2008-12-26 - Giant Bluefin Tuna - Morehead City Fishing Update
Morehead City, North Carolina – Giant Bluefin Tuna Update

December and January are GIANT BLUEFIN TUNA Time in North Carolina. These monster tunas typically start to show up at Cape Lookout Shoal around the end of November and early January. At times, the fish come in as close as only one or two miles out of the Inlet, but typically you will travel 5 to 15 miles to find them. They are feeding mainly right off the edges of the shoal in 40 to 100 feet of water. The season, started off, as it quite often does, with a decent early bite the first week of December. Some fish were brought back to the dock, and everyone had high expectations for a great winter Bluefin Season. This fishery is primarily a commercial one, and the price per pound (“cored” with head off) ranges from $8 to $25, depending on the condition of the fish and the overall supply-demand situation at the time the fish goes to market. Most all of these tuna are flown to Japan and go to auction. The fish range in size from 250 pounds right on up to 800 pounds. In order to be legally boated, the fish must measure 73 inches or greater.

A typical fishing day begins at 3:00am, as you make your way out the inlet in the dark, trying to be on the fishing grounds well before first light. Trolling begins immediately, and the normal spread is 3 to 5 lines, all pulling horse ballyhoo, with a variety of skirts over top. The most common skirt is a Hawaiian Eye/Islander Lure. Pink works well, as does Silver and various other color combinations. The baits are trolled way back, quite slow, and at least one is usually run down deep on either down-riggers or planers.

To date, unfortunately the bite has been slow. The quick start to the season, came to a screeching halt, and over the last couple weeks, only a handful of fish have been brought back to the dock. Fishing this time of year in NC can be difficult, as the weather does not always cooperate. We’ve been blessed with relatively good weather so far, but the fish have just not really shown up in any good numbers yet. The season ends January 31st, so we have a good five more weeks and expect the fishing to turn on after the holidays and peak in mid to late January. The bait is there, lots of it. So the Bluefin just need to find it, and if history is accurate, the Tuna will do just that over the next couple weeks.

Below is a picture of the lone Bluefin Tuna that our crew has boated for the season. This fish was taken on our first day out and had us all quite excited about the rest of the season! It was also a pretty nice one, measuring 87 inches, weighing in at 346 pounds, with a core weight of 291 pounds. This fish went to market and netted us (after commissions, and freight), about $15 a pound or about $4300. Since this fish was caught, we’ve fished about 7 more days, without a bite. Guess that’s why they call it “Fishing” not “Catching”! We will report back towards the end of January with a full season re-cap!

Stay tuned and tight lines,
Capt. Trey Rhyne
Over Under Sport Fishing