Plan your trip around the conditions. Weather is the biggest variable. Other than that, the drum can be anywhere. People have been catching numbers all over. Find a good ledge or a shoal between havelock and ocracoke and you just might be in business. Find some menhaden schools, bait slicks, or pushing fish for the upper advantage.
Fished 3 days from Cedar Island last week from my 13' Whaler. It blew so hard I never much made it beyond the rocks at the ferry landing. Never hooked up with a big drum. The day we left the island the sun came out, rain departed and the sound went flat. Oh well.
I think next year we will find a place to rent a house around Oriental.
Fished the back bays behind Cedar Island and the inshore fishing was very slow too. Lots of very small puppy drum. All in all a disappointment for the money I sank in the trip, not to mention all the pleading to the wife that I need to leave her and the kids and spend a few hundred bucks.
Oh well. There was plenty of booze, food, time with friends, and relaxation back on the screen porch at the trailer.
Interested to hear more opinions on best place to launch.