Lake Norman & Mooresville

Cape Hatteras surf fishing is great this season

The tourists are gone, the gift shops closed and temperatures can be as much as 60 degrees cooler than they were in August. So why would anyone want to go to Cape Hatteras in November?

The answer is simple: great surf fishing. A group that calls itself the Blues Brothers has been making the trip for decades – 41 years, to be exact. Even though fishing is better some years than others, the fun and fellowship is always great.

Like other anglers who fish the surf, the Blues Brothers target red drum, bluefish, flounder, trout and stripers. This year’s mainstay was red drum. Just as a thunderstorm was approaching from the south, Bill Mullis, from Charlotte, caught one estimated to be 45 pounds. While everyone else hoped to also catch one that big, the majority of the fish measured between 15 and 30 inches. That size, known as “puppy drum,” is excellent table fare, particularly when blackened in a hot skillet. The only problem is that the legal creel limit is one fish per day that measures between 18 and 27 inches.

Asked about Outer Banks surf fishing in general, John Alden Sr., one of the original Blues Brothers said, “Red drum fishing is the best it has been in decades.” He credits the improvement , both recreational and commercial, to the stringent regulations imposed by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. Alden referenced a night fishing trip a few years back when he and son, John Jr., landed 11, 40-plus pound bull red drum between sunset and 10:30 p.m. Several other members of the Blues Brothers participated in that same fishing frenzy.

While North Carolina is known for fabulous red drum fishing, big striped bass steal the spotlight from time to time. John Sr. remembered a trip about 15 years ago, when he actually tired of catching citation size (35-pound or larger) striped bass. These trophy fish were taken from the surf by anglers casting crocodile and other heavy metal spoons.

Historically, the colder the winter, the better the (winter) fishing along the North Carolina coast. If November’s weather is any indication of things to come, fishing in the coming months should be excellent.

Tip from Capt. Gus

For current fishing reports from Hatteras Island, visit or

Hot spots

Cold weather has slowed the fishermen, but not the fish. Hybrid striped bass fishing has been very good, particularly when casting lures under diving sea birds. White perch are hitting minnows and Sabiki rigs. The bigger fish are suspended in 30 to 40 feet of water near drops offs. Perch have also moved into the hot holes at the McGuire and Marshall power plants. Spotted and largemouth bass fishing is very good while they’re feeding in shallow water early in the day.

Stocking stuffer

Rapala’s Shad Rap Fishing Lure (SR5): This lure, available at local tackle shops for $6.99, dives to 7 feet and is excellent for casting or trolling for bass.

Lake conditions

Lake Norman is mostly clear with surface water temperatures mainly in the 50s and low 60s in open waters not affected by power generation. The water level is about 2.9 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 2.5 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake.