On a sizzling July Day, William Maxwell of Wilton, Ct., and his friends toted a heavy stringer of black sea bass and vermillion snapper from the Miss Hatteras headboat back to the dock.

"This is pretty fun," he said. "I will be back."

That's the reaction from plenty of fishermen who, for a hundred bucks and change, can fish offshore out of Hatteras, sampling the bottom-fishing aboard the headboat that's the biggest boat on Hatteras Island.

For about three decades, Capt. Spurgeon Stowe has run bottom-fishing trips on Miss Hatteras and Captain Clam, his other headboat. He runs full-day trips offshore four days a week, weather permitting, aboard Miss Hatteras. Anglers bounce cut squid and chunks of Boston mackerel along the bottom for a variety of species. 

"I go from 20 to 30 miles out," he said. "I like to fish the ledges, reefs and rock piles. We mainly catch sea bass, triggerfish and snappers."Bait and tackle are provided, and mates assist with landing fish.

When he takes out the Captain Clam, Stowe (252-564-7365) spends his time inshore, targeting sea mullet, flounder and croaker around Hatteras Inlet. Summer, which brings an influx of tourists to the Outer Banks, is the key season for headboats that head out through breaks in the barrier islands.

On the northern end of the Outer Banks, inshore headboats fish the sound near Oregon Inlet, leaving from Manteo, Wanchese or the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center – all for two 20-dollar bills.

Capt. John Gallop, 49, took a crew of anglers out aboard the Miss Oregon Inlet one recent day, targeting the deeper channels and sloughs behind Oregon Inlet for croaker. The success is largely based on where the wind blows.

Gallop (800-272-5199) said an east wind from the ocean means clear water, while a west wind muddies the sound.  

"If the water is clear, we fish for flounder," he said. "We mostly catch croakers and sea mullets in dirty water."

Gallop and the captains of two other headboats, the Miss Broad Creek from Wanchese and the Crystal Dawn from Manteo, talked back and forth throughout their trips to share fish when they were located.

The technique is simple. Gallop drifts over a deep hole, and his anglers drop baits to the bottom. He provides bait-casting rigs spooled with 20-pound line, but anglers are welcome to bring their own bait and lighter tackle.