Fishin’ Fun: Adventure awaits at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center

Published 4:30 pm Sunday, July 14, 2019

Denise McNamara had invited me down to Oregon Inlet Fishing Center to see all the changes to the ship’s store since the new management took over and I wasn’t disappointed.

The store is laid out nicely and seems to have a better traffic flow. A wide variety of fishing tackle, refreshments, hats and T-shirts are available including one with a graphic design that’s been around for quite a while: “Support Your Local Hooker.”

oregon inlet fishing center

Daryl Law photo

Another one features a bull dolphin and, of course, there are plenty of tuna and billfish featured on the merchandise for this mecca of Gulf Stream fishing. Dozens of high end sport fishing boats featuring Carolina flared bows and big diesels leave here at daybreak daily.

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I found Denise over in a quiet corner doing paperwork. McKayla Creef was there, too, talking on the phone. She shrieked when she found herself a spot on a boat for the upcoming Alice Kelly Tournament, which takes place on Sunday, Aug. 11.

Someone mentioned Brian Horsley’s name and how well his boat was doing catching speckled trout. It made me think about that spring when our class went to Charleston to take the tests for our six-pack captain’s licenses. He was sweating it for sure as he already had numerous bookings for that season! Fortunately, we all passed with flying colors and flash cards of navigational signs.

McKayla, who played softball for Manteo High, said plenty of yellow and blackfin tuna along with big eye were biting earlier this week. A wahoo was taken on True Grit.

oregon inlet fishing center

Grace Butcher, Allan Cota and Matt Kowaleski of Richmond, Va. were thrilled with the great Spanish mackerel fishing they enjoyed on the nearshore charter boat Sea Era with Capt. Dean Johnson out of the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. They left with 30 pounds of filets. Daryl Law photo

Denise said Chris Crockett was the main captain operating the head boat Miss Oregon Inlet this season. Her son-in-law, Mike Swindell, also drives the boat. It sails for bottom fishing at 7 a.m., noon and offers 6 p.m. twilight runs on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Through the front window, you could see the head boat pulling out for the midday fishing trip. A few of the half day boats are returning and on board the Sea Pro center console Sneaky, a party from Pennsylvania unloaded their catch at the dock.

Capt. Pete Cruger said they had fun catching speckled trout and sea mullet. Brayden McNany, age 8, and his cousin Reece Spencer, age 7, were all grins when it came time for photos. “Say cheese!”

oregon inlet fishing center

Cousins Brayden McNany, age 8, right, and his cousin Reece Spencer, age 7, tore up the speckled trout and sea mullet while fishing on the Sneaky. Daryl Law photo

The dads also looked like they had fun, too, and were exchanging cell numbers with Capt. Cruger. They had their catch cleaned by the center’s crew and went home with dinner.

Because it was noontime, most of the sleek Carolina-style offshore charter boats were at sea, but a few other beautiful ones were at the dock including the West Wind, which is owned and operated by Olin West, a friend of mine from back home.

This is the time of year the billfishing heats up and a number of events are scheduled so that these world class vessels, captains and crews can see who is the best in the business. Here’s a list of the tournaments that’s posted at the booking desk:

  • Boat Builder’s, Pirate’s Cove, July 24-27
  • White Marlin, Ocean City, Md., Aug. 3-10
  • Miss OI Kid’s Fishing, OIFC, Aug. 5
  • Alice Kelly, Pirate’s Cove, Aug. 10-11
  • Pirate’s Cove Billfish, Aug. 13-16
  • Virginia Beach Billfish, Aug. 21-24

When you’re down that way, stop by this neat marina located at the base of the old Bonner Bridge and check out the boats and ship’s store that truly serves as a center for Fishin’ Fun.

oregon inlet fishing center

Daryl Law photo



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