We know the more popular fishing spots are the ocean and the sound but if you just need to get a line out wherever you are in the Outer Banks, canal fishing might be just what you’re looking for. Depending on where you are along our coast, there’s a variety of fish to be caught.
If you’re up north in areas like Carova down to Duck, the water is more fresh so expect your catches to be perch, bass, and catfish. As you move south down to Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head, and beyond, the water gets saltier, so you’ve got a better chance of reeling in more exciting options like flounder, speckled trout, and red drum. If you’re fishing with kids, stick some squid chunks on the line and send it to the bottom to pull in spot/croaker and pinfish all day long. More rare catches in the canal could be flounder and pompano — consider yourself lucky if you catch one of these, especially larger ones.
When choosing tackle, the local experts recommend a few things. For bottom fishing, put down a double bottom rig with any kind of fresh bait you have, like shrimp, cut fish, clam, or as we mentioned already, squid. For the other fish types lurking in canal waters, try to find the smallest circle hooks you can get (#10s work great) and attach Fishbites. Fishbites are more durable than the other baits we’ve mentioned, so if you get persistent hits, they’re the most likely to stand on the line long enough to give you a shot at pulling in some fish. Rumor has it that the sand flea and bloodworm fish bite variants work best. All of this should be available at your local tackle shop. A few of our favorite spots nearby are Corolla Bait And Tackle and Bob’s Bait & Tackle.
When casting, look for different elements that might attract fish. Keep an eye out for grassy areas or structures where fish like to congregate. If you can figure out where some deeper spots may be, that’s a good option too. Test out all your favorite casting methods: slow reel-in, sit and wait, bottom drop, or whatever other creative method you’ve convinced yourself is the secret to your fishing stories.
Another option for sound “fishing” is crabbing. There are likely blue crabs scuttling around in the shadows (and shallows), so grab your crab basket, add a few pieces of the chicken legs you were going to grill this week and toss it down. Let it hang out while you’re doing your other fishing, and who knows, maybe you’ll replace those chicken legs with some crab legs for dinner instead. Keep in mind these crabs might be stealing your bait, so a crab trap could also act as a good decoy to prevent constant re-baiting.
If you’re like most fishermen, just getting a line out is a good day. It may not be in the sound fighting a massive drum or trolling the ocean for billfish, but for simple and easy fishing on the Outer Banks, some time on the canal might just do the trick.
A few items to remember before getting started:
- A fishing license is required for those 16 or older
- It’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep anything due to size or season (but you can still have fun)
- Bring a chair if you’re not fishing from a boat, canoe, or kayak
And the most important thing to remember is to bring your patience, this is fishing after all.