The fish have been getting a break at Hatteras in the time since Hurricane Sandy took out a section of NC 12 between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe. That all changed just after dark on Dec. 19, when the NC Department of Transportation finished repairs and opened the road to all traffic to take the pressure off a ferry from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe that was running a full schedule to bring people to and from the Outer Banks.

Capt. Kenny Koci of Big Tahuna Charters said the offshore action from Hatteras Inlet has been good the whole fall, but only a few dedicated fishermen have been willing to take the extra ferries or travel the 4-wheel-drive-only section of road required to get there. Now the travel is a lot easier, and the fishing is still good and even expected to improve by some.

"We've had a great fall," Koci said. "In the past week, the offshore boats caught king mackerel, dolphin, wahoo, blackfin tuna and yellowfin tuna. With the warm weather (we've had), our winter fishing is running a little behind. We expect this weekend to be the transition, and folks should expect to catch a mixture of everything." 

Koci (252-995-2031) specializes in blackfin tuna this time of year. Once they tuna arrive off Diamond Shoals Tower for the winter, catches average more than 20 a day, and a lot of them are citation-size fish.  

"If the weathermen have it right and the weather returns to a more normal pattern, that should trigger the blackfins to hit jigs," Koci said. "Right now, they are higher in the water column and are hitting trolling baits like the kings, wahoo and dolphin. When the water temperature drops to the 66- to 70-degree range, they'll hold up in the column at about 120 feet, and we can catch them on jigs all day. The fishing will be so good some days that even the fittest people get tired." 

Koci said Hatteras Inlet and the ferry channel between Hatteras and Ocracoke has been shoaling since Hurricane Sandy, but not as bad as Oregon Inlet, where many boats have been forced to stay at the dock. He said a dredge arrived the first of last week and is scheduled to work until the inlet is back to full depth. 

Updates on the roadwork and ferry can be found on-line at, on Twitter at NCDOT_NC12 and on Facebook at Ncdot NC 12.