Looking for social distancing and a great meal? Head out for some Outer Banks fishing

A pair of local anglers enjoying some social distancing at Sandy Run Park in Kitty Hawk on March 17, 2020. [Jody O'Donnell photo]

Travel advisories issued, schools closed and restaurant dining areas have been shut down. Self-quarantine and social distancing have become key buzz phrases during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, while options for fun have grown increasingly slim.

But there’s one activity which can offer social distancing, self quarantine, and possibly a delicious meal, all at the same time for Outer Banks residents: fishing.

With over 100 miles of coastline to choose from, this time of year the surf fishing scene should be ready to start really producing as noted by Capt. Marty Brill in a recent fishing report on Beach 104 and Big 94-5.

“If you’ve got some time on your hands, you can go out there and be the solitary fisherman, cause the sea mullet bite is underway from the low end of Hatteras Island up to Cape Point, and some of them further north than that,” Brill said.

“There’s also a scattered puppy drum, blow toad or shark being caught,” Brill added.

Heather James at Frank and Frans Tackle Shop in Avon agreed with Brill’s assessment, and mentioned fresh shrimp and mullet are currently the best baits.

In addition to bait, an eager angler will need a rod and reel combo and a Recreational Coastal Fishing Licens. Licenses are not required for anglers under age 16.

Both 10-day and annual licenses are available at area tackle shops and online at www.ncwildlife.org.

“(Frank and Frans) have some rod and reel combos as low as $39.99,” James said. She said ramps 55 and 44 have been the most productive spots.

However, driving on the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore does require a permit. The permit office is currently closed, but beach driving permits can be procured at www.recreation.gov.

Surf fishing north of Oregon Inlet hasn’t been as bountiful.

“Right now it’s pretty slow, just skates and dog sharks,” said Kaleb Keeton at TW’s Bait and Tackle’s.

But the news isn’t all doom and gloom. There is freshwater fishing on the Outer Banks too.

“You can probably go to some ponds around here and catch some bass right now, they may be up on the beds starting to spawn this time of year,” Keeton said.

“You can throw a bobber with a small hook and night crawler and catch bass and bluegills, or if you’re specifically trying to target bass, I’d throw an artificial worm, or spinner baits, chatter baits, anything like that,” Keeton said.

Keeton added that a freshwater rod and reel combo at TW’s could range from around $20 to $30 for starters, all the way up to $1,000 for a top of the line set up.

One must remember most ponds along the Outer Banks are on private property. So it’s a good idea to get proper permission.

“The only really public place on the beach is at Sandy Run Park back on Kitty Hawk Woods Road,” Keeton said. “I’ve caught a few bass there, there’s a lot of bluegill and stuff there too.”

Sandy Run Park is located along Kitty Hawk Road. [Jody O’Donnell photo]

It should be noted, according to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission website you don’t need a license to fish on a private pond.

But if it isn’t private, then you will need a N.C. Inland Fishing License, which is not the same thing as a N.C. Coastal Fishing License.

Better yet, get the Unified Inland/Coastal Recreational Fishing which lets you fish in all the Outer Banks bountiful waters.