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Hatteras Village is the fishing capital of the Atlantic Coast : from the beach, fishing piers, small boats back on the glassy sound, six person charter boats far out on the Gulf Stream, and "head" boats carrying 40 people out on the sound or ocean for half a day or all day. There are many kinds of fish caught here, world records have been set in almost every one, and fishermen come from everywhere to try their luck. No Hatteras visit is complete without at least one fishing session.

But it's expensive. There's no way to avoid the cost. It helps if you've been coming here or somewhere else for years and already own your own fishing equipment. If not, even if you're just going to fish off the beach, you have to rent the equipment. You have to buy the bait. You have to hire a guide to teach you how to fish and use his four wheel drive beach buggy to take you to a section of beach he knows is currently hot. All of this adds up.

But all of these guides, fishing boats, piers and shops offer sales and discounts, especially if you come in early June, before the crowd. If you buy the equipment and come here or somewhere else along the coast several times, it becomes a very reasonable investment.

If you're bringing children, the fishing aspect of your vacation can really add to the educational value. In the months before you go, kids can research the kinds of fish that are here, which ones will be feeding when you're here, what they eat, and what determines when they feed. That will take them into temperatures, salinity, currents, depth, light conditions, tides and migration. By reading up on the bait, they start putting together the food pyramid and before long they're constructing the whole ecosystem.

Then there's the skill involved. You can take freshwater equipment back home, lay a few old tires in your backyard, and practice casting. There's a real trick to the wrist flick and the arm motion a lot of kids aren't learning anymore and this is a good time to teach it to them.

The Red Drum Tackle Shop on Route 12 in Buxton is the center of fishing on the island. They sell everything you'll need, do whatever servicing you'll need, and provide whatever advice you'll need. The main charter fleet is down at Hatteras Harbor, with a few more at Kinnakeet and another dozen at Oregon Inlet. But for pier and beach fishing, the Red Drum Tackle Shop is your base of operations. We'll be referring to it throughout this section. Here, an employee is unwinding an old line and winding a new line onto a reel. Yes, you could do this yourself at home on your deck, but it would take you quite a while, and the shop does it in five minutes. The Red Drum Tackle Shop is across the street from the entrance to the Hatteras Lighthouse & Campground.
Many longtime Hatteras vacationers schedule a charter boat trip each week, fish the surf each morning and the piers each evening. They bring a styrofoam or heavy duty plastic or metal cooler with them and take it home full of fish packed in dry ice. With even a little bit of skill you can take enough fish home to provide one seafood meal a week for the 50 weeks until your next Hatteras trip.
A significant part of fishing is taking care of the equipment. The photo below left shows a 1960s rod and reel handed down from my Dad which I still use. It works fine, but to last this long it has needed thoughtful care. The center photo shows the two PVC tubes we carry our rods and reels around in. We pack them in these and carry the PVC tubes to the beach or the pier before removing the rods and reels. Ironically, this equipment can handle large fish but snap easily when being carried. The third photo shows us rinsing the equipment after each use. Saltwater can damage equipment quickly. If you want yours to last, the saltwater needs rinsed off. Every day, sometimes twice a day, we rinse everything off.
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