What's the Fishing Like in Pamlico County?
In the early days, Indians in their man-made dugouts constructed from the local trees, fished the waters of Pamlico county to provide food for their tribe. Today the modern-day fishermen, in their fiberglass and roto-molded watercrafts, fish these same waters in search of the descendants of those earlier fish. The century doesn’t matter. The people of Oriental and the Pamlico area have a rich history of fishing. Since most good fishermen are adept at lying, we might not be certain about the fish caught yesteryear, but today speckled trout, redfish, flounder, old drum, black drum, stripers, croakers, bass, crappie and tarpon are the targets. If you’re brave enough to weather the cold of winter, fish can be caught year-round in these waters. You can fish from the banks. You can fish from the bridges. You can fish from piers. You can fish from kayaks. And you can fish from boats. It doesn’t matter where you fish, you have a great chance of making a fishing memory here.
The year starts with stripers in the deeper holes in the creeks and ends with those same stripers in those same holes. In between, the speckled trout gets more active as the water warms through the 50’s, approaching the 60’s. When the water temperature hits the upper 50’s and lower 60’s, it’s game on as the bite comes alive in the surrounding Neuse and Bay tributaries. As April progresses into May, the trout begin to spawn and head to the safer, deeper waters of the Neuse River and the Pamlico Sound.
Just as trout are present year-round, so are slot and under-slot redfish. Some people call smaller reds puppy drum and some call them rat reds, but everyone wants to be called when they’re biting. A good-sized slot can challenge the best of anglers and is great table fare for anyone. Blackened with black beans, rice and a little chutney on top is my favorite.
Up next are the flounders. Again, some are present year-round but the summer months are the peak time for these challenging creatures. A wise old fisherman once told me that I had to be patient to catch a flounder. He told me, after I felt the initial bump, to drink a beer before I set the hook. Since I try to limit myself to 2 beers, I figured I would never approach the creel limit. He suggested that maybe I smoke a cigarette. No luck again. Since I don’t smoke and only drink a couple of beers, we settled on counting to 10 before I initiated the hook set. My fishing lesson was over once I demonstrated I could count to double digits.
Tarpon. This fish typifies the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. As we exit June and near the Croaker Festival, the silver kings arrive. Speaking of patience, Job would pull his hair out trying to coerce these acrobatic monsters to take his bait. But when they do, a spectacular aerial show is in store for the committed fisherman. After the initial hookset, these beautiful creatures launch skyward and dance across the water. They command so much respect that the experienced fishermen “bow to the kings”.
August and September welcome the spawning old drum. These are the daddies and mommas of the rats and slots that hang around throughout the year. Waves of these 40”-50” reds flow into the Pamlico sound and surrounding rivers to continue their species’ life cycle. People from around the US, and some international fishermen, visit the area for a shot at these trophy fish. The world record old drum was caught in North Carolina in 1983 and weighed in at a slim 94 lbs.
Back to Stripers
October 1 is opening day for stripers after a 6-month closed season (May-September). They don’t put on as dramatic a show as tarpons, but when stripers explode on a topwater lure, even the veteran angler gets excited and forgets to set the hook. Also in October, the speckled trout begin missing the creeks and return for another 3 months of great creek fishing.
That’s pretty much our year of fishing in Oriental and Pamlico County. We have something for everyone. Don’t be afraid to wet a line and tell a good lie.
This article is brought to you courtesy of Captain Bobby Brewer, owner, operator & guide at Bald Headed Bobby Guide Service. When Bobby isn’t out showing his clients an excellent day on the waters around Oriental & Pamlico County you can probably find him trying to keep up with his wife, über athlete & author of “Hungry Mother Creek”, Heather and their dog Maya. For more information about how to book your trip tap to call Bobby at 919.349.6112 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.