Albacore are an unusual visitor to offshore waters out of most North Carolina ports, but one showed up unexpectedly last weekend in the fish box of an Oak Ridge couple. According to Matt Lamb of Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach, David and Nicole Dick headed offshore to the Big Rock for their first trip in a new boat, and they landed a big tuna they thought was a blackfin. The Dicks brought the 36-pound fish to Lamb, who identified it as an albacore tuna.

“They thought it was a blackfin, but it wasn’t,” said Lamb. “It didn’t look right to me, but I had never seen one before, so I got out a fish ID book and checked.”

Extra-long pectoral fins gave the fish away as albacore, a white-meat tuna that are rarely caught off North Carolina – but not unheard of. They usually travel the offshore side of the Gulf Stream as they pass North Carolina, but occasionally one moves inshore and is caught. The state-record fish, a 62-pound specimen, was caught by Brien Hamer off Oregon Inlet in 2001.

Lamb (252-240-3474) said other catches from the Gulf Stream have included wahoo, lots of blackfin tuna, plus a few scattered yellowfins and dolphin. He said the water was still cool offshore, and as soon as it warms a few degrees, he expects the fishing to get really good.