While many beachgoers routinely plan a fishing trip as part of their vacation fun, others may not even know where to begin learning about the sport of fishing. Those who try it can become hooked on fishing for a lifetime, perhaps even making plans to retire or move to the beach once they have experienced the thrill of catching their own dinner from the briny blue.
The signs and sights of anglers having fun are everywhere. Yet, just how should visitors who have little or no knowledge about fishing actually get started? How can they learn basic fishing skills and discover the beaches' best honey holes? Here are some tips on where to find the right places, gear and tackle, and for speaking with seasoned fishing professionals, at Carolina Beach.
Carolina Beach has a lot to offer in the way of fishing. One of the best places to fish glistens right beneath visitors' cars as they drive onto the island from the mainland on U.S. 421. Snow's Cut is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and has great fishing from end to end.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Snow's Cut Boating Access Area is located on Spencer Farlow Drive at the eastern end of the cut. It has a public fishing area with a wooden pier. All anglers have to do is park and walk the planks to access the great fishing.
Carolina Beach State Park is located at the western end of Snow's Cut off Dow Road. It has a marina with a boat ramp that is open to the public, as well as a public fishing dock. While the fishing dock is located in the Cape Fear River, the banks of Snow's Cut within the park boundaries are also open for fishing. One of the main angler access paths in Carolina Beach State Park is located at the end of Bridge Barrier Road on the west side of the U.S. 421 Bridge. Before parking their vehicles and walking down to fish the cut, visitors should stop in at B&B Tackle and Seafood for tips on what fish are biting and the best rigs, bait and tackle to use for catching them. Along the north side of the cut, New Hanover County Snow's Cut Park has pavilions, restrooms and playground facilities, as well as parking areas where anglers can walk down to the bank and begin fishing.
A short drive south on U.S. 421, which becomes Lake Park Boulevard through Carolina Beach, will also take anglers by Island Tackle and Hardware, where the staff will share their knowledge of all types of fishing, from surf fishing to Gulf Stream trolling for big game species.
Continuing through the town on Lake Park Boulevard takes visitors past many public beach access areas on the east side of the road. These public access areas are marked with signs and have plentiful parking with wooden walkways that take anglers over the dunes to the oceanfront. Any of these accesses can host some great surf fishing.
The offshore boats at the Carolina Beach boat harbor have some of the best reputations in the state for loading anglers' ice chests with fish. Several party boats share the harbor with the "six-pack" fleet, which are charter boats licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard for taking up to six anglers for a day of bottom fishing or trolling. Anglers who have spur-of-the-moment, bottom-fishing trips in mind should check out the party boats moored along Carl Winner Drive at the south side of the boat harbor. On the west side of the boat harbor, the six-pack charter boats dominate the docks along Canal Drive. The boats begin returning around 4:00 pm most days. Anyone can watch as anglers and crews offload the day's catch.
Some half-day charter trips may return by lunchtime. To turn from a spectator into an angler, anyone can speak with the captains to see what days may be available and how to go about booking a trip.
Driving further north on Canal Drive and turning onto Salt Marsh Lane takes would-be anglers to the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier, where they can buy bait and tackle as well as gain expert advice for fishing from the pier.
At the north end of Carolina Beach, Canal Drive enters Freeman Park, which is one of the few places in North Carolina where anglers – or anyone else for that matter – can take their four-wheel drive vehicles for a spin on the beach strand. Anglers have access for surf fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and Carolina Beach Inlet. A kiosk at the park entrance sells daily and season-long beach driving passes, which are also available on the town's website.
B&B Bait and Tackle and Fresh Seafood, 1301 Bridge Barrier Rd., (910) 458-4644
Island Tackle and Hardware, 810 N. Lake Park Blvd, (910) 458-3049