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Pier and Surf Fishing in the OBX

four men surf fishing with cloudy weather

Hunter is joined by Mike Smith and Owen Bradley to discuss pier and surf fishing in the OBX. Mike and Owen are both pros at Green Top and they share their advice and stories regarding this popular style of fishing.

The Outer Banks is known to be a fishing destination. As technical as it all sounds, Mike and Owen simplify things in this episode. So, whether you are a beginner looking to learn a new thing, or an experienced angler who is curious, tune in to this episode.


Honey fishing and all things outdoors. It's not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle. Welcome to the Greentop Outdoors Podcast with your host, Hunter Brooks.

Alright, welcome to another episode of the Greentop Outdoors podcast. Interesting topic today. We haven't really done this before. We're talking about pier fishing and a little bit of surf fishing. And to my right is Mike Smith, longtime veteran of Greentop, and to my left is one of our new associates. Owen. Owen, you have quite a background in this too, but extensive background, but younger age. Yes sir. You in fact, you could be Mike's grandson son. One could say that I'm not quite that old, but thank you. Close. So how's it going today, guys? You guys doing all right? Going well? Well, pretty well. We try to do as many fishing topics as we can and this has always been, I've always been a fan of pier fishing and surf fishing because whenever I go to the beach I see guys doing it. Some people don't have much success with it.

A lot of people that do have success with it know what they're doing. I agree. And I would say the people that don't have success just probably just don't know exactly what they're doing with it. That's true. Yeah. So we're going to talk about some pointers and some tips because the vacation season's coming soon. It's a popular thing to do while you're at the beach. You might do it one day, you might do it every day. Let's start with the pier fishing. Okay, so right now I just got back from being down this past Saturday. The pier are on fire. There's a great blue fish pipe going on right now and if you want to catch blue fish, the best thing you use off of pier is going to be what they call a gotcha plug. Buy 'em at one ounce, seven eighths ounce or five eighths ounce.

We sell about every color here and the bite can change daily depending on the color. When I was down this path week one afternoon I caught over 40 in an hour and a half off of gotcha plug. I mean it was one after the other. Now you guys know locals, so you have an easy way to figure out what's bit and when. Pretty quickly. I normally get phone calls and you get phone calls. Text messages isn't right. One social media, social media texts, make connections, but to someone who's going down there on vacation and they want to know what's going on right now, other than asking somebody if they need to stop at Greentop before they hit the beach and buy some things, where can they obtain information? Is there any particular websites or, yeah, so there's a lot of different websites in there. One of the best things to do is to go to the peers websites herself.

So Rodanthe Pier has a website, Avon Pier has a website, OBX peer, all of 'em have websites on their websites. You can learn a lot about what you need. The other thing is Facebook. So if you go to Facebook, you're probably going to see daily catches, you'll know what they're catching and if you have some questions, call the peers. They're more than welcome to help you. And for anybody listening who doesn't know what region we're talking about, we're talking about the outer banks of North Carolina. A phenomenal place to visit, great place to catch fish. Just fantastic place. It's been going since I was a kid. It's a wonderful place

That's pure fishing in the world.

There you

Go. And Outer Banks is known for its pier and surf fishing all up and down the east coast. I mean it's one of the few places you can go in the springtime like now and in the fall and catch big red drum from the surf from the piers. It's free for places you can do that. When I talk about big drum, I'm talking 40 inch plus. Just recently Avon Pier opened up, I believe May 4th opening day. They caught Kobe, nice sized fish, definitely a keeper. Then Orange

Delicious fish too.

Oh it is. It's excellent eating. Yes. And then that Saturday they had a big school of red drum come through and they caught several most of 'em off of Bucktails. They did catch some off of drum rigs, which are

All sight casting. Yeah,

They did catch some off of bait, but they did catch a whole bunch of them. Just a couple days ago I got a video from down there showing two big schools of Red Drum headed north. Right, just north of Diamond Sho. So they're still coming up the beach. They're still coming up to the northern beaches, so if you think they're gone, it's in full swing right now.

Nice. Owen, you've spent some summers down there?

I have past three summers I've lived down there, worked at Oceans East, fished about every day I could. I wasn't working

Nice. Anything down there? You prefer fishing more than the other? You fishing the sound or you like going off shore

Fishing? The sound a little bit offshore a decent bit. Definitely. My thing is Kobe fishing and king macro fishing on the peers

For sure. Nice. And is there a particular pier you go forward? Just

So either Jeanette's P or pier. Next up here was Avalon Pier while growing up and stuff, but fortunately that broke and it's not rebuilt. So

Further down South Mike, you're usually down at Rodanthe or Avon.

I fish you the road an or Avon depending on what the water levels are right now. Avon's got deeper water on the end, so if I'm going to use a pen rig or what we call a live bait rig, I'm probably going to go to Avon until the shoal that's in the verdant digs itself out, which it could be dug at when I go back down next week. It changes constantly down there. Changes

Every day. So what do you guys see most traditional things to must haves when you're going to go to the pier and do a fishing? Now some things you can probably buy at the pier, but if you're getting it before you go, what are some things that you must have

Nothing against the piers. I would try to come to Greentop and buy your tackle before you go because the piers are pretty expensive. They're upcharge

You like crazy,

But yeah, and Owen worked at Oceans East, but even if you go down to Oceans East, it's going to be more that's going to be here because of where you're at. It's go locale. Sure. Definitely need 10, 40 bottom rigs. Bottom fishing is a big thing off the piers and we sell those every day. You need what I call a gotcha plug and a gotcha plug raw. That's a must. If you blue fish Spanish Mac will show up. You have to have it. I mean if you don't have it, you're not going to catch 'em. Yeah, those are must haves. Bait.

Is it more opportunistic when you're fishing off the pier? When we go fishing freshwater, we're going small mouth fishing. Right. That's what we're going for. But when you're on a pier, it's not like you're, I mean you can go after Kobe if they're there.

Well, you got to remember when you own a pier, the fish have to come to you. Correct. You can't. Jason,

Conditions are everything you want to east wind, southeast, northeast, it's all wind dependent. Southwest, that water's going to get cold and muddy. You're not going to see a thing. There you

Go. And during the summertime, if you've got in the fall, you want cold and muddy for drum, you want cold and muddy, you're going to catch fish. Summertime, you want clear, you want, like I said, east or southeast wind. You want something that's going to keep that water clear. For sure. They catch tarping down there in the summer. A lot of people don't realize that, but tarping the cart every year and a lot of tourists who go down there are people that are on vacation and they'll go to the end of the pier and you'll see a bunch of people out there with their rods standing straight up and these lines going down with that's live bait fishing, what they call pen rigging. Don't be embarrassed or think you don't belong there. Ask questions. I know for a fact anybody on road, Anthony will help you get started in that if that's what you want to try and that's just if I'm there,

Well there's nothing else to do. Right. You're just waiting. Right, right, right, right. Well there's other things. You could be drinking beer,

Right? Yeah. That wouldn't probably happen. Yeah, that's part of pier fishing is drinking beer. I'm actually probably better at that than I am actually fishing, but pier fishing, it's one of those things you're kind of waiting for the fish to come to you. Time of year is everything. Summertime is harder to catch fish, especially bottom fish than I'd say the spring and the fall. Spring and the fall. You can go there and catch mullet when a mullet runs on until you cool is full

Back on the don't be afraid to ask people. Some of my lifelong best friends I met just on the end of the pier, some of the nicest guys I've ever met. Just if you don't know, go over there and ask somebody. Just talk to guarantee they're going to be nice. Help

Information mean there's nobody out there that's like, I'm doing this, you can't do it. We want more people to do it.

Yeah. It's nobody that doesn't want you to catch a fish.

Fish, hey, you're in a more of a confined area versus surf fishing, which we'll get into that in a minute and so hey, you might as well strike up a conversation. You never know who you're talking to. You never know what you could learn and what stories you might be able to hear or what sort of tips you might be able to get. Right.

I run a lot of their customers on end of road Urian, on end, Avon Pier. They'll come out there. I have a big green type stick on one of my coolers. Most of 'em see that. They'll strike a conversation up. They're familiar with Greentop and I'll start talking to 'em and think, oh yeah, yeah, you sold me such and such.

So anything. Owen, what do you like? Fishing off the pier, anything in particular

That definitely kobe's in King. Yeah, just those. Nothing better than sitting down there on a perfect East wind day, Jim, clear water, you can count the grains in the sand and all of a sudden big black gray comes around and loaded down. The Kobe is then adrenaline of grabbing your bucktail rod. Slinging your bucktail down there and hoping you can get a bite. There's nothing better that now

Is it a fight to catch that fish between you and about maybe 10 other guys?

Of course it is. Then you always have people that are going to bomb it. You're going to have the fish shoots the pier on you, wrap you around. You're going to have fish that don't eat and then it's all the above and everything can go wrong. It can get

Sporty pretty quick. Yeah.

The worst case scenario is you catch the fish, you get him to the pier and somebody misses him with a net and he breaks off. That's about the worst thing can happen.

Sure. Now what about pier fishing etiquette? I'm sure there's plenty of that. If somebody's got a big fish on, get the hell out of their way. Right, of

Course. Yeah. If somebody has a big fish on and you need to stay square on the fish, so if the fish goes to surf, you need to stay with it. Stay square on him. Normally we try to have somebody in front of the guy that's actually catching the fish. You tell people, please move. Please move. People are very good about that. They don't have a problem with it.

That's good. If

You follow your fish and don't cast straight and don't cross anybody, you're going to be good. Yeah.


One thing about pure fishing I'll add too is if you peer fish, you're going to cross other lines. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. Best thing to do is and just say chalk it up to pure fishing, it's going to happen. That's right. It's no big deal. It's nothing to get upset about. Just deal with it.

There you go. What about surf fishing? Yeah, I know it's always popular. I see people doing that. I mean it's more popular down south I would say. Correct. Sure.

Yeah. It is mean known for surf fishing and the point is known for surf fishing right now. The point is shoulder to shoulder, it's

On fire right now. Really? Yeah.

A lot of big drum being caught.

Point buxton

In Buxton ramp


Okay. And there's a lot of chop

That's jammed up right now. Oh

Yeah. It's shoulder to shoulder there. A lot of big chopper blues being caught. When I say that I'm talking 34 or 36 inch fish, nice fish, but all up and down the beach, they're catching 'em. They're catching 'em. I just got word

Catch 'em in the sound on Sunday sitting there on the end of the little bridge and all these schools come by about 25 inches and having a blast all day long.

I just got word this morning. They're already in Virginia Beach, so they're coming north and they're starting to catch some chopper blues there, but they're still catching 'em down south. They're still catching big drum at the point, but not just the point. A lot of people think, well the point 43, they're catching them ramp 55, they're catching 'em. 50

Fives been good

Now. I did fish 25 last Wednesday. We didn't do a lot on big fish. We caught a lot of fish, but we didn't catch a lot of big fish. But there is a huge slew, which I probably shouldn't be telling people this because some of my friends lived in there are not going to be happy. But there is a huge slew at 25 that's running about 400 yards down the beach and it's really deep. So it's a good spot to be at. Like I said, I'll be back down there Wednesday and I'll find it if people will listen to this podcast and not depending on how many people walk 25.

We can delay this if you

Want. No, no, no. We're fine.

As far as ideal tackle to take for surf fishing, I mean it's similar to peer fishing or mean, is it certain mean you got to be prepared for low tides, high tides? I mean, what do you got to be prepared

For? So everybody has own tides. I like to fish high tide or the incoming and the fallen tide. That's my favorite tide to fish.

I'm an outgoing tide guy.

Outgoing. Yeah, he's outgoing, but everybody has their favorite tide. They like to fish. Yep. Surf fishing, same thing. You need a 10 40 bottom rig. Anywhere from a two to a four ounce sinker depending on the day. If you're going after puppy drum, you need a what they call a fish finder rig breezy to figure out. You can look it up online. We sell 'em here in the store and you can catch a puppy drum on that. You can catch the big chopper blues on it if you want to cast. I would suggest getting some sting silvers and maybe a eight to 10 foot raw with a fast tip.

Yeah. Rods are going to be pretty similar to the pier. Maybe a tad bit longer, but yeah, I'd stay between that seven to 12 foot range. Just all about casting distance. You can be uncomfortable.


If you do, now I'm going to just say this. If you do go to the point and you want to fish, do not take braided line. Sure. You'll not make friends at the point if you have braided

Line. That's one thing to not do.

And a lot of people, they question that and they want to know why. Well why is because braided line will cut monofilament line like a knife and somebody has a fish on and lose it because you're a braided line. It's not a good way to make friends. No mono to mono usually will not cut. It might wrap, it might tangle. That's okay. Everybody can deal with that. Yeah,

But cut. You can't deal with that.

Most of the piers do not allow braided line. So if you are going down and you plan on pier fishing and you're bringing your own equipment, keep in mind they don't allow braided line kind of for the same reasons. But the other reason is too, if braided line gets hung up on a pile and you have to cut it because you can't break it. Well that braided line just hangs there and then anybody else that cast down there can get tangled into it.

Those are the south beaches. And the north beaches. You'll be found with braid like Jeanette Nagshead Avalon, you'll be found with braid. Everybody runs braid out there. But don't take it to a south pier. You won't make many friends.

No, you will not.

Good to know. Right.

Also, just on a note too, I know Ramp 23 is closed right now. So if you go down and you want to go on 23, it is not open.

Well, and plus if you're going to surf fish, if you're going to go out on the beach, if you've never done it before, there's certain steps you should probably take if you're going to drive out on the beach for sure. Right. I mean you've still got to get the permit and all that,

Get a permit,

But you can get that beforehand and pick up when you arrive.

Something like 50 bucks a

Year. Yeah. Something like that.

Simple. It's

50 bucks for a 10 day pass. It's one 50 for the yearly pass.

One 50 for the whole

Year. Yeah. The way you do it now is you will go to when your local tackle shops, whether it be haters jacks or Franken Fran, the fishing hole, and they'll actually give you a card and you'll go on your phone and you will put your information in and you will hand write it on that card. And that's what you'll have until you actually get your decals. And that card has to be displayed in your window while you're on the beach. If you're going to drive on the beach and you haven't done it before, you need to make sure you air your tires down. You

Seen it happen?

Do it. You want to be somewhere around 25 to 20 pounds and it sounds low, but if you don't air down and you get stuck at a minimum, if you have to call a tow truck, it'll probably be $250

And you're there for a long time. You're

Stuck. And then you're that guy when go past you, they're going to point at you and they're going to say, look, that's the guy that didn't.

And then you're going to be popping up on an Instagram page. Right,

Right. I mean there's a saying down there, air down, don't be a clown. Right. Yeah.

You got stickers for it. They're free at Oceans East just to make sure

You do it. That's right. And when you go to drive on the beach and everyone's pulled over taking air out of the towers, you should probably do the same thing. Right.

Four wheel drive, not all wheel drive.

And if you don't, you're not sure, man, ask people at the beach, you're pretty laid back. They're pretty chill. They are. They'll help you out. And nobody wants to see anybody get stuck. Nobody wants to help somebody get unstuck either.

Right. And you don't want to be the guy that gets stuck because then you

On lots of bad things can happen. You could burn up a transmission, you could just watch your vehicle go away in the ocean.

And Owen made a really good point. All wheel drive is not four wheel drive. So

Keep that in mind. I've been in the car for that mistake.

Yeah. All wheel drive. So if you have all wheel drive and you want to drive on the beach, you might want to reconsider. Yeah.

Well let's recap back to pier fishing. We were talking about the tackle for that. Any particular brand or reels, broads, anything you like in particular?

Everybody has a favorite. I'm a big dial guy. I had really good luck with Dial. There are a lot of pen guys. I'm getting ready to venture into the world, what they call van stall. Van stall is probably the toughest saltwater reel made. We are currently going to start carrying them at Greentop now they are pricey, but they are well worth it. You

Paid hundred percent worth it,

But you get what you for. Oh and I'm sure it was probably maybe a Shio guy or pin

Guy. Shimano van stall. Yeah.

Yeah. I'm really a dial guy.

You can't go wrong with any of 'em though. No.

As long as you buy quality rod and reels. You can go on Amazon and you can buy fishy fun and these cheap brands on Amazon. But keep in mind that's what you're buying. Okay. You may save a few dollars but you're getting plastic gears. It may look the same, but it's not the same.

Yeah. Oh sharks, we need to talk about sharks.

A whole lot of them.

Well I get asked every year when I'm pen rigging on the end of the pier or live bait fishing. Are there sharks here? It's the ocean. Yeah. There sharks here. Yeah, it's the ocean. There's sharks there. Last year the black tips were really bad, so we caught more sharks than I could count. But sharks, it's the sharks world. I mean he's the number one predator in the ocean. That's right. You can't avoid catching him. But some of 'em, like black tip sharks are really good to eat. So you want to keep those. Shark knows sharks are good to eat, but sharks are always going to be there and you're always going to catch 'em back

To the surf fishing for the sharks. So I got a kayak for my birthday last year. Me and all my buddies thought it'd be a really good idea to take that kayak out, paddle out shark baits a couple hundred yards. Boy do we get addicted? Oh yeah. We did it for probably about a month, probably a couple times a week. And I think we ended the summer with four or five sand tigers over seven feet. Oh wow. And too many black tips to count and one bull shark. It was pretty awesome. That is


Double hookups. You go to Oceans East or Tws, you pick up a whole Albacore.

We y'all just sit around a campfire. Think of this idea and just, man, look, we have to try this YouTube.

That's been done for a while as far as paddling baits out. Sure. I personally think it's pretty stupid.

I wasn't the one in the kayak.

It is not my thing. It's not even something I would consider doing. But me and sharks have no problems. He stays in the water and I'll stay on land. He just got to

Respect the shark

Man. You do have to respect the shark. Yeah. Now I will say this, they're a lot of fun to catch. Yeah.

They give you a run for your money for sure.


They do. What's the most common thing you catch on a pier and in the surf? Owen, you go first. What's the most common to you? So

Bottom fish definitely goes spot Croker, sea mullet. And then anything else be a blue fish or a Spanish mackerel.

Okay. That's the most common thing you'd catch. Okay. Would you agree on that Mike? Or

Pure fish and spot cro or sea mullet? If it's a good clear day, probably sheep said.

Sure. Okay.

And the sheep said are go hang around the pines.

Yep. Like we were talking about the blue fish right now. And then was it two summers ago you and I went out and caught a bunch of blue fish?

We did. We did.

A lot of people say, man, blue fish are no good to eat. Well

If you cut the bloodline out and you eat blue fish when it's fresh,

Eat it when it's fresh. Man. You talk about the best fish tacos if you do 'em right, man, I made, I think my family still talks about how good those fish tacos

Were if you didn't win, they're fresh. A lot of people will tell you they're oily again if you didn't win, they're fresh. Another way. I like to cook blue fish. I like to put 'em in smoker. Yeah. Smoke blue fish. And Owen one was talking a little about king macker. King mack,

King mackerel dip.

Nothing about than that. I don't get no better it. I can tell you on Rod Anthony Pier, we actually have a smoker we keep at the pier. And if we catch a king, I'll fire a smoker. I will fla it right there. I'll fire the smoker up and throw it on it.

Everybody hates on blue fish and kings, but if you know how to cook them, hey,

If you catch 'em fresh being good, you don't want 'em, Hey, give 'em to me. I'll take 'em there. Damn

Good. Yeah, they are good. They are

Good. Yeah. Anything else you guys want add before

We didn't talk about bait? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That's right. We didn't talk about bait. We got to talk about

Bait. That's the most important thing.

That is the most important thing. You got to have bait. I will tell you this. It kind depends on what you're fishing for. The go-to bait or at least the one bait. For me it's the go-to bait is shrimp. Everything in ocean, each shrimp, there's nothing out there swims that done. Each shrimp blow worms a really good bait. They've gotten very expensive in the last couple of years, but they're excellent bait fish bites.

Can't beat a fish bite.

Fish bites work. You can say what you want. You can say, I don't think they're going to work. I'm telling you they work.

They've been around a long time.

It's stay on the hook. So good. You have to cut 'em off when you're done. And

They do work and they make so many different flavors now. And colors don't pass. The fish bites up. It's usually cheaper than regular fresh bait. And again, we have about every color or flavor that you would want here in the store. And I promise you, if you buy 'em in the store, they're going to be a lot cheaper than if you buy 'em in the outer banks. They're running about 8,000 a bag right now down south when you go with bait, fresh is best. Fresh is best. Yes. And you typically will get fresh bait out of pier typically. Normally I'll go to a, or you go to another shop, one of the tackle shops or some, I'll go one of the tackle shops. Yeah. Fishing hole or is it the, what's it? The Hatter Shacks Real. What's the one? Red drum salvo or red drum?

Which one? Which salvo? Frank and Fran. And then they're in there, another one. The whale, the Whaler. No Blue whale. Blue whale. Blue Whale. They don't do as much. They do some, yeah, they're more of a kind of a grocery store. It's like a convenience type place. It is. But they do have some You normally going to find, if you're looking for fresh shrimp, you normally going to find that like hatis jacks or fishing hole, somewhere like that. If you're looking for fresh mullet, you probably knock, you'll find that at the PI from time to time. But most to peer sales is going to be frozen. Sure.

Got it. You've been listening to the Greentop Outdoors Podcast. Hunting, fishing, and all things outdoors. It's not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle like And subscribe to the Greentop Outdoors Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. Or learn more about greentop at


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