Friday, March 18, 2011

10 Questions with Captain Lenny
Soundside Adventures!

Today I'm lucky enough to be featuring an interview with long time Outer Banks fisherman and charter captain , Lenny Leta. Captain Lenny runs Soundside Adventures out of Wanchese, NC and fishes out of Oregon Inlet, Pirates Cove and Mann's Harbor Marinas. Captain Lenny specializes in fishing the waters of the Croatan, Roanoke and Pamlico Sounds in his 24 foot Carolina Skiff for Red Drum, Flounder, and Spotted Sea Trout. In the ocean, he targets Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel, Striped Bass, Cobia and other species depending on the season. He runs a tight ship and is always more than happy to help you try to catch the fish of a lifetime from the beautiful waters of North Carolina or to take you on a Nature Adventure to explore the marshes and islands of the coast in search of wildlife. You can find out more about Captain Lenny's charter operation and nature tours by visiting his website , Facebook page, or blog.

On behalf of myself and my readers, I would like to welcome Captain Lenny Leta and Soundside Adventures to Something's Fishy!

A beautiful Cobia Courtesy of Captain Lenny

JM : Welcome to Something's Fishy Captain Lenny! Thank you for agreeing to talk with us about Soundside Adventures and the fishing you do on the Outer Banks.

Click "Read More" below to see what the Captain had to say!

Captain Lenny : You're very welcome JM! I enjoy sharing my love of fishing with anyone who will listen. I hope it entertains as well as educates your readers about some of the exciting things to do while visiting the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

JM : What made you decide to get into the charter fishing business?

Captain Lenny : I love to fish! I have fished in the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico; caught nice fish in Alaska, Florida, Texas, and Maine; and jigged up 20 different species off of a reef 600 miles offshore of equatorial South America. I have spent countless hours on freshwater rivers, ponds, and lakes catching bass, trout, pan fish, and rough fish. When I’m not fishing, I‘m reading about it, talking about it, or watching it on TV. I love being outdoors and I love sharing the experience with others. Plus, I love to teach. These items combined made becoming a charter boat captain a “no brainer.”  It was a natural fit for me. Like I said, I love to fish!

JM : Can you tell us a little bit about the Kingfisher and any pros or cons you have with the design and her functionality on the water?

Captain Lenny : The Kingfisher is a 24-foot, standard hull, Carolina Skiff©. It is stable, hard to sink, and provides ample room for several anglers to fish safely and comfortably. It is powered by a 130 HP Evinrude E-Tec© outboard motor and has an 80 lb thrust Minn-Kota© electric motor as well. I attach a bimini top for shade on sunny days. I use a VHF radio and a Lowrance©, GPS/chart plotter and SONAR fish finder. It is an excellent boat for fishing the sound. With many public boat ramps within 10 miles, I can always find a leeward shore to comfortably fish from. When the winds are below 15 knots and the waves are no more than 2 feet, it will ride nicely in the ocean. I don’t go very far out into the ocean , but routinely fish 4-6 miles offshore when the conditions are favorable.  This allows us to get close to several wrecks and artificial reefs where fishing can be productive.

My biggest gripe with a Carolina Skiff is that it can be a rough ride in choppy waters. However, with my 24 footer, I can smooth out that ride by getting on top of the chop while keeping the speed and angle of trim up at the right level.

JM : What types of fishing do you offer aboard the Kingfisher? (i.e. trolling, sight casting etc.)

Captain Lenny : The type of fishing we do is up to the customer. If you are targeting a certain species, we‘ll try our hardest to find them. If it isn’t happening, I’ll tell you what we've been catching recently and give you some options.  Normally we will cast artificial or real bait on light- to medium-weight tackle. I offer spinning and bait casting set-ups. Sometimes we'll put out a chum slick and cast or drop baits back to fish in the slick. Trolling is always an option for Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Striped Bass, Cobia, and Red Drum. Sometimes the conditions make trolling the only game in town but usually I leave it up to the clients. If you prefer flyrod, there is a large casting platform on the front of the Kingfisher.  It provides a lot of room for casting and stripping fly line. I welcome all types of anglers regardless of equipment or experience.

JM : What is your favorite fish to target when you have clients with you?

Captain Lenny : If we fish in the sound, we’ll always be fishing for Flounder, Spotted Sea Trout, and Redfish (Puppy Drum). While we do this, we generally hook up with Black Drum, Croakers, Spot, sea mullet (Southern Kingfish), Pigfish, Pinfish, Bluefish, Stripers, Sea Robins, Lizard Fish, skates, and rays. As we get closer to Oregon Inlet, add Black Sea Bass, Sheepshead, Tautog, Houndfish, and Spanish Mackerel to the list. In the ocean, we target Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Red Drum, Cobia, Striped Bass, Triggerfish, and several species of the bottom fish that I mentioned earlier.

JM : What's the most memorable charter trip you've had on the Kingfisher?

Captain Lenny : Last spring I took a party out in the ocean for a day of fishing. It was a warm, windless day and the water was as clear as it gets. We could see bottom at depths of up to 30 feet.

That morning we caught several Bluefish and nice-sized Spanish Mackerel while trolling close to the beach. Later we anchored up and put out ground fish chum and caught loads of Bluefish, some nice sharks, a bunch of huge Croakers, and a 60-pound Cobia. We also spotted dolphins all day and got within 10 feet of an enormous Leatherback Sea Turtle. It was a great outing!

JM : When is the best time of year to book a trip with Soundside Adventures?

Captain Lenny : It depends on your wants and needs. May through June and September through October are the best fishing months. During these times, fish are actively feeding and gathering in their greatest concentrations.

In July and August, the waters are warm and generally calm. There are still plenty of fish to be caught, just not the wide variety of spring and fall. Winter finds us chasing Striped Bass in the sounds and in the ocean, if they travel far enough south. This year was an exceptionally good season for big ocean stripers and they were commonly being caught within 10 to 15 miles of Oregon Inlet for all of December and January.

JM : How do the ever-changing rules and regulations that govern saltwater fishing affect your business?

Captain Lenny : I keep up with all North Carolina state regulations concerning fishing, crabbing, and clamming. I may or may not agree with them but I will surely follow them and require that everyone on board the Kingfisher do the same. Regardless of seasonal or regional limitations, we can always find something to fish for around here.

JM : Can you offer any advice for people looking to book a charter trip on the Outer Banks?

Captain Lenny : You need to know what type of charter that you are looking for and what your personal budget is. An offshore trip requires a longer run and costs range from $1,000 to $1,400. These trips usually go to the Gulf Stream and target tuna, Wahoo, mahi, and billfish. These are full day trips.

A near shore charter usually runs 5 miles or less and targets Cobia, stripers, Red Drum, Bluefish, and Spanish Mackerel. These trips vary in price but usually about $375 for a half-day trip. An inshore trip usually means fishing inside the sound. These trips target many different species and usually have calm seas. These trips generally cost around $325.

Some Helpful Tips:

 *Always ask if ice, bait, and license are supplied.

 *Some captains use a mate—ask about this too. Mates work hard to make your trip more pleasurable but expect a tip at the end of the day.

 *Know your own limitations and those in your party. Can everybody stay on a boat for 4 to 8 hours? Do you or anyone else tend to get seasick? Are you extra sensitive to the sun?

 *Gather as much information as you can before you book your charter and make phone calls to find out what is going on during your intended stay.

JM : What are some of your favorite things about living and working on the Outer Banks of North Carolina?

Captain Lenny : I live on Roanoke Island, which splits the Roanoke and Croatan Sounds. Albemarle Sound is a little north and Pamlico Sound is a little south. I have quick access to all of them plus I can travel east a couple of miles and be at the Atlantic Ocean. These are all fishable areas.

In addition, this region has a rich cultural history:  shipwrecks, life saving stations, the Wright Brothers Memorial, and the wild horses of Corolla, just to mention a few highlights.

I teach high school science in Columbia—a small town centered in Tyrrell County. The main industry of this area is agriculture as well as commercial fishing and crabbing. Five days a week, I leave the island and head west; I arrive at the mainland of North Carolina after driving only 5 miles across the sound bridge.  Once I hit the mainland, it is a thirty-mile drive through a hardwood, pocosin swamp to get to my school. There is a deep canal that follows the road almost the whole way. It is common for me to see alligators, Black Bears, White-tail Deer, wild turkeys, Bobcats, River Otters, Raccoons, Opossums, and Red and Grey Foxes.

Bald Eagles are common, and in the winter there is a spectacular showing of migratory waterfowl and other birds. Long-legged wading birds are always present.

The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is located in this area and is the only place in the US to see and or hear the endangered Red Wolf.

In other words, the Outer Banks and nearby “Inner Banks” are a true sportsman’s and nature lover’s paradise. That is my favorite thing about this area.

JM : What is your favorite fishing memory?

Captain Lenny : I have several favorite fishing memories: my first fish, my son’s first fish, the Tiger Shark that ate the tuna, the turtles that ate my crappies, and the Mink who stole my pickerel. I have been chased away from fishing holes by bulls, horses, bears, moose, bees, black flies, and mosquitoes. I remember crossing a stream by hanging from a fallen tree and going hand over hand until I reached the end. I carried my new Fenwick© ultralight rod in my teeth while doing so. When I got to the land on the other side, I dropped to the ground, closed my mouth and promptly bit my rod in half.

However, my all time favorite day of fishing happened while visiting the Galapagos Islands to study its biology and geology. I carry fishing tackle whenever and wherever I travel and this was no exception. I quickly learned that Peter (the second captain) left early every morning to try and secure fish for feeding the rest of the crew. I asked to go along and he agreed. One of my best friends, Andrew, was along with us. We left the mother ship in an 18- foot wooden panga. Peter had a hand line and salted herring for bait. I carried a 6500 Ambassador© on a 6-foot Ugly Stik©; Andrew had a light spinning outfit. We started out using 4-6 inch shad bodies on lead heads and caught fish on the first drop. Yellow-tailed Grunts, Leather Sea Bass, Brown Groupers, hogfish, trigger fish, Sierra Mackerel, bonito, and more. We had non-stop action for about three hours. We used bucktails, jerk jiggers, minnow imitators, curly tail grubs, and baited hooks. We only stopped after all the lures that we had with us were lost to big fish. We landed several grouper up to 12 pounds but were man handled by many that were too big to steer away from the rocks. When we returned to the ship, we were instant heroes. We had over 400 pounds of fish with us. It was enough to feed the entire crew of 9 for 7 days and provide enough extra for each crew member to bring home more than he ate on board. The fish they brought home were worth more than the paycheck they earned for working our trip.

JM : Again , I'd like to tell you just how much I appreciate that you've taken the time to do this interview here at Something's Fishy. Thanks Captain!
Captain Lenny : Thanks for the interest in my business. I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate you spreading the word on fishing and conservation of our valuable resources.
A pair of good looking Skiff Dogs
It was great to work with Captain Lenny on this interview. While I was back and forth between my site and his I also ran across his great photo blog. Captain Lenny also runs the blog Skiff Dogs , where you can see pictures of two of his best fishing buddies and read about their adventures in the waters of the Pamlico sound. Be sure to check it out!

Have a great weekend!


  1. JM, Capt Lenny sounds like a great time for anyone fishing down the OBX way. Great read, thank you!!

  2. Captain Paul , it certainly sounds like Captain Lenny knows his stuff! I'll certainly be booking a trip with him when I have a chance.


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