"It's been a real good fall so far," said Capt. Fin Gaddy of the Qualifier, who fishes from the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. "There has been a good group of fish, and we have enough boats fishing most days that somebody finds them. They can be hard to hook, but most boats are getting multiple shots each day, and that is when the numbers add up."
Gaddy (252-473-9410) said late September and October is usually a good time for billfish off Oregon Inlet, and this year has been exceptional. He said some days you pick up a fish here and there before realizing at the end of the day that you've released a dozen, and other days they have blitz your spread continually.
Gaddy should know, too; he had one day recently with more than 20 releases: 21 white marlin and a few blue marlin. He said he was almost a little embarrassed with that day, as he was busy and didn't realize just how good things were going until the numbers were high.
"Most fishermen would do well to simplify their spread when fishing for white marlin," Gaddy said. "We usually fish two dredges in a spread of four baits unless there are blue marlin around. If there are blues in the area, I'll add a fifth line with a big bait. I like to see the marlin swimming into the spread and be ready when it picks up a bait, rather than waiting for it to strike to know it's there and then having to play catch-up."
Gaddy said the water conditions have been good for a while, and there is lots of bait, which is why the marlin are staying around, the largest numbers straight out of Oregon Inlet and to the northeast. He said the best information you can have to find them begins with where they bit best the day before. However, when he is guessing, he heads for lightly blended water, in 50 to 100 fathoms.
Gaddy's preference of blended water has a little bit of green blended with the deep purple/blue of the hottest part of the Gulf Stream, and it is a few degrees cooler than the darker water. He said 75 degrees is a good starting point, and he is more concerned with the water clarity than the exact temperature. He likes crystal clear water. If the water is warm, but not too hot, clear and holding bait, it has good potential to be holding marlin.
Gaddy said large reels aren't extremely important, but high-speed reels help land more fish. He fishes Fin-Nor Marquesa reels, and many times, the fast retrieve speed allows keeping the belly out of the line that received the initial strike while circling to pick up a second or third strike.
The white marlin bite is white hot off Oregon Inlet. There are also enough blue marlin and sailfish in the mix that a couple of boats are recording grand slams on a daily basis. If a close encounter with a Tar Heel billfish is in your future, Oregon Inlet is the place and right now is about as good as the timing gets.