On Ocracoke, there are four reasons why the fishing will not be good, and guides always volunteer at least one of them: 1) the wind isn't right; 2) the tide isn't right; 3) the water is too hot or too cold; or 4) the weather is too hot or too cold. On the rare occasions when not even one of these conditions applies, a fifth, and equally dire prospect is certain to be presented: porpoises—either they are there or they are not.
But in spite of the seeming hopelessness of even starting out to fish on Ocracoke, the fishing is surprisingly good throughout the fall. Hunting guides are less pessimistic about their sport. They can afford to be, since the shooting in Pamlico Sound off Ocracoke is as good as it is off Hatteras. Like all Ocracokers, however, the guides more often than not temper their enthusiasms with silence.
In this part of the sound stake blinds are used exclusively because of rough waters and high tides. Charlie Garrish Jr., who has four blinds six miles north of the village, is a handsome, red-headed ex-sailor who, for $25 a day, provides blinds, decoys and transportation. From his setup there is great shooting for black brant, geese, pintails, redheads, widgeons and blacks.
Since there are still very few visitors to Ocracoke, finding a free blind is rarely a problem. Charlie Garrish estimates that he is booked less than one-third of the 60-day waterfowl season, and other guides on the island are similarly available. With the new road, however, they expect more hunters to discover Ocracoke's wonderful hunting in the next few years. But this season the November visitor can be certain that he'll find not only uncountable numbers of birds but virtually no hunting pressure at all.
He'll also find excellent accommodations at the SILVERLAKE HOTEL overlooking Ocracoke harbor. Around the water's horseshoe shore, tiny white-painted docks handle the dozens of commercial fishing boats which come in each day laden with fatbacks and local oysters. At 4 each afternoon the mail boat arrives from the city of ATLANTIC on the mainland. Until the road was built this was the only contact Ocracoke had with the outside world, and the boat's arrival each day became part of the tradition of the island. Today it is still an important, and eagerly anticipated, event.
Sometimes visitors arrive on the mail boat, and they are closely scrutinized by everyone. Ocracokers are singularly unimpressed by clothes, position or wealth. According to one islander, if President Eisenhower were to arrive on the mail boat some afternoon, the first man to recognize him would walk calmly to the rail, extend his hand and say, in the island brogue that persists from the days of the first Colonial settlers: "Hellow, Oike, noice you could come."
This quality of simplicity is a part not only of Ocracoke but of all the Outer Banks. Airplanes and automobiles may some day change it, as they have the mainland across the bay, but this year, and particularly this autumn, the Outer Banks belongs to the sportsman.