Fishing with Kids on the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina, with its rich marine life and beautiful landscapes, offers a perfect setting for introducing children to the joys of fishing.

This guide is designed to help families create unforgettable fishing experiences, teaching kids valuable lessons about nature, patience, and conservation, all while having fun.

From choosing the right spots and gear to understanding the importance of safety and environmental stewardship, this guide covers everything you need to know for a successful family fishing trip in the Outer Banks.

Getting Started: Fun and Safety First

  • Choose the Right Location: Look for calm, easily accessible spots such as piers, docks, and shallow beaches. The Outer Banks has several family-friendly fishing piers, including Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head and the Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills, which offer safe environments for children to learn and enjoy fishing.
  • Equipment and Bait: Opt for lightweight, child-sized fishing gear to make handling easier for small hands. Simple bait like shrimp or pieces of fish can be exciting and easy for kids to use.
  • Safety Measures: Always supervise children closely near water. Life jackets are recommended for young children and non-swimmers, even when fishing from shore.

Kid-Friendly Fishing Locations

1. Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head

A historic pier that’s been welcoming families for generations, Jennette’s Pier is not only safe but also educational, offering various programs about marine life and conservation.

2. Avalon Pier, Kill Devil Hills

With a friendly atmosphere and plenty of space for little anglers, Avalon Pier is a great spot for catching a variety of fish, including spot, croaker, and even bluefish.

3. Hatteras Island

The beaches of Hatteras Island provide excellent surf fishing opportunities. The shallow waters are safe for kids, and the wide beaches offer plenty of room for casting lines and building sandcastles in between bites.

4. Oregon Inlet Fishing Center

For families ready to venture into slightly deeper waters, Oregon Inlet offers headboat fishing trips that are suitable for children. These boats provide a stable platform and the excitement of catching larger fish, all under the watchful eyes of experienced crews.

5. Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

For a quieter, nature-focused fishing experience, Pea Island offers serene spots perfect for teaching kids about the importance of ecosystems and conservation while enjoying some light tackle fishing.

Safety Tips

  • Always supervise children closely, especially near water.
  • Use appropriate-sized safety gear, including life jackets.
  • Choose equipment that is suitable for children’s hands and strength.

Making It Fun

  • Keep fishing trips short to match kids’ attention spans.
  • Celebrate all catches, no matter the size.
  • Pack snacks, drinks, and maybe a few non-fishing activities.

Educational Opportunities

  • Teach Conservation: Use the outing to teach kids about marine life and the importance of conservation. Explain why it’s important to follow size and catch limits and how they can help protect fish populations for the future.
  • Identify Species: Make a game out of identifying different fish species. This can be both fun and educational, increasing their interest in marine biology and the environment.

Making It Fun

  • Set Realistic Goals: Keep initial fishing trips short to match children’s attention spans. Catching any fish, regardless of size, is a victory and should be celebrated.
  • Create a Positive Environment: Encourage and praise efforts and successes. Fishing is about the experience and the learning process, not just the catch.
  • Bring Snacks and Entertainment: Pack plenty of snacks and maybe some non-fishing-related games or toys for breaks. This keeps the day enjoyable, even if the fish aren’t biting.

Memories to Last a Lifetime

  • Take Pictures: Document the day with photos, especially of any catches. These moments are precious and will be cherished for years to come.
  • Foster Patience and Persistence: Fishing is a great way to teach these valuable life skills, as waiting quietly for a fish to bite can be a profound experience for children used to fast-paced entertainment.
  • End on a High Note: Finish the day with a visit to a favorite ice cream shop or another treat. It’s a great way to reflect on the day’s adventures and talk about what was learned.


Q: What age is appropriate to start taking kids fishing? A: Kids as young as 3 or 4 can start fishing with adult supervision, using simple, child-friendly gear.

Q: Do children need a fishing license in the Outer Banks? A: Children under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license in North Carolina, but accompanying adults do.

Q: What should we do if we catch a fish? A: Teach children the “catch and release” practice, showing them how to gently handle and return fish to the water. If keeping the fish, explain the reasons, such as regulations and consumption.

Q: How can we make a fishing trip educational for kids? A: Use the opportunity to teach children about different fish species, marine ecosystems, and the importance of conservation and respecting wildlife.


Fishing with kids in the Outer Banks can be more than just casting lines and waiting for bites; it’s an opportunity to bond as a family, teach valuable life lessons, and create memories that will last a lifetime. By focusing on safety, education, and enjoyment, parents can ensure their children experience the wonders of fishing in a fun and meaningful way. So grab your rods, pack your bait, and head to the Outer Banks for an unforgettable family adventure.