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We recently got back from our family summer vacation to Ocracoke. As usual, the summer trip was more about family time and vacationing than hard-core fishing. But I still managed to get a fair amount of fishing in.

From the surf, not a whole lot was going on. The highlight was a nice sized (13") pompano. I usually catch lots of the really small pompano but have only caught a few 'bigger' ones. This one put a nice bend in my light summer surf rod and gave a decent fight. Also tasted fantastic for lunch the same day. Other than that nice pomp, it was all sea mullet, the occasional bluefish or short flounder, pinfish or croaker or super-small pompano. I tried casting metal a few times, hoping to pick up a bluefish or Spanish but no luck. My brother in law had one day on the beach where a school of trout came through and he caught several from the surf including a nice 18" fish. Unfortunately I wasn't with him that afternoon to take part in the fun.

In the sound I fared better. Our first week we stayed in a house with sound frontage not far from Teaches Hole Channel. The first morning it was almost flat-calm and I paddled my kayak out to the far edge of the channel and caught gray trout until I was tired of catching them. Over the course of a little less than two hours I caught between 30-40 ranging from 11 to 15 inches. Finally left to paddle back to the house with the fish still biting. On a different kayak outing I drifted the outgoing tide more than halfway to south point, then worked like crazy to paddle back 'upstream' to our house after catching just a couple short flounder, a sea mullet and one black sea bass. Stopped to catch my breath over that deep hole just off Springer's Point and make a cast or two, and BAM, caught a 17" speckled trout. Caught 4 more specks between 14 and 17 inches over the next five minutes, then paddled back to the house because I was already late getting back. The highlight of the sound fishing that week was finding some structure and catching a 7 pound, 8 ounce sheepshead. Caught a few more sheepshead ranging from 1 to 3 pounds also in the same location, using fiddler crabs for bait.

Our second week we were in a different location so I didn't have easy access to Teaches Hole Channel anymore. I took the kayak out behind the north end of the island one morning and there were needlefish everywhere! Some of them were huge. I had a hard time getting away from them, there were so many. Some hits came immediately on the lure hitting the water, like they had swum to catch it like a baseball outfielder tracking down a fly ball. Must have gone through three or more bags of soft plastics and/or gulp, and lost several jig heads. I never landed one but must have been hooked up (for anywhere between 3 seconds to a half a minute) at least 20 times, including some sizzling runs and mini-sailfish-like leaps by those crazy fish. Also caught several just-too-short flounder and a couple bluefish on that float, along with 3 or 4 lizard fish. Did one more kayak paddle mid-island, putting in down that road across from the NPS campground entrance, but while it was a beautiful float I didn't catch anything other than croaker and one small flounder.

All said, it was a typical summer trip. Lots of fun and relaxation with family, mostly slow fishing but enough action here and there to keep things going. The big sheepshead was a huge plus, as that's a species I had never targeted before and I was excited to catch some - let alone such a big one. Missed a citation by just 8 ounces. Looking forward to getting back down in October for some serious fishing.
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