It is early in the morning on a typical hot, humid North Carolina summer day. What better place to be than out on the river with a boat loaded with tackle ready to take on speckled trout, flounder, maybe even an old drum.
As you head out, the water is calm, and pods of large menhaden are flipping on the surface. For as far as you can see, the schools of bait are breaking the surface. You see some spanish mackerel excitedly knifing through the pogies, cutting out an early morning snack. As you watch, something different catches your eye. A large fish rolls on the surface, then another, and another…
It looks like a tarpon, a silver king!! But that can’t be, they haven’t been in the river in decent numbers in almost a decade. So you cut the motor and watch, scanning the middle of the river for another glimpse of them. After a couple of minutes, it happens again. Big, silver backs breaching the surface, it IS a school of tarpon, and they are BIG!!
It has been years since these fish have made an appearance in the Neuse like this, and as you scramble to get set to catch them, you wonder where they have been for so long. Was the salinity of the water too low? Not enough dissolved oxygen? Had we lost too much oyster reef? Did the lack of big bait schools keep them away? For the moment, none of that matters, it is time to catch one!!
Tarpon fishing on the Neuse River in and around Oriental is a different game. The fish are rarely tempted or tricked by any artificial lure or fly. To catch them, you have to soak bait on the bottom. A live small spot or croaker is candy to them (and will minimize the need to crank up the sting rays that are always around to snack on cut bait). You know you are set up in the right spot, as the water is covered in a slick of crushed menhaden, and the air on the river is thick with the smell of bait oil. Hopefully, it is just a matter of time before you hook up and get to experience that world renowned hour long, drag screaming battle with a legendary fish.
If you want to increase your chances at having a shot with a tarpon, Oriental has a stable of world-class guides that would love to give you an adventure of a lifetime, and links to them are listed below.
Captain Mitch Blake — Fish IBX
Captain Gary Dubiel — Spec Fever Guide Service
Captain Bobby Brewer — Bald Headed Bobby Guide Service
Captain George Beckwith — Down East Guide Services
Captain Dave Stewart — Knee Deep Custom Charters
Captain Ashley King — Keep Castin’ Charters
All photos credit: Bald Headed Bobby Guide Services
After a long winter filled with some of the craziest weather I have seen, Oriental, and the Neuse River are springing back to life. The water has warmed up, the seasonal businesses are open and ready to go, and our quiet little town is ready to show everyone why this place is so special. Life on the water is what Oriental is all about! For over fifty years, this small village has been The Sailing Capital of NC, and with thousands of boats in the area, it is easy to see why.
If you don’t have a sailboat of your own to cruise in the Neuse, you can charter a day sail, rent a boat to use, or take some lessons from either Bow to Stern, or Oriental School of Sailing. Kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent from several local businesses, and spending a day exploring or fishing in one of our many backwater creeks is an adventure you will not soon forget! There are even chances to get out and try some parasailing for those that want to try something a little more on the edge.
Perhaps the greatest asset the Neuse River offers is some of the best recreational fishing around. The warming waters greet anglers with a springtime mix of trout, puppy drum, rockfish, flounder, and more! The local creeks and river shorelines fill up with schools of mullet and menhaden, and the hungry predators are not far behind! Anyone coming down to thy their luck on the weekends will find plenty of fish willing to stretch your line.
Don’t forget that we have a stable of world-class guides that can put you in the right spots and give you a chance to catch a fish of a lifetime! Contact Gary Dubiel, Mitch Blake, Dave Stewart, Joe Ward, Ashley King, Bobby Brewer, or Dave Eakins and let one of them get you hooked up!!
Make your plans now to come visit Oriental this season and let River Neuse Suites host your stay!!
It’s an early July morning on the Neuse River in Oriental, and the air is thick and still. The sun has not even winked over the horizon yet and we are at the boat launch preparing to scoot across the river. The sea breeze hasn’t kicked in yet, and there is a spot on the bank that has been full of fish. As we slide across the water, school after school of menhaden, mullet, and bluefish scatter in our wake. Our captain for the day cuts the engines early, noticing some serious activity in a nearby cove. He quietly drops the trolling motor, and we ease our way in, stealthily approaching our target of the day. The entire area is filled with life: small shrimp scattering around the shore grasses near the bank, and pod after pod of baitfish showering on the surface. Suddenly, a breach that sounds like someone took a bowling ball and tossed it in the water…then another…and another. The big boys are in!!
Excitedly, we jump up and grab our rods rigged with large popping corks and big soft plastics underneath and make our first cast. On the retrieve, we are thumping the corks, calling up the bull redfish with a concussive splash. We cast again and again, anxiously awaiting the strike. Then, out of nowhere, it happens! The reel starts screaming as an old drum has risen from the deep, mistaking the bait for a morsel of breakfast, and trying to make his escape.
The fish is making his first drag burning run, screaming 100 yards of line off the reel. I apply as much pressure as I can to stop the behemoth, and start gaining line as I have him turned to the boat. That pressure just makes the fish mad, and he is off again making me re-earn every inch of line I had just won. After several minutes of this back and forth battle, we get one of the prettiest copper and bronze fish I have ever seen gently guided into the net. Then a few quick pictures and he is back over the gunnel of the boat to be revived and released. Tired and still shaky from the adrenaline, I lean back to chug down a drink and relive every second of landing that trophy old drum. But there is no rest to be had yet, the big boys are still busting on top.
The weather has cooled off,the crowds have thinned out, and now is a great time to experience Oriental!! You can start your day with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate at The Bean or get a stick to your ribs breakfast at Brantley’s. After that, spend some time on a Saturday checking out our Farmer’s market or one of our local shops. Marsha’s Cottage and Nautical Wheeler’s will get you outfitted Down East style, The Inland Waterway Treasury Company has a gallery full of artwork to explore, and the Provision Company can take care of all you sailing supply needs. Before you get a great dinner at M & M Cafe, or The Silos, be sure to spend some time cruising the waterfront or exploring the charm of our village. Don’t forget to cap off the evening at Nel’s Sports Bar!!
The river may have cooled off, but you can still spend a great day on the water touring one of the many creeks of the Neuse, and our stable of world-class guides know just where to find the fish!
Oriental is just a few minutes away from historic downtown New Bern. Touring Tryon Palace, walking through the historic district, and stopping in for a great meal at one of the many local restaurants is a great way to get to know the area! Don’t forget that we are also very close to the Crystal Coast! After a short ferry ride across the river, you can spend the day touring the famous waterfronts of Beaufort and Morehead City. The beaches of Emerald Isle and Atlantic Beach are always calling!!
Don’t let the fact that it is cool outside keep you from spending a great weekend Down East in Oriental. We here at River Neuse Suites would love to be your host for a peaceful, quiet getaway. Come unplug with us and recharge those personal batteries!!
One of the many great things that makes Oriental so special is that now, during the late summer and early fall, we have a truly world-class fishery whose season peaks this time of year. Whether you call them Old Drum, like a Pamlico county native, or bull reds, NOW is the time to catch them. When the day is early, and the water still, anglers who target the reds will see massive schools of menhaden and mullet rippling the surface. Periodically, that peaceful ripple is suddenly blasted by a cannonball of a fish, and you will see the massive head of an old drum inhaling breakfast. When hooked, either by bait soaked on the bottom, by ripping a large, deep-diving crankbait, or by using a large popping cork, these brutes will put up an incredible fight!!
Our local captains are experts at tempting these fish to bite, even in less than ideal conditions. We would love to host you here at River Neuse Suites and put you in touch with one of our local experts. If you want an adventure of a lifetime, get in touch with Captains Gary Dubiel, Dave Stewart, Ashley King, Joe Ward, Dave Eakins, or Mitch Blake. I have been on the boat with all of them, and I know they will treat you to a fantastic day on the water.
It doesn’t matter what you choose to do in Oriental. Like me, you can fish for trout, rockfish, flounder, or our world-class bull red drum. The Neuse River is also fantastic for sailing, paddleboarding, tubing, or running around on a kayak. No matter the activity, you are surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenes that all of Nature has to offer.
Our local artisans are beyond compare at capturing that beauty as I found out early on a Sunday morning.
Come pay us a visit on your next vacation, or for a quick weekend getaway!
There’s never really a bad view here at our waterfront hotel. Even in the early morning fog you have a front row seat for cool breezes and four mile wide water views. And, if you’re lucky, a pod of dolphins will swim by while you’re enjoying the view!
The twelfth annual “Art on the Neuse” arts festival was held this past weekend. This charming event draws ever larger crowds as Oriental has become known as a mecca for artists who often draw their inspiration from the waters surrounding our town.
Good music and good food were also to be found at the festival and the weather provided a perfect backdrop. Regular festival goers told us it was the best one yet!
Just one of our magnificent sunsets here in Oriental. This photo, courtesy of Kathy Waters Cobb, was taken from the top of our bridge that looks out over the water in two directions and over the harbor with all the shrimp boats tied up in another.
Come take a leisurely stroll, snag a fresh fish off our local pier, bike through the village, eat the freshest seafood available – right off the boats, or just relax and unwind. We can get you back to the simple life in one easy weekend.
Photo courtesy of Pam Smith
Need a little weekend break to relax and unwind? How about lazing your day away while gazing at this incredible view? River Neuse Suites still has a few rooms available for Memorial Day weekend!
Our efficiencies have a queen bed, sleeper sofa, modified kitchenette and 40″ HD television for $149 per night. Our two-story Classic Lofts offer a sleeper sofa in the downstairs living area, a modified kitchenette, two large screen televisions (one upstairs and one downstairs) and either one king bed in the upstairs bedroom or two double beds. Lofts are $169 per night.
River Neuse Suites offers courtesy bicycles, pic-nic tables, bar-b-q grills and lawn games for guests to enjoy. We are within walking distance of restaurants, shops and local parks.
Come stay with us and explore our charming coastal fishing village. Find out why we’re named “Oriental.” Go on a “dragon hunt” to see just how obsessed we are with our mascot. See how many statues, sculptures, paintings and eggs of our favorite mascot you can discover. Come relax, rejuvenate and re-boot at River Neuse Suites hotel. We’ll hold a room for you!