by Eric Hause

North Carolina Coast

From the fresh waters of the rivers and estuaries, to the brackish expanse of the sounds and the depths of the Atlantic Ocean off coastal North Carolina is an angler's dream. Federal government studies reveal that chances of catching fish in North Carolina waters are the best on the East Coast. Of the 21 recorded catches of Blue Marlin in excess of 1,000 pounds, five have been off the North Carolina coast. The all-tackle world's record bluefish (at 31 pounds, 12 ounces) was caught off Hatteras in 1972. Need we say more?

Big game fish are cool. But the best thing about North Carolina is the variety of fishing options. Enough, in fact, that if you had a week' vacation, you could engage in a different type of fishing every single day. So let's go!

Monday: Go get your freshwater fishing license from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and head out for a day of river angling on the Cape Fear River near Wilmington. If you like, you can drop your line in at the River Road Park pier. Or rent a small powerboat for a day of trolling. Either way, you'll likely catch a few crappie or largemouth bass, catfish, and maybe some trout.

Tuesday: Grab your salt water rod and head up to Bogue Banks for an evening of pier fishing, one of the most popular types of fishing on the coast. Nine of North Carolina's 29 ocean piers jut into the Atlantic from Bogue Banks. For a small fee, you can drop a line over and fish the breaker line for flounder. Or stake out a spot at the end of the pier for king mackerel. All piers sell bait, and many rent rod, reel and tackle.

Wednesday: Take the Ferry over to Hatteras Island for a day of surf fishing at Cape Point, one of the most popular spots for surf fishermen in the world. On a busy day, you'll be lucky to find a parking space on the sand for your four-wheel drive (which is the only way to get there). But it's worth it! Here the Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador Current come together, bring hundreds of species of fish with them: cobia, tarpon, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, croaker, spot. Or, if you're really lucky, you'll hit Cape Point when the red drum are biting.

Thursday: Try your hand at saltwater fly-fishing, which is rapidly gaining popularity along the coast. Although it requires great skill, there are a number of guides who will take you out and share their passion for the sport with you. You can try your hand at it from the deck of small boat in the sounds or ocean, or from the beach.

Friday: Board one of the many inshore headboat charters on Roanoke Island that ply the waters of Pamlico Sound. These inshore charters offer all the equipment and bait you need for about $25. Headboats generally accommodate about 50 people of all skill ranges, and the mates and captain are always ready to lend a helping hand. Catch as much as you can carry-and the variety of species will amaze you! The sounds are brimming with croaker, trout, sea mullet, flounder, and spot.

Saturday: Board a headboat for some offshore fishing. These boats are generally the same as inshore charters, except they ply the shallow waters and wrecks just off the ocean beach. You'll have plenty of opportunity for catching bottom feeders, including black seabass, triggerfish, amberjack, grouper, and snapper. These headboats often hover just above the many wrecks and artificial reefs along the coast, where fish congregate to feed.

Sunday: You and six of your friends charter one of the offshore boats and head 40 miles to sea to play with the big boys. It's well worth the full day cost when the bluefin are plentiful, or someone snags a marlin. One of the best locations for offshore charters is The Point 37 miles off the Outer Banks. It's proximity to the Continental Shelf and warm Gulf Stream make it one of the best locations on the world for dolphin, tuna, mako, snapper, and even blue marlin.

And there you have it --a week of fishing in some of the best waters in the world!

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