The Outer Banks, North Carolina, is protected by both wise policy, and perhaps in an ironic way, nature. Hurricanes threaten all built on these islands and penninsula as if to make sure we never fully abuse their natural presence. Many dozens of miles of protected National Seashore allow for solitude even in mid-day summer sun. The Gulf Stream courses near, so mild weather visits during winter.
Fishing can be fantastic. I was eight in 1969 when my father took me to Kitty Hawk Pier, now removed after fatal hurricane damage some years ago. I caught 22 white perch, anadromadous fish rarely present in the Atlantic, but on this day enduring in droves. I had begun fishing that year, first in New Jersey's Delaware and Raritan Canal. I have forever after loved fishing North Carolina piers.
My son, Matt, and I have yet to try the end of Avalon Pier for king mackerel, but we may in the near future. The plan is to buy stern tackle for amberjacks beyond the reef of the Florida Keys, possibly next summer. Add very large groupers to the mix, possibly. I learned how to tie rigs with piano wire-like leaders in the summer of 2007. But we went out with surf rods! Whatever hit my ballyhoo--surely an amberjack--melted my 11 foot surf rod into a noodle. The fish absolutely slammed the bait drifted 25 feet down or so over 80 feet of water, dove into bottom coral, and ripped the line to shreds, all in a matter of seconds.
Once we're done in Florida, we'll have most of what we need for the end of Avalon Pier. Then it's the matter of competing for space with the locals. I'm honestly not sure how this will work out if we do try.
So far, I've most enjoyed working a jigger, a Gotcha plug-jig, same used on New Jersey's Lake Hopatcong vertical jigging walleyes. I've caught weakfish and blues, but from the age of 17 have never brought a Spanish mackerel over the rail, the principal target of this approach. Many have slashed at my jiggers, but none have stayed on! It just raises the ante on my expectations every year we visit the Banks.
We've got them trolling Clark spoons, which is plenty fun itself. The world record came from Ocracoke Inlet, 13 pounds, but most are closer to one and two pounds, some three. I've never heard of any recent over five. Cero mackerel are sometimes present in the Inlet, and these do average closer to five pounds. All of the Banks inlets, even the Oregon Inlet, are wild and free compared to ours in New Jersey. Fishing in Jersey is good and sometimes great. But in North Carolina you can virtually have an entire inlet to yourself. Likely you will see a few boats, but not much more.
I am myself a mix of straightforward, honest, factual conventionality, and also remote, strange, symbolic, visionary idiosyncracy, but the "idiosyncratic," at least in my case, is much more objective and open to being shared, than would be popularly supposed. It's sort of like that first photograph up top--you see it too. Perhaps you wouldn't have shot it, seen it to shoot. But now that it's produced, there you go. For me the Outer Banks somehow suits this paradox where I am in some ways better than anywhere else I've been.