Oregon Inlet is the only navigable inlet to and from the Atlantic Ocean along a 150 mile stretch of coast from the Virginia line to Hatteras.
A run to the Gulf Stream is shorter from here (averaging 30-45 miles) than from most other East Coast inlets and ports . Here, the Atlantic Ocean meets the Croatan and Pamlico sounds through a wide breach between Bodie Island and Pea Island.
The combination of bottom structure on the continental shelf and the gulfstream current and eddies provide year round fishing. You can catch blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, blackfin tuna, dolphin, wahoo and more. Charter trips to the Gulf Stream are always full day trips.
You can fish nearshore or inshore which generally means passing under the bridge but fishing within sight of land. Opportunities abound for bluefish, Spanish mackerel, King Mackeral, cobia, false albacore, etc. Deepwater bottom fishing off the wrecks, towers and artificial reefs for amberjacks, grouper, tilefish, sea bass, triggerfish etc are another opportunity. In the winter months, striper fishing is fantastic off Oregon Inlet. During the spring, striped bass can be caught on light tackle in the sounds. Charters for near shore, inshore and sound fishing can be booked by the day or half-day. You can also go headboat fishing for a nice introduction to sound fishing in Oregon Inlet.
You can stay in the sound on a charter boat or bring your own boat to fish the inlet. Many folks who have lived here all their lives will only fish in the inlet and never venture beyond the bridge. The inlet inside the bridge is great in particular for family fishing. Rig up a few bottom rigs, pack a cooler and spend the day. Davis Channel, Old House channel, Green Island and more are famous for flounder, sea mullet, croakers, speckled trout, spot and more. If you’re a kayak or small boat or light tackle fisherman, the sound waters of Oregon Inlet are perfect. Just mind your water depths and be careful. The inlet changes all the time.
If you are fishing on a charter boat or headboat out of Oregon Inlet you do not need a fishing license. However, if you are fishing in your own boat you do. You also need to read the size limit regulations because they change all the time.
Oregon Inlet is a destination for fishing and boating but it is so much more. The high-rise Bonner Bridge is the lifeline from the northern Outer Banks to Hatteras Island and Ocracoke. Oregon Inlet allows passage of boats to and from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, the commercial fishing industry in Wanchese and the waterways beyond. In fact, Oregon Inlet is critical to the commercial fishing and other marine related industries of the Outer Banks.
Oregon Inlet (and Hatteras Inlet) opened up during a giant hurricane in 1846. Legend has it that a fishing boat named the “Oregon” was swept up in the hurricane and first discovered the new inlet. Since that time, the inlet has constantly changed. The barrier islands continue to migrate south and as they do they change the structure of the inlet. Storms and weather conditions create treacherous currents at the mouth of the inlet or move the channel by depositing sand creating shoaling. Dredging is an ongoing process to keep the inlet navigable. Studies show that the inlet is now 2 miles south of its original location in 1846.
A recent study showed that allowing the inlet to close would cost the Outer Banks area over $680 million in lost revenue. The United States Coast Guard established a station here in 1874. Charter fishing on the Outer Banks did not start until the 1930’s. A few commercial fishermen realized they could offset their down times with trips for “fun fishermen”. WWII intervened and fun fishing was over. Then in the 1950’s it picked back up again.