Youtube led me here, yup Youtube. I watched one too many shark fishing videos and once I get something in my head it doesn’t take long before the wheels start turning on how to make it happen. So me and the woman packed the truck with some camping and fishing gear and hit the highway. I lived in North Carolina for seven years with my mom and step father growing up but never made it to the outer banks; I didn’t know what it was at the time besides light houses, Black Beard and sand. It wasn’t till years later looking at my dad’s treasure hunting magazines that I became truly intrigued in the band of barrier islands at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean. The Graveyard of the Atlantic, the islands are littered with shipwrecks. Wind and waves continue to sculpt the islands on a daily basis. Never have I been to a place that the weather actually changes one second to the next. Warm and sunny; cool and breezy; cold, windy and rainy; hot and muggy. Anyways let’s get to the fishin’.
Day 1, April 27, 2016: After about a 15 hour drive and a quick muffler fix in the Autozone parking lot, we arrived in Morehead City and headed to Ft. Macon state park. A little bit of exploring the park and a nap in the sand and sun, then we headed to our campsite in the Croatan National forest and crawled into the back of the truck for a good nights sleep…well at least I did being exhausted from the drive. Taylor on the other hand tried in vain while fighting off mosquitoes, unfamiliar mugginess, and coffin like quarters.
Day 2, April 28, 2016: First day of fishing. I forgot to mention this wasn’t just my first time shark fishing but my first time surf fishing. So off to the bait shop for some advice. We ended up at Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, got some advice on surf fishing and with a bag of finger mullet, bait shrimp, surf sinkers, a shark rig, a few sea trout rigs, and some new hats, we headed for Ft. Macon. The Newport river dumps into the sea here also called the Beaufort inlet. After an hour or so of the finger mullets soaking in the salty sea, no luck. Then had a chat with a local fisherman next to us and was told to use a “Pin fish,” pretty much an ocean bluegill. So a Pin fish was attached to the giant circle hook on the shark rig and down he went. It wasn’t even ten minutes when I saw violent hits on the big rod and by the time I made it there, nothing. Reeling in the line I found just the head of the Pin fish. Now I was excited! “I’m in the right spot with the right bait,” I thought to myself. So out went another Pin fish. I said goodbye and thanks to the local I was chatting with, and he left us with a couple mullet he’d caught, which made a wonderful meal. It wasn’t long after he’d left when I saw the 11′ heavy surf rod bent over and throbbing. I ran to the rod, pulled it out of the holder, tightened the drag, waited for the fish to pull out the slack in the line, and slammed it to him! Just as I felt the weight of the fish, it surfaced. It was big, at least for someone who’s never had a shark on the end of his line. With a thrash of its head I’d felt that heart-sinking feeling of slack line. Just as soon it started it was over, but I was left shaking, shaking good like I’d had just arrowed a monster buck! I’d felt some emotions losing fish before (actually just about every fish that’s got away from me), but this was different, it was mixed with pure adrenaline and alot of it. I’m getting giddy thinking about it. Needless to say I was hooked right then and there. I could tell this was going to be one of those life long love affairs .
Day 3, April 29, 2016: After a pretty sleepless night on my part this time, fighting off mosquitoes and images of my shark swimming away, back to Ft. Macon. By now it’s Friday and the beach is starting to fill in with weekend warriors; Combined with a cold front the fishing starts to slow down. We catch a few pin fish and hog fish. With the cold came the rain and we headed to the Oceanana Fishing Pier in Atlantic Beach for lunch. Crab cakes and shrimp burgers with in house tarter and fries and I gotta say this was some of the best seafood I’ve ever eaten. Straight to the point-no messing around-crab cakes tasty as can be. And the shrimp fat and juicy on a fresh bun. Washed down with some freshly squeezed lemonade. mmm mmm mmm. We spent the rest of the day fishing the beach by the pier. No Sharks .
Day 4, April 30, 2016: It’s Saturday and the beach is busy and the fishing is real slooowww. After hours of rod watching, Taylor gets a bite and her best catch of the trip! It was a hard fightin’ fish kite, which was well needed entertainment. After an uneventful day, we headed to a fishing pier on the Newport River for some night fishing. And we caught some pin fish then some more pin fish and after that some more pin fish, but it was fun to catch anything after a dismal day and plus the cooler was full of shark bait.
Day 5, May 1st, 2016: Our last day here.We have to leave by noon so this morning is last chance shark, here sharky sharky sharky. We head to Ft. Macon and it’s elbow to elbow fishermen, fisherwomen and fisherchildern, holy crap. But we are out of options and time’s ticking. I fish hard to no avail. No fish and more important no shark.
I came into this with dreams of catching a shark in 5 days. This place is like most anywhere else. Local knowledge is always a huge advantage. The fishing spots are full of snags and anglers. Mother nature always has plans other than yours. The weekends are busy and you don’t always leave with what you came after. But you leave with something more: experience, stories, a new passion, and sand…lots of sand.
Photography by Saxton and Taylor.
All photography in this article is property of Saxtonoutdoors.com