May 24, 2024

Hardcore Game Fishing

Game Fishing News

Wanchese Fishing Guide: Complete Guide

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Fishing in Wanchese has a long legacy. Nestled on Roanoke Island, this town is a significant hub for the angling industry thanks to its strategic location. There’s the bustling Oregon Inlet nearby, along with the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and long lineages of seasoned fishermen.

From the calm waters of Croatan and Roanoke Sounds to the depths of the Gulf Stream, Wanchese promises an exceptional adventure for relaxed fishing enthusiasts and competitive anglers alike. Pair it with the distinctive warm Southern hospitality, and this North Carolina fishing town easily becomes a fishing paradise.

This guide will take you through Wanchese’s fishing culture, focusing on techniques, spots, and seasonality. You’ll also learn about the diverse array of fish species that patrol the local waters. Let’s get right to it.

What can I catch while fishing in Wanchese?

The list of potential catches says a lot about a place. In Wanchese, this list is pretty generous and incredibly diverse. There’s a lot for you to discover in the town’s different fishing environments, so let’s check ’em out…

Croatan and Roanoke Sounds

The Croatan Sound is located on the west side of the island, while the Roanoke Sound is to the east. However, the direction you go doesn’t really matter. The island is conveniently sandwiched between the NC mainland and the Outer Banks, allowing you to make the most of these productive inshore fishing grounds.


Two older men and one teenager pose on a fishing charter in front of a bridge in Wanchese, proudly presenting a Flounder they caught to the camera on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Reel Lucky OBX Charters

Flounder are real masters of camouflage. Spotting these creatures in the sandy bottoms of the sounds is a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Bottom fishing and gigging are the name of the game for Flounder fishing in Wanchese, and the local record stands at a whopping 20.3 pounds!

Locals enjoy targeting these fish for their unique physique and delicious taste. However, you’ll need to keep in mind that there’s a strict size and bag limit to ensure sustainability. The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) typically sets a minimum size of 15 inches, with one fish per person per day during the open season.


A group of anglers, probably in their early twenties, holding a Redfish each, while standing on some gravel after a successful fishing trip in Wanchese, as the sun sets on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Captain Froggy’s Charter Fishing

Also known as Red Drum, these fish are true gems of inshore fishing in Wanchese. Anglers target Reds around oyster beds and marshy areas, ready to battle these fish. Red Drum are famous for their feisty fight, especially if you’re after “Bull” Redfish. Locals say that the largest one caught in the area tipped the scales at 94 pounds!

Similar to Flounder, you’re allowed to keep one Redfish per day. The fish must be between 18 and 27 inches to be harvested, making sure the fish have had a chance to reproduce. If you land a bigger Red, make sure to release it back into the water as well, as they’re considered “old Drum.”


Things really heat up once you head out into the ocean. In fact, you don’t even need to go too far out to target bigger fish. Your opponents on the wrecks and reefs include Seabass, Tilefish, Bluefish, Cobia, and Mackerel, to name a few. And there are various artificial reefs and shipwrecks along the coast for you to explore.


An angler in a baseball cap, crouching and holding a Cobia caught while fishing nearshore in Wanchese, NC, with a charter boat behind him in the water
Photo courtesy of Cutawhiskie Charters #1

Cobia are, undoubtedly, a thrill to catch. These robust fish are known for their strength, challenging anglers of all skill and expertise levels. The local record of 116 pounds is a testament to the excitement Cobia fishing brings, especially to sight casting enthusiasts.

In order to help preserve the Cobia population, the NCDMF sets minimum size and bag limits each year. Typically, you can keep one fish per person or four fish per vessel per day, whichever is more restrictive. Before you head out, check out the most recent DMF proclamation or consult with your guide.


A father and son hold a Tilefish aboard a Wanchese fishing charter with the water behind them on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of C-Legs Sportfishing

The vibrant Golden Tilefish are among the most exciting catches the deepwater wrecks hold. These gorgeous creatures are famous for their taste and appearance, although their game qualities aren’t bad, either. While Tilefish are common bottom fishing targets, some captains may also offer deep dropping trips, which involve using electric reels.

Regulations typically state a minimum size of 16 inches for Tilefish, with a daily limit of one fish per angler. Just like Cobia, the NCDMF usually issues a proclamation each year, updating anglers on seasonal Tilefish openings and closures.

The Gulf Stream

Wanchese is located just 15 miles from Oregon Inlet, which is, in turn, just another 15 miles from the Gulf Stream. This productive jet of water is all about action and adventure, especially with Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna, and Marlin on the fishing menu! Let’s take a closer look…


Three anglers of varying ages, including a young boy, hold a large Tuna each while back on the dock after a deep sea fishing trip in Wanchese, NC, on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of Hayden Express Charters

Who wouldn’t want to brave the colder weather to take on Bluefin Tuna that can reach over 500 pounds? Wanchese offers access to some of the best Bluefin fisheries in the country, although you might need to commit to at least 8 hours on the water.

It’s not just Bluefin, though. Yellowfin Tuna also frequent the Gulf Stream, although not in the same numbers. Whenever the season allows, anglers hop on their boats and head out for some trolling or chunking action to land an adrenaline-pumping and delicious catch. It’s Tuna, after all!

Both Tuna species are federally protected, and the Bluefin regulations are especially complex due to overfishing. Since size and bag limits vary annually, it’s important to check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) guidelines.


Two anglers struggle to hold a Marlin from either end aboard an offshore fishing boat out of North Carolina on a sunny day with the Marlin bent and open ocean visible behind them
Photo courtesy of Hayden Express Charters

Last but not least, Billfish also grace Wanchese’s offshore grounds. Both Blue and White Marlin are on the menu, promising anglers the chance at the catch of a lifetime! If you’re lucky, you might even beat the local record of a colossal 1,142 lb Blue Marlin!

While there are minimum size regulations for both Marlins, only vessels with Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permits can keep Billfish. It’s a common practice to release your catch back into the water safe and unharmed.

How can I go fishing in Wanchese?

Depending on what you choose to go after in Wanchese, each fishing ground demands a unique set of skills, gear, and knowledge. From selecting the right bait to mastering the art of the cast, it’s never a bad idea to book a trip with a local guide.

There are various charter captains that cater to anglers of all skill levels and ages. If you’re a family on a vacation looking to explore the inshore grounds or a group of seasoned anglers in search of their next trophy, consider hiring a Wanchese guide to show you the ropes. Heck, even experienced anglers will make use of fishing next to a pro!

But, in the meantime, let’s talk about the most popular types of fishing in Wanchese so you know what to expect…

Shore Fishing

A group of anglers on a dock in Wanchese, with two pulling a boat towards the dock by a rope, two looking at the water, while the one to the furthest on the right casts a fishing rod into the water on a cloudy day
Photo courtesy of Outcast Fishing Charters OBX

Shore fishing in Wanchese is as versatile as it gets. You can cast a line from the banks of the sounds, head to the sandy beaches of the Outer Banks, or set up on one of the area’s piers. While you won’t be able to fish near the marshes and smaller islands of the sounds, you’ll still be able to fill your bucket.

Naturally, you’ll need to pack a versatile setup for Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder. A medium-to-heavy-action rod paired with a spinning or baitcasting reel works well for these species. Fresh shrimp, mullet, and cut bait are popular choices, along with artificial lures such as jigs and spoons. Depending on the season, topwater lures or popping corks can also help you lure the fish to the line.

Inshore Fishing

A father stands on a fishing boat, as one of his daughters fishes off the side of it in the shallow waters of Wanchese, and the other daughter looks on, perching over the side of the boat on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Waymaker Charters – Gratitude (22′ Pontoon)

Fishing the Croatan and Roanoke Sounds provides an exceptional inshore experience. Light-to-medium tackle is often suitable here, with spinning setups being particularly effective for the stealth and precision needed. Plus, inshore trips are perfect for families with younger kids or first-time anglers, as you should have more casting opportunities when fishing the sounds.

Reds and Flounder aside, you can also target Sheepshead near the causeway and try your hand at trolling for local Striped Bass. Live minnows or soft plastic lures that mimic bait fish are great choices for Flounder and Reds. If you’re targeting Stripers, consider casting topwater plugs or swimbaits in the early morning or late evening.

Reef and Wreck Fishing

A view from behind as an angler struggles with his bent fishing rod in the nearshore waters of North Carolina with another boat visible in the distance on a clear day
Photo courtesy of Outcast Fishing Charters OBX

Wanchese’s wrecks and artificial reefs are home to Cobia and Tilefish. Naturally, you’ll need heavier gear for these brutes. Medium-to-heavy-action rods, paired with large capacity reels capable of handling heavier weights and greater depths are a must.

As for bait, consider menhaden or pinfish for Cobia and cut bait and squid to entice that Tilefish bite. Reef and wreck fishing trips can also be family-friendly. Just make sure to check with your guide in advance if they cater to younger anglers.

Deep Sea Fishing

A view out the back of a fishing boat, with four trolling lines trailing behind, and a man visible, looking out at the wake of the boat on a sunny day
Photo courtesy of C-Legs Sportfishing

A lot of Gulf Stream trips turn into a serious battle of stealth and strength, with massive Bluefin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Marlin in the cards. To lure these game fish, you’ll need heavy-duty trolling rods and high-capacity conventional reels. For Tuna and Marlin, locals prefer trolling artificial lures or rigged ballyhoo, or kite fishing and chunking.

Even though it’s a relatively short ride to the action, Wanchese deep sea fishing trips might not be the most family-friendly option. They require a longer boat ride than inshore charters, spending a whole day on the water. Not only that, but the waters can get choppy – especially during Bluefin season.

Wanchese Fishing Seasons

Speaking of seasons, there’s plenty more to know about. There’s a time and tide for everyone in Wanchese – from landing a massive Tuna in winter to Flounder fishing in summer. October and November are best for trolling for Striped Bass in Croatan Sound, while Tuna peaks from January to March. Here’s a quick breakdown of the Wanchese fishing seasons:

  • Spring. As winter recedes, the sounds come alive with Redfish, Speckled Trout, and Flounder, while offshore anglers get ready for the first run of Yellowfin Tuna in the Gulf Stream. As the waters warm up, Cobia also begin to show up.
  • Summer. Wanchese becomes an angler’s utopia in the summer. Amberjack and Kingfish follow bait fish to the reefs, while the offshore waters are a hub for Marlin, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi. The inshore grounds are teeming with Flounder and Redfish, and beach anglers can reel in Pompano and Spanish Mackerel. It’s all go!
  • Fall. Come fall, large schools of Bull Redfish patrol the sounds and shoreline, while the seasonal arrival of Striped Bass signals the season’s change. Offshore, you can still look for Wahoo and Marlin.
  • Winter. Winter fishing sees anglers focused on pursuing Striped Bass in Roanoke Sound and Mill Landing Creek, as well as Bluefin Tuna in the chilly offshore waters when the weather allows.

Top Wanchese Fishing Spots

A view across the water towards a center console fishing boat, drifting along the inshore waters of Wanchese, as an angler fishes off the back of it, with a bridge and sandbar visible in the distance
Photo courtesy of Stick Em Fishing Adventures

Before we let you go, there’s just one more important thing to cover. In the world of fishing, picking the right location is essential for a successful catch. Wanchese, with its diverse environments, has a bounty of spots to cast a line in. You can drift a bait in the sounds, battle a giant in the bluewater, or just cast from the shore, as we’ve already mentioned. So, the inlet and sounds aside, here’s a list of Wanchese fishing spots for you to consider:

  • Wanchese Harbor Marina. This is the perfect gateway to the Roanoke Sound, located right in the heart of Wanchese. As you leave the marina behind, you’ll be able to cast for Flounder and Redfish in less than a minute!
  • Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park. This park offers public access to the Roanoke Sound, along with the waters of Broad Creek. While it’s mostly used for inshore fishing, the Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park is also a good spot for crabbing and clamming.
  • The Outer Banks. Technically, the OBX isn’t really in Wanchese. However, it’s located a short boat ride away. If you’re after something a little bit different, try surf fishing for Bluefish in Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills.
  • Offshore Wrecks and Reefs. As we mentioned earlier, Wanchese’s offshore waters are home to reefs and shipwrecks, which, in turn, hold good numbers of anything big and tasty. The list begins with Cobia and Tilefish, and ends with various types of Grouper.
  • The Gulf Stream. You can access the Gulf Stream from practically any marina in town. It’s the perfect playground to battle large big game species like Tuna and Marlin.
  • Mill Landing Creek. It’s not always about offshore fishing, though. This quiet little nook is located near the northern tip of Wanchese, offering excellent kayak fishing opportunities for Redfish and Speckled Trout.
  • Old House Channel. Old House Channel cuts through Roanoke Island, offering a list of good spots to cast for Redfish and Trout.

Wanchese Fishing FAQs

Fishing in Wanchese: A World Beneath the Waves

A view across a misty landscape near Wanchese, with yellow, cloudy skies above and some trees visible in the foreground and sticking out of the mist

There you have it. You now know that Wanchese offers more than just a fishing expedition. It’s a perfect harmony of fishing and connecting with nature. Fishing in Wanchese is all about the thrill of the fight and the prize of the catch. So, if you’re ready, pack your gear, book a trip with a local captain, and come on down to Wanchese. The fish are biting, and the waters await your arrival.

Have you ever been fishing in Wanchese? What’s your favorite spot? Share your fish stories with us in the comments below. We love to hear from you!

The post Wanchese Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Wanchese Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From:
Published Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2023 14:20:37 +0000

Share This