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Sportsfishing in Oriental and Pamlico County
by: Captain Gary Dubiel of SpecFever Guide Service
Sportsfishing isn't a word you'll often see in association with Oriental; but since the towns beginning, people have made their living from the rich waters surrounding the village. In fact, until recently only locals have enjoyed this diverse and productive fishery. Oriental is nestled on the banks of the Neuse River, just upstream from the Pamlico Sound confluence. As part of the Pamlico Sound estuary system, the waters here help comprise an inland sea of some two million acres. This fertile environment is home to countless species of wildlife and more importantly to the sportsfisherman, large numbers of both resident and migratory gamefish.
Whether you are a light tackle enthusiast, fly fisherman, or big game angler, Oriental has a time and a challenge for you. Flyrodders and light tackle buffs can start their spring adventure early here. Warm March days lead to excellent April angling for local speckled trout (spotted seatrout), puppy drum (juvenile redfish), flounder, and striped bass. Most of the days angling is done in area creeks and small rivers. These tributaries are lined with tall pine and hardwood shorelines that not only add to the beauty of your day on the water, but help protect your from the occasional breezy spring days. Locating large schools of marauding specks in these creeks can make for hot action. Its not uncommon to get the rest of the mix all in the same waters.
As spring changes to summer, so does the diversity of the fishery. By late May schools of ocean run speckled trout, puppy drum, flounder, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, and gray trout (weakfish) move into the inlets and head toward Oriental. Excellent speck and flounder fishing in the shallows of the sound and ICW will continue to thrill novice and veteran anglers alike, but if your a big game guy or lady your time is just around the corner.
Tarpon......yes tarpon invade the sound and river by July. In fact, enough tarpon to keep the town's Rotary sponsoring an annual tarpon tournament. The majority of the fish are big. 60 to 100 plus pound big, but unlike the Keys we catch our tarpon in deep water (generally 18 to 20 foot of water). Success is usually achieved by chumming and bait fishing, but an occasional fish has been taken on artificial. As of this time no one has landed a tarpon on fly, but there has been several hooked....... You could be the first! ******For a real angling challenge, take a tarpon, then head to the grass flats, catch a speckle,a puppy drum, a flounder and finish of the summer grand slam with a Spanish mackerel.
Tarpon fishing continues into the first of September, but by August giant red drum join in the big game mix. These 20 to 40+ monsters come to visit the area annually in August and September and thrill anglers with a trophy redfish of a lifetime. This is a catch and release fishery; please treat these fish with care and return them to the water quickly.
September is not only a good month for the big drum, but it is a great time to enjoy puppy drum as well. Multiple hook-ups are the norm. Either light tackle or fly will provide anglers with a memorable day on the water. In addition to the puppy drum, fisherman can expect to catch flounder, specks, and largemouth bass. Its not uncommon to catch a puppy drum, a flounder, and a bass along the same shoreline.
As September fades to October, shallow water fishing explodes. An increase in the numbers and the size of the specks and flounder, toss in a few nice gray trout, and Oriental has some of the hottest fishing anywhere.
Don't think that the cool weather cools down the fishing. Just as the numbers of puppy drum and flounder fade in November and December the speckled trout fishing becomes world class. Big trout....Big numbers. Fish average 2.5 pounds with many 3 pound plus trout readily taking plugs, grubs, and flies. You've got a great chance of catching a North Carolina citation speck of four pounds or better, or possibly taking a trout over six pounds. Add to the equation 25 to 50 plus hook-ups a day, a few puppy drum and flounder and several stripers and you've got yourself one heck of an early Christmas present.
In addition to the great local angling, Oriental is very close to other regional angling destinations. Harkers Island/Cape Lookout, made famous by the false albacore run, is a short drive away. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is several hours away and can be reached over land or by our state's ferry system. So consider Oriental when your planning your visit to Eastern North Carolina.
Whether your planning a fishing trip to Eastern NC or the mid-Atlantic States or your New Year's resolution was just to get away and try someplace new, consider this diverse and scenic sportsfishing destination known as Oriental. In addition to the great fishing our little village offers great dinning, comfortable accommodations, shops, cultural events, festivals, lush scenery, sailing, a public boat ramp, otters, ospreys, dolphins, peace and quiet. Oriental will not disappoint you; especially, the fishing!
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