Because New Bern is wonderfully close to two major rivers – the Neuse and the Trent Rivers – the community is a paradise for anglers of all varieties, Featuring ample access to saltwater species, brackish and / or freshwater species, and even great offshore species just 45 miles away or so, virtually every variety of fishing can be enjoyed in this region of coastal North Carolina.
From dropping a line off a local pier in one of New Bern’s scenic public parks, to embarking on a full-day Gulf Stream adventure, the New Bern fishing scene can be as relaxed or as ambitious as an angler wants – with plenty of great catches to go around.
North Carolina Fishing License for New Bern Fishing
One of the first things a New Bern visiting angler will want to do before they drop a line is to acquire a North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License (CRFL). A CRFL, or simply a saltwater fishing license, is required for any angler over the age of 16 who wants to fish in a body of saltwater, and because the majority of local waters in the Inner and Outer Banks are indeed connected to the Atlantic Ocean, this allows anglers to cover their bases regardless of where they land.
A saltwater fishing license is relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain, and can range from just $5 dollars to $15 for a 10-day period, (depending on whether a visitor is from North Carolina or from out-of-state.) Annual and lifetime passes are also available, generally at a reduced cost that also varies based on an angler’s age, state of residence, and other factors.
With that being said, the New Bern area is also home to a number of freshwater or brackish creeks where a saltwater fishing license may not be required. Visitors who are unsure if their desired fishing destination requires a certain license beforehand can check out the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-fishing-licenses-and-permits. All licenses can be purchased online as well in advance of a vacation, or in the town of New Bern after arrival at a number of local bait and tackle stores, and / or fishing supply shops.
Anglers should note that a saltwater fishing license is not required for inshore or offshore fishing trips, as the captain’s license generally covers everyone on board the charter vessel.
Fishing Spots in New Bern (Local parks, piers, and docks)
Visitors who are on the hunt for a convenient spot to drop a line will discover a myriad of options in and around New Bern. From Neuse River-bordering docks that are easy to reach for any downtown explorer, to more secretive locales that only the locals know, there are ample spots in and around town to enjoy a full morning, afternoon, or evening of local fishing.
Union Point Park
210 E Front St
New Bern, NC 28560
Union Point Park is located in the heart of the downtown area, and is an easy spot to reach for anglers staying throughout the central New Bern region. The site features a popular fishing pier which extends into the Neuse River, as well as two public boat launches which can accommodate kayak fishermen as well as mariners who want to explore the Trent and Neuse River fishing grounds. The park also features ample amenities, including restrooms, picnic areas, a playground, and beautiful views, which will keep everyone in the family entertained.
Lawson Creek Park / Jacks Island Fishing Piers
1309 Country Club Road
New Bern, NC 28562
Lawson Creek Park is an extensive public destination for anglers, thanks to more than 140 acres of terrain, as well as a location that straddles the borders of the Trent River and Lawson Creek. The site features two fishing piers for anglers, as well as a waterfront boardwalk, and several boat launching areas that can accommodate vessels of all varieties – from kayaks and canoes to skiffs. In addition, there’s a waterfront boardwalk that hugs the perimeter, as well as picnic facilities and public restrooms for a full day of fishing and outdoor entertainment.
Glen Burnie Park Fishing Pier
340 Glenburnie Drive
New Bern, NC 28560
The Glen Burnie Park Fishing Pier is found within the expansive Glen Burnie Park, which is located in a more residential section of New Bern on the northern borders of the Neuse River. The pier extends deep into the river waters for anglers, and the site also features two launching lanes for fishermen who want to explore the network of creeks that branch out from this central location. The site also features seasonal restrooms and ample park facilities – including picnic areas – to keep everyone in the family entertained.
Creekside Park Fishing Dock
1821 Old Airport Road
New Bern, NC 28562
The Creekside Park Fishing Dock, which is found within the city’s Creekside Park, accesses a small channel of a brackish / freshwater creek that’s found just south of the downtown region. The site has parking, restrooms, and multiple diversions for visiting family members, as well as a launching site that’s ideal for kayaks and canoes. Because of its remote location, the park is an ideal spot for anglers who want plenty of elbow room when casting a line.
Latham Whitehurst Nature Park Fishing Pier
1095 Broad Creek Road
New Bern, NC 28560
The Latham Whitehurst Nature Park features a 2,000’ ft. long dock which overlooks Broad Creek, and which has a separate wildlife observation area, a fishing section for anglers, and a canoe and kayak launch for anglers who want to get out and explore. Situated in a nicely quiet region that’s just east of New Bern, the park is an ideal spot for anglers to enjoy plenty of peace and quiet, as well as exceptional brackish / freshwater fishing. Additional park facilities include a walking trail, and picnic facilities including a large picnic shelter and gazebo.
953 Perrytown Road
New Bern, NC 28562
Brices Creek is known as one of the best local fishing spots in Craven County, and New Bern visitors can access this region with ease with a visit to the Brices Creek water access point in the Croatan National Forest. This site features a fishing dock and a pier on the edge of the mainly freshwater creek, as well as public restrooms, a fishing area, parking, and a boat ramp for vessels of all sizes. Located in a wild section of the county, the spot is a great destination for anglers who want to get away from it all while enjoying great fishing conditions.
Bridgeton Boat Ramp and Dock
880 Wildlife Road
Bridgeton, NC 28560
This site that’s located north of New Bern is a great destination for anglers who want to access wide Neuse River waters without competing with the crowds. The launch site features a courtesy dock which can double as a fishing pier, as well as a boat ramp and ample parking for roughly 20 vehicles or so. It’s also close to US Highway 17, which makes it easy to reach for Inner Banks anglers throughout the region.
Charter Fishing in and around New Bern
Because New Bern is home to such a diverse collection of rivers, creeks, and bodies of water, anglers who want to explore the best fishing grounds in coastal North Carolina will find plenty of options in the realm of charter fishing. From half-day expeditions that patrol the local rivers and creeks, to full day explorations of the Gulf Stream, the sky is the limit when it comes to charter fishing, as well as the array of catches that can be reeled in.
Several local inshore or fly fishing charter businesses call the town of New Bern home, and are effectively sprinkled throughout the town in regions that border the Neuse and / or Trent Rivers. These businesses can accommodate smaller parties, and scour the local creeks and river waters on the hunt for tasty game catches including speckled trout, rock fish, puppy drum, shad, largemouth bass, striped bass, yellow and white perch, crappie, and giant catfish. From heading to small creeks in waders, to exploring large open swaths of waters that can only be accessed with a vessel, an inshore / fly fishing trip can be nicely varied and can result in a wealth of great catches to enjoy well after a New Bern vacation is over.
Anglers who want a larger variety of options, or who want to explore the offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean, will want to head south to the coastal towns along the Crystal Coast – namely, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, and Beaufort, NC.
Here, anglers will discover a wide array of offshore charter fishing businesses that can take patrons out 15-20 miles to the warm Gulf Stream waters, where large catches can be reeled in with ease. These big sport and game fish can include white and blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin and blackfin tuna, Mahi, amberjack, snapper, and everything in between. Offshore charter trips generally last ¾ to a full day or more, and are slightly more expensive than their inshore counterparts due to the amount of gas and fishing gear required.
Regardless of what kind of a trip a New Bern visiting angler decides on, the ensuing array of catches is well worth the expedition. In addition, charter fishing trips include everything a fishermen needs – such as rods and reels, bait, tackle, and even an all-encompassing fishing license – which means that all an angler has to do is show up with a bit of good luck at hand to reel in catch after catch.
Most all local fishing businesses have websites and / or online booking capabilities, and visitors will want to reserve a trip well in advance – especially during the popular summer and early fall months, when the local fishing is arguably at its best.
Fishing Tournaments around New Bern
New Bern is the home to several fishing tournaments, which is due to its famed status as an inherently maritime community, as well as its locale that borders the intersection of the Neuse and the Trent Rivers. As a result, area anglers can take part in a number of local fishing tournaments that target brackish or freshwater species, as well as grander tournaments that are located nearby in the towns along the Crystal Coast.
One of the most famed tournaments in the New Bern area is the Annual NRBWO fishing tournament, which has been going strong for over a decade, and which is distinctive as the only all artificial fishing tournament in Eastern North Carolina. In addition, the town of New Bern is home to the Carolina Redfish Series tournaments, which are typically held in July, as well as competitive bass fishing tournaments – like the Neuse River Bassmasters Tournament – which is typically held in mid to late September.
Further south, offshore anglers will find a myriad of smaller fishing tournaments in the towns of Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, and Beaufort – like the CCCF Spanish Mackerel / Dolphin Tournament in Beaufort, or the Chasin’ Tails Outdoors Flounder / Spanish Challenge – as well as one of the biggest fishing tournaments on the Eastern Seaboard, the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
This fishing tournament, which has a home base in Morehead City and adjacent Beaufort, has a seven-figure purse as well as several hundred participants every year, resulting in a festive local atmosphere in the heart of the Crystal Coast for the duration of the tournament, which lasts for about a week in early to mid-June.
Regardless of whether an angler wants to join in a local bass or drum fishing contest, or take part in one of the biggest fishing tournaments the East Coast has to offer, the array of options can entice any angler to try their luck in the hope of winning some fantastic prizes. Stop by a local bait and tackle store for more information, or check out local events calendars for additional info on upcoming fishing tournaments that may coincide with an upcoming New Bern vacation.
Tips and Tricks for Fishing in New Bern
- While the summer months are the busiest time to visit New Bern, the best fishing conditions in the Inner and Outer Banks are arguably during the spring and fall seasons. Best of all, area accommodations can be slightly less expensive during these “off / shoulder season” periods, which means that anglers can enjoy ample fishing, while staying on a tight vacationing budget.
- Want to uncover more fishing grounds? Take a road trip! New Bern is close to a number of hot fishing spots, like the town of Washington, NC which borders the Pamlico River, and the coastal town of Atlantic Beach which features a local fishing pier that extends roughly 1,000’ ft. into the Atlantic Ocean. Best of all, because New Bern has a central locale, it’s easy to access multiple types of fishing with a quick 30-60 minute road trip.
- Anglers can enjoy a budget-friendly vacation that revolves around fishing with a visit to the New Bern area campgrounds. Locally famed destinations like the Flanners Beach Campground have access to miles of water, as well as ample amenities that transform a camping adventure into a truly indulgent and fun-filled stay.
- You don’t have to go fishing to enjoy New Bern’s exceptional local catches. Many downtown area restaurants and grocery stores have fresh catches that can include perch, bass, catfish, drum, flounder, and other local eats that were reeled in from the water just hours before they landed on a plate.
- Inshore fishing trips that launch from New Bern and the towns of the Crystal Coast can entail a myriad of options besides the standard rod and reel fishing. Try embarking on a clamming or crabbing adventure from the towns of Washington, Beaufort or Atlantic Beach, and discover a family-friendly “fishing” adventure that everyone in the party will enjoy, regardless of age or ability.
From casual trips to the local docks and piers that border a popular downtown park, to extensive fishing adventures that target the miles of rivers and creeks that wind through the region. New Bern is truly a fisherman’s paradise.
Enjoy the variety of fresh and saltwater catches that are obtainable throughout the area, and discover why New Bern is quickly growing a reputation as one of the most distinctive, and most fun, fishing destinations along coastal North Carolina.