Fishing News/Destination Bluefin

by Dr. Ken Neill, III


Rudee Inlet, like Hatteras and Morehead City before, has become a bluefin tuna destination.

The tuna have been here for a couple of weeks now and the fishermen have followed. Boats have come down from the north and up from the south to get in on the action. The average size of these fish is running in the 300 to 400 pound range. Smaller and larger fish are available. A lot of the interest is due to the monetary value of these fish. The general category is open. Vessels with these permits or a charter boat permit can sell one of these big fish per day and the over-seas buyers have set up shop in Virginia Beach. From the recreational standpoint, a new state record is a daily possibility. Yellowfin tuna and wahoo are also out there but right now but the offshore fleet is after the big bluefin. They may be here through December or they may be gone tomorrow. In general these fish are being caught from the 400 line down to the 300 in 20 to 30 fathoms. If I was going tomorrow, I would set up at the 350 in 25 fathoms. The fish are being caught on the troll and the chunk. Seabass are active on the inshore wrecks. Tautog action is great in the bay though most bay fishermen are targeting stripers. Striper action is still focused around the bridges though some open water schools are around. Some bigger fish, 30 something pound class have been caught up the bay around Smith Point and along the CBBT. There have been some great flounder catches by anglers fishing for them around various wrecks like the Cape Henry Wreck, the Tower Reef, and on out at the Triangle Wrecks.

Bluefin Tuna

Nov 3: Empty Wallet - 350 pounds, Striker - 308 pounds

Nov 4: Empty Wallet - 400 pounds

Nov 5: Dr. James Wright - 393 pounds - pending state record, Chris Parker-349 pounds, Rachael Davanzo - 362 pounds

Nov 10: Jorj Head - 123 pounds, Don Crist - 300 pounds

Nov. 11: Robert Manus - 348 pounds.

There have been a lot more. The ones being sold are headed and gutted at sea. Some are weighing in the mid-300 pound range cleaned. There are some big fish out there. Dr. Wright catching the new state record is no surprise. The guy is a legend around here. I donít know how old Dr. Wright is, but it seems that I grew up watching his TV show and I still have a library of How To tapes with Dr. Jim. He must be in decent shape to crank in a beast like that.

Nov. 2, Capt. Nolan Agner fished out of Oregon Inlet. They fished the same area that they caught all the tuna the day before. Fishing was slower but they still managed seven nice yellowfin. They had something big on that they broke off after most of the backing was gone from the reel.

Nov. 1-2, We went to the Norfolk Canyon for our first overnighter. Amazing amount of life out there. There was a lot of squid and tinker mackerel and plenty of stuff we could not identify. I tagged and released a 61-inch swordfish. Another boat was out there and they also released a swordfish. Sunday morning, we trolled along the south wall of the canyon for yellowfin. We got six in the 50 pound class. The largest weighed 55 pounds. The little bluefin were in the area and we caught one. Closer to shore from the tip of the canyon into 30 fathoms, there was a very good wahoo bite. One boat came in with five to 62 pounds. Around that 30 fathom curve the big bluefin have taken residence - fish in the 150-400 pound range. There are some yellowfin in with the big bluefin. It was absolutely slick calm out there the whole time. Oh, there was a blue marlin, a white marlin, and a good number of mako in the mix yesterday. With the mako and wahoos, there were a lot of bite offs but a good number managed to make it to the gaff. We had something very big on an 80 wide for awhile before it broke us off. My guess is that it was a big Mako. Definitely bigger than that 154-pounder I caught earlier in the year. Jeff Dail caught a chain dogfish when he wanted to find out what was on the bottom 700 feet down. Steve Powell was my other angler. He skipped his own birthday party to make the trip.

Nov. 1, Capt. Nolan Agner took a charter out of Oregon Inlet. They fished the 635 line around 100 fathoms. By lunch time they were headed home with a catch of 16 yellowfin and a nice king mackerel. Nolan said that there was a great king bite in around 50 fathoms.

Nov. 1, Craige Stallings, George Skinner, and Doug Roper wire lined the CBBT. They only kept 5 stripers to 24 inches.

Oct. 30, Bill Mitchem and his dad fished the CBBT. Casting to the pilings, they caught 52 stripers in the 20 to 26 inch range.

Dr. Neill writes a weekly account of salt-water fishing throughout the bay area for the Peninsula Salt Water Sport Fishermanís Association (www.pswfa.com).