There are a large number of world class anglers from all over the United States that visit the Morehead City, North Carolina area each winter in search of the giant bluefin tuna that winter just off our beaches. The chances of catching the valuable bluefin tuna so close the beach means less travel time to the fishing grounds and more profit for the fishermen that are lucky enough to land a few giants over the winter season. This bluefin fishery has gotten most of the national press in the last decade or so, but through contact with local fishermen and charter fleets as well as local tackle shops, the transient fishermen are learning what other fisheries that the Morehead City area has to offer!
Starting the last few weeks of March, or the first week of April depending on the weather, yellowfin tuna fishing really starts to heat up offshore within a few hours travel from the Beaufort Inlet. Places the locals call the Swansboro hole, the yellowfin hole, the triple terraces, the rise, the big rock and the 90-foot drop start to come alive with yellowfin tuna. All of the above mentioned areas are within reasonable fishing distances from Beaufort Inlet with distances ranging anywhere from the closest, around 35 miles to the 90-foot drop, to the farthest, around 55 to the Swansboro Hole from the Beaufort Inlet. I am not talking about 100-pound yellowfin, the majority of the tuna are from 25 to 50 pounds with a few larger fish in the 70- to 80-pound range caught occasionally. But you also stand a very good chance of catching wahoo from 25 to 80 pounds while fishing for yellowfin, not to mention a mixture of blackfin tuna, small to medium bluefin tuna, the occasional dolphin and even early season blue marlin.
Fishing in these areas off Beaufort Inlet is very simple fishing. For the yellowfin, 1/4- and 1/2-ounce skirts, usually blue and crystal, all pink, or pink and crystal with small to medium ballyhoo works well. The 1/2-ounce green lanterns and a small ballyhoo prove to be one of the hottest things to pull for the yellowfin. It is not uncommon when you locate a school of yellowfin to have every line that you are pulling get bit. Getting “covered up” by yellowfins really gets your heart pumping.
Pulling a # 24 or # 32 Old Salty planer on a hand line or planer rod is the best way to get a whaoo bite. Purple and black wahoo flashers or Up-Rite trollers are deadly on the Hoos! Put a select bally behind one of these flashy skirts and run it on a short piece of either #8 or #9 wire with a 9/0 Mustad 7692 hook and hang on. Other baits that work well for the Hoo’s are large 3-ounce purple and black or red and black lanterns with a select ballyhoo, a large silver octopus skirt or an Uncle Josh 10-inch pork strip. Black Bart San Sal Candies in black and purple aren’t a bad choice either. All of these combos work well for the wahoo.