Roanoke Island Fishing (Including Manteo Fishing and Wanchese Fishing)
Roanoke Island’s fishing history is notable in the overall legend of Outer Banks fishing. Manteo and Wanchese, the two towns on Roanoke Island, have been home to generations of families who made their living off the water through crabbing, oystering, clamming, shrimping and commercial fishing.
And Wanchese has, until recently when Oregon Inlet’s treacherous shoaling nature made it difficult to navigate with predictability, been the fish-processing capital of the Outer Banks. That commercial fishing business still occurs there but not at all at the same level as before.
What kind of Roanoke Island fishing can you do? Certainly the notorious Outer Banks surf fishing isn’t the draw, and there isn’t exactly a lot of pier fishing happening on the island (unless you count the gazebo that juts out from the waterfront boardwalk, which, if you’re a serious pier fishing angler, we wouldn’t recommend). What you do find here is an easily accessible point of debarkation for a variety of Outer Banks fishing charters, both inshore and offshore. The surrounding sounds and the island’s location very near Oregon Inlet make it the perfect location for fishing harbors, and there are several marinas on the island. Prices for a private, full-day, off-shore charter, usually accommodating six people, run $1,100 to $1,500 a day, not including a tip for the mate. Half-day inshore and inlet charters start around $375 and go up depending on the length of the trip and the type of fishing.
Roanoke Island fishing also includes the Zen-like experience of crabbing — an activity that every visitor should try, if only to make them relax and be very, very still for a little while. We don’t refer here to the business of crabbing where you set the crab pots that dangle from the colorful buoys you see dotting the sounds. No, indeed. That form of crabbing is very hard work. What we mean is the version of crabbing that requires only string, a few good chicken necks, a scoop net and quiet patience to be rewarded with the beautiful blue-shelled, sweet-eating crustaceans. Manteo’s waterfront is rimmed with a boardwalk that provides you with an endless number of locations to try your hand at this form of Outer Banks fishing. Check out our OBX Guides fishing section for more information on Outer Banks fishing.
- Docks at Pirate's Cove Marina
- (252) 473-5577
The Country Girl can be chartered for full-day Gulf Stream trips for parties of six or more people. Call for rates and schedules. Gulf Stream trips usually yield tuna and mahi-mahi, wahoo, king mackerel, marlin or sailfish depending on the season and conditions. The Country Girl also offers head boat–style wreck fishing. The 57-foot sportfisher can accommodate up to 30 passengers and provides plenty of room for everyone. This is a great way to get a big group of friends together for a day on the water. You’ll catch a variety of species, including black sea bass, triggerfish, gray tile fish, grouper, amberjack and more. The cost is $120 per person, with a minimum of 15 people. Bait, tackle and license are furnished. The Country Girl is also available for bird watching, marine mammal excursions, bachelor, bachelorette and scattering ashes at sea.
- Docked at Pirate’s Cove Marina
- (252) 473-5577
Whether for head boat fishing or cruises, check out the Crystal Dawn for a fun-filled and fabulous time on the water. This 65-foot head boat makes two half-day inshore fishing trips daily (every day except Sunday). Whether you take the morning or the afternoon trip, you’re guaranteed a great time. The boat fishes in the sound and inlet for a variety of inshore species including flounder, croaker, spot, trout, sea mullet, sea bass and more, depending on the season and conditions. All bait and tackle are provided, and a mate is on hand to assist you if you need it. There’s plenty of elbow room on a boat this large, so you won’t feel cramped. Tickets are sold in advance, but walk-ups are usually accepted. Head boat fishing prices are $45 for adults and $35 for children ages 10 and younger. The Crystal Dawn also makes one-and-a-half-hour evening cruises in the sound, including commentary on the local history and ecology of the Outer Banks. Roanoke Island Cruises are $20 adults and $15 children 10 and younger. The vessel can hold up to 100 people and is available for private charters, bachelor and bachelorette parties, family functions and more. Small coolers are welcome.
Bowsertown Road Boat Ramp
- Bowsertown Road
A Fish and Wildlife Service boat ramp is located off the western end of Bowsertown Road, past the Town of Manteo Public Works and Water Treatment facilities. Turn at the stoplight by the Chesley Mall, home of Food-A-Rama, and follow that road around to the left to find this boat ramp. There is plenty of parking for trailers.
Causeway Pier and Boat Ramp
- U.S. Highway 64
Beneath the Washington Baum Bridge on the Manteo side of the Nags Head/Manteo Causeway is a extensive public dock that makes a great spot for fishing or crabbing. Just bring your own tackle and supplies and drop your line. There are plenty of benches, making this a comfortable spot for old and young alike. There’s a two-slip boat ramp here, with abundant parking for vehicles and trailers.
Manteo Waterfront Boat Ramp
- At the end of Ananias Dare Street, Waterfront
A free public boat launch is located at the waterfront, right beside the bridge that leads to Roanoke Island Festival Park. Parking is located here, too, for easy access, but note that there is not much room for trailers.
- 708 Harbor Drive, Wanchese Seafood Industrial Park
- (252) 473-9991
OBX Marina offers centralized booking for offshore and inshore charter fishing. They have several boats in their fleet, and their booking service offers hassle-free, book-where-you-board convenience. OBX Marina offers many varieties of fishing charters, from full-day excursions to the Gulf Stream to half-day, light-tackle trips in the sound. They also offer several specialty fishing trips, including shrimping and crabbing charters. Feeling adventurous? How about a shark trip? OBX Marina even runs an overnight shark trip. You’ll find everything you need for a day of fishing at their ship’s store, from beverages, ice and snacks to bait, tackle, rods and reels. They also stock boating accessories, can fill your tank with gas or diesel fuel and carry maintenance supplies plus sunglasses, T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats (see Shopping). Ask about OBX Marina’s para-sailing and Jet skis operations, two new offerings for 2014. OBX Marina was also recently home base for a spin-off of National Geographic‘s hit reality series “Wicked Tuna.” “Wicked Tuna: North vs. South” fished Outer Banks waters from this Wanchese marina as part of filming for its 2014 season. The locally filmed shows will be aired later this year.
Pirate’s Cove Marina
- 2000 Sailfish Drive, Nags Head/Manteo Causeway, U.S. Highway 64
- Roanoke Island
- (252) 473-3906, (800) 367-4728
Escape from the same old beach routine and head over to Pirates Cove Marina and Yacht Club. Experience the thrill of a lifetime fishing from one of their offshore charter boats. Your adrenaline will be pumping listening to the scream of the drag while you are reeling in your tuna, dolphin, wahoo and marlin. Or book a near-shore trip and drop deep to catch tile fish, sea bass, trigger fish and grouper, or troll for Spanish mackerel and bluefish. No matter what you choose, Pirates Cove’s charter fleet will show you a great time. Back at the docks you can stop by the Pirates Cove Ships Store, where you’ll find a great selection of T-shirts, resort wear and one of the best selections of sunglasses on the Outer Banks.
Shallowbag Bay Marina
- 1100-B South Bay Club Drive
- (252) 305-8726
Shallowbag Bay Marina is a full-service 72-slip marina located just off the inter-coastal waterway on Roanoke Island in the town of Manteo. Boats up to 65’ can be accommodated, and the marina offers diesel and ethanol-free gas, 30/50 amp shore power, water and pump-out station. Slips are available for short- and long-term rentals and overnight transients. Shallowbag Bay Marina provides first-class facilities including a well-stocked ships store, showers, laundry, swimming pool, hot tub and a clubhouse with a fully equipped exercise room. Also on site is Stripers Bar and Grille, recipient of the 2013 and 2014 Taste of the Beach People’s Choice awards. In addition to the fantastic food, Stripers also offers breathtaking views of downtown Manteo and the Roanoke Sound. Downtown Manteo is within walking distance of Shallowbag Bay Marina.
Thicket Lump Marina
- 219 Thicket Lump Road, Wanchese
- (252) 473-4500
Way down on the south end of Wanchese in a beautiful location that’s only 5 miles from Oregon Inlet via water, Thicket Lump Marina sells gas and diesel fuel and has one of the best lunch spots on the island — Great Gut Deli (see Restaurants). If you’re out in your own boat, definitely stop here to fill your gas tank and your belly.
- 4457 Mill Landing Road
- (252) 473-3247
Wanchese Marina is located in the heart of Wanchese and is the home of several offshore fishing boats as well as Paradise Dolphin Tours.