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.