Outer Banks is always a favorite spot

I consider myself fortunate to have spent time on dozens of different beaches on both coasts. From snorkeling in the Bahamas to kayaking in Alaska, I have witnessed the salt water crash on sand and stones in many well-known destinations.

My favorite beach time is spent on my family’s annual trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. We stay in Hatteras Village, on the southern tip, which is a secluded town famous for a relaxing atmosphere and its world-class fishing.

I could not wait to get back to Hatteras this summer to once again battle some large red drum or cobia in the big water and wade the sound for flounder. Unfortunately, the fishing during this summer’s trip was subpar to say the least.

Although I caught flounder on each outing, the bites were few and far between. I also picked up some black drum and blues, but it was not enough action to keep me wanting to go back on a daily basis.

While fishing for cobia on the boat, my son River kept our bait supply healthily stocked with his constant catching of pin fish. The seven-year-old also was able to catch a pretty impressive mixed bag of other species of fish including his first flounder.

The traditional fish fry was not going to be full of fish caught by the Knepp boys this year, so we decided to try and supply the family with a different sea food option.

Over the years I have enjoyed many trips to the Wye River in Maryland crabbing. The last few times my friend Adam has brought his impressive trot line that we used very effectively to catch our limit of blue crabs for a cookout later that night in Snyder County.

River had wanted to go crabbing this year, but our summer schedule was too full to make the run down to Wye Mills. Hoping to at least get him a few crabs, I tossed a small trap in our truck with my fishing supplies as we packed for Hatteras Village.

Hand-lining and these small traps are popular, but not very effective. In fact, the first day we tried the trap, we did not catch one crab. The second time we released one small female.

Despite not being able eat his first crab, the soon-to-be second grader was excited he finally was able to catch a one by himself.

At that point I decided it was time to put a little more effort into getting some grabs for the cook out. Earlier in the week I rented some stand-up paddle boards for my family. It was something everyone wanted to try and turned out to be a good morning in the sound.

When I returned the boards, I noticed the small rental shop had some crab pots sitting out behind the building. After asking if they rented out the pots, the owner and I started negotiations on a price. After a minute or two I walked out with two pots for three days for less than he wanted for a single pot for one day. Apparently my supply versus demand lessons from business school paid off.

Once the pots were loaded in my truck, we headed down to the docks to ask for some scraps where the fleet cleaned its fish. We left there with a bucket full of mahi-mahi.

The locals told me a few places that hopefully would produce some crabs. The first day I carried them out into the sound, which was definitely a chore. However, the following day when we pulled them to find several keeper crabs in each one, that trek through the mud was well worth it.

That day at lunch time the family dined on its first fresh crab of the trip. My nephew Cael loved the crab and requested more for the following day. Not to disappoint, we headed out again to hopefully continue our luck.

This time I decided to deploy the pots in a creek that ran through the village. It meant less work to check them and this location was also mentioned to me by someone in town.

The next morning we once again checked our crab pots before heading to the beach. Both pots were full of blue crabs. We kept the big males, put in some new bait and tossed them back in the same area. The next day crabs were once again awaiting River as he struggled to pull up to heavy cages to the bank.

For the third straight day, the boys enjoyed fresh crabs for lunch. I too enjoyed a few pieces of meat while most of my time was spent cracking them and offering my favorite food to others.

I was happy that River finally was able to go crabbing. Our persistence paid off and we shared a new outdoor activity while enjoying the great Hatteras surroundings.

It looks like next year we will start crabbing the first day and toss in a few extra pots so we can have some more delicious crustaceans on the boys’ plates.


Zach Knepp writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.