There's nothing quite like packing up the cooler and the rods and heading down to the beach for a long day of fishing. Thousands of North Carolina visitors flock to the beaches every year, during all four seasons, to get their lines wet and bring home a spectacular catch. With hundreds of miles of shoreline to choose from, it's not hard to find plenty of elbow room to cast out a line or two. Also, with hundreds of species of fish, ranging from a 1-pound sea mullet to a 90-pound red drum, surf fishing off the North Carolina coast can yield a wide variety of tasty results.
Fishing has been around for as long as mankind, and archeologists have found "fish hooks" made out of bones that are 9,000 years old. Along North Carolina's coast, locals have been fishing off the beaches for sustenance for hundreds of years, from the first Native Americans to the English settlers. When it comes to tourism, many North Carolina coastal communities never would have become vacation destinations if it wasn't for the surf fishermen who made long weekend treks out to the coast to do some fishing.
For example, except for the maritime community, Hatteras Island was virtually undiscovered for decades. With no practical way to access the island, the beautiful beaches were relatively undiscovered until the 1930s. During this time, the New Deal brought in public works projects to build up the dunes to create dry paths without ocean overwash to the villages, and a local entrepreneur, Captain Tillet, began a ferry service across Oregon Inlet.
The first tourists to Hatteras Island were the hunters and fishermen of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s who traveled down miles of dirt roads and beach paths just to enjoy some of the best and undiscovered fishing holes in North Carolina. Many argue that if it weren't for these first fishermen, Hatteras Island would not be the popular vacation destination that it is today.
The beaches from the Northern Outer Banks to the Southern Cape Fear region still welcome thousands of surf fishermen every year, in all kinds of weather, and it's easy to see why.
Unlike charter fishing, there is little equipment required, and you can cast from any spot along the coastline. Just find a beach, grab a rod and reel, and cast away. It might be more difficult to fight and land a fish from the shore than it is from a boat, but avid surf fishermen attest that it's all part of the fun.