the beaches at Hatteras or Lookout they will go somewhere else.

As far as the best island to fish at, the men I talked to said South Core Banks was a little better, despite the fact that they were fishing at North Core Banks. For most fishermen, the choice of which island to visit is mainly based on habit. Many have been coming for a long time and can find other regulars on their favorite island at just about any time of the year.

Fishing at Cape Lookout National Seashore requires that you follow North Carolina fishing regulations. No special permits are needed from the National Park Service. See the North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing web page for more information

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Last updated on March 18, 2024
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