"We go out from 40 to 60 miles, around the Big Rock, to fish near and in the (Gulf) Stream," said the captain of the Wet-N-Wild sportfisherman.
Ross said for some reason, yellowfin tuna haven't shown up in good numbers off the central N.C. coast this year and haven't for the past two or three seasons. But wahoo and blackfins have made up for their absence many days.
"For tuna we're trolling medium-size ballyhoo with either monofilament or fluorocarbon (leaders)," he said.
That rig, for yellowfins and blackfins, can be susceptible to the sharp teeth of wahoo.
"If you're gonna have any chance at all for tuna, you have to start with mono or fluoro," said Ross (Wet-N-Wild Sportfishing, 252-504-3862 or 252-723-1110, www.wet-n-wildsportfishing.net). "I've actually caught a 50- and 60-pound wahoo with a tuna rig. But once lines start getting cut, we'll switch to wire (leaders)."
Fishing hasn't always been consistent during March, but great days can occur. Two weeks ago one of the Morehead City Waterfront charterboats returned with 11 blackfin tuna and four or five big wahoo, Ross said.
"I can't believe the bluefin tuna aren't down here since they're having such a time with them off Hatteras," he said. "But the weather's been too rough to make the run (north) to the 800s and without a sponsor (to pay for fuel), I'm not going up there."
Ross said current fuel costs are $3.39 per gallon, almost $1 per gallon higher than March 2010.
"I'll burn 150 gallons of fuel in a day," he said, "but since I own my own boat, I haven't changed my prices (for anglers)."
A half-day fishing trip costs $500, a three-quarter day $1,000 and a full day $1500. With a full six-pack (six-anglers) trip, that's only $250 per angler (plus a tip for the mate).
"I'd rather go a few days and get paid than go a lot of days and not make anything," Ross said