April is the best spring time month to catch big red drum in the surf on Ocracoke Island. These citation sized fish (greater than 40” in length) begin to show up in good numbers as the water warms into the lower 60’s.
While the first few big drum are caught in March and a few will stay in the surf through May, April is the peak month as these fish move inshore from the ocean. Most will be caught on chunks of bait fished near breaks in the sandbars along the beach or near the inlets. Puppy drum, smaller 18” to 27” slot limit sized red drum, will also be found in good numbers along the beach. Shrimp, squid, mullet, and menhaden are all good baits for fishing the surf.
And while most fishermen are targeting big drum and puppy drum, many years we also see nice catches of hard-fighting big bluefish (over 30” in length). Smaller bluefish in the 14” to 18” range, which are better to eat than the large blues, will be caught. Black drum from 3 to 8 pounds are usually caught, and there may be a couple of sheepshead showing up in the surf as well. Toward the end of the month sea mullets and trout might join the mix.
Surf fishing in April generally finds open beaches, with plenty of access for pedestrians and four-wheel drive vehicles. Although bird nesting closures may affect four-wheel access at the inlets, there will still be plenty of four-wheel drive access in other areas. If anyone has questions or concerns about pedestrian or four-wheel drive access on the Outer Banks, they should call the tackle shop for the latest information on Ocracoke.
Inshore fishing provides the same opportunities as surf fishing during April around Ocracoke. One special April inshore fishing opportunity is the ability to sight-cast big red drum as they approach the inlets. When these fish are moving in large schools they will aggressively hit large bucktails cast to the edge of the school.
April can provide outstanding action for anglers that find these schools. Offshore action will be a mixed report of king mackerel, wahoo, and amberjack. Although they might be scarce some years, yellowfin tuna can provide great April fishing some years. Triggerfish and black sea bass can be caught near Ocracoke as well. We look for the beginning of the offshore fishing season in mid-March, and the action often heats up as we get to April.
See recent catches and read the current fishing reports at Tradewinds Tackle on Facebook or on our home page. For more information on what to expect fishing Ocracoke year round see our fishing page here.