Bluefin tuna! A salt water fishing report when talking about fishing in North Carolina would not be complete without talking about how to catch tuna. Giant bluefin tuna, and false albacore are what the coast of North Carolina is famous for in November.
False albacore are being caught in front of Shackleford Banks (Locally referred to as “Shack”) and out in the hook of Cape Lookout. President Bush has been known to venture these waters. It’s beautiful location fishing in the hook of Cape Lookout in view of the historic lighthouse. Protected from winds by both Shackleford Banks and Core banks, fly fishing for false albacore here is some of the best in the world.
Harker’s Island will be the nearest drive-able location to launch a boat from to get to Cape Lookout. Most folks will launch from Beaufort, Morehead City or Atlantic Beach. All three are cited behind or beside Beaufort Inlet. This very deep and very wide inlet is used by the North Carolina State Port to receive ships from all around the world so there will be no problems getting out.
The advantage of heading out of Beaufort Inlet is that the eastern side of the inlet is the western end of Shackleford banks. So for the False Albacore fishermen just head out, hang a left and start looking for the fish jumping and the waters boiling!
Blistering Bluefin Tuna Catches in North Carolina
North Carolina is known as one of the best place to catch tuna, particularly bluefin tuna. These big, monsters of the deep start moving in close to the Crystal Coast area starting in November. The bite really turns on in December and January.
Hatteras Island, Oregon Inlet, Ocracoke and all of the Outer Banks have dominated catching bluefin tuna during the first quarter of the year for some time now.
In March of 2011 a new North Carolina state record bluefin tuna was caught off of Oregon Inlet by angler Corey Schultz of Waverly, Virginia.
The bluefin tuna weighed over 805 pounds. The fish measured 112 inches in length with a girth of 76 inches. The name of the boat was Sea Breeze captained by Ned Ashby.
A fish like that would give the guys on the National Geographic channel television program Wicked Tuna cause for celebration.
Wicked tuna is very entertaining TV show. Here’s the National Geographic Channel Schedule to tune in to the next episode.
But bluefin tuna fishing is a lot different in the Crystal Coast of North Carolina region. Bluefins move in close to the beach here. I’ve been only 1 or 2 miles out and hooked up.
Another big difference is that the waters off of the Crystal Coast encompassing Bogue Banks, Shackleford Banks and Cape Lookout Shoals are relatively shallow. For the most part you will only be in 40-60 feet of water. Because of these shallow waters when a bluefin strikes instead sounding (heading down) they go out. In a matter of seconds a bluefin can spool your reel.
Bluefin tuna are a schooling fish. Where there is one there are many. North Carolina is very fortunate in that in an average year bluefin tunas average in the 300-500 pound class.
A North Carolina fishing license is required as well as a host of other permits to fish for bluefin tuna. Bluefins are regulated on the state and federal level as well as by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas or ICCAT. But if you are going to hire a NC charter boat then more than likely they have all of the required permits. They may even have wants known as a “blanket license” which means you wouldn’t even have to purchase a state fishing license to fish from their boat! But double check before you board!
Apply for a NMFS permit: Bluefin tuna
Tag a Giant Bluefin Tuna conservation series: Bluefin tuna
3/4 Million Dollars for one bluefin tuna: Bluefin tuna