On a day like this—and there are many such days in November—no reasonable man could complain about the catch, but there may be a complaint or two about tackle. A charter captain faces the problem of new clients every day, many of them novices. His tackle must be heavy and tough enough to withstand the abused of constant use by inexperienced hands. As a result, for the experienced fisherman, all of the fight—and most of the sport—in taking these two-and three-pounders is lost. It doesn't have to be, however, if he brings his own light spinning tackle from home.
On the way back to Nags Head from Croatan Sound, Highway 64 crosses ROANOKE ISLAND and runs past the site of Sir Walter Raleigh's LOST COLONY. No longer lost, thanks to the energy of the local tourist people, the colony has everything from a reproduction of the colonists' fort, complete with log village, to an outdoor summer theater.
In November the theater is closed, but the colony's real attraction, its free museum, is still open, and worth a visit. The museum is particularly interesting to sportsmen because of its extensive collection of paintings of birds, animals, fish and life in the early colony. These were, made almost 400 years ago by John White, grandfather of Virginia Dare and first governor of the settlement.
The Nags Head area offers still another bonus to the sportsman. Just a few minutes' walk from the Carolinian, a dozen little fresh-water ponds lie hidden in the overgrown sand hills. Here, the Outer Banks widens to almost a mile. Holly trees, French mulberries, pines and dogwoods form a seven-mile-long miniature jungle. In the midst of this cool green forest is some of the best black bass fishing in North Carolina.
Julian Oneto, the Carolinian's owner, is a bass fisherman. He knows where the best ponds are located, when to fish them, and even under what overhangs the big ones are drowsing. Best of all, it seldom takes much persuasion to lure Oneto from behind his desk. Besides, that's where he keeps his spinning rod.
Flies or popping bugs, cast from the brushy shore, are almost certain to bring a three-or four-pounder thrashing to the surface. Eight-pound bigmouths are sometimes taken from these waters, and, the fisherman who carries along a shotgun has a better than even chance of jumping a duck or two along the way.
Just south of Nags Head is the beginning of America's first NATIONAL SEASHORE RECREATION AREA, a vast public playground rich in waterfowl, channel bass, speckled trout and diminutive deer. Its 30,000 acres of golden beaches and violent seas stretch 70 miles from WHALEBONE JUNCTION (see map) to Ocracoke. The entire area has been set aside by the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE'S MISSION 66 for the recreation of every American, preserved and protected in its wild, natural state from purchase or development by private individuals.
At the northern end of the park, the BODIE ISLAND LIGHT stands above OREGON INLET, a turbulent, unpredictable channel which separates HATTERAS ISLAND from the upper Banks. In summer, Oregon Inlet is the headquarters of hundreds of fishing boats. In early September, when hurricanes threaten the Atlantic Coast and rumble along the Outer Banks, most of the little boats move south to more hospitable waters.