Capt. Steve "Creature" Coulter of Sea Creature Sportfishing in Hatteras said offshore fishing is showing signs of promise and appears to be shaping up for a good spring, with good catches on days when the wind and weather allows trips, including a decent showing of bluefin tuna.
"There is a good push of bluefins right now," said Coulter, who said the Gulf Stream is spinning off eddies that are holding fish. "They are across (Diamond Shoals) and up to the north, but there is a good mix of them from small mediums to commercial fish over 73 inches. The word spread pretty quickly when we started catching them, and we've got folks coming in from all over to fish for them. I had a group from Russia last week and have another this week that is waiting for the wind to lay out some."
Coulter (252-995-4832) said many fishermen coming for bluefins have been bringing their own tackle, catching them on jigs and poppers instead of trolling. It’s a lot of fun, he said, to watch them wrestle the big tunas on deeply bent jigging rods.
"Bluefins aren't the only thing biting, though," Coulter said. "The other fish aren't as reliable quite yet, but when the Gulf Stream eddies get just right, the fishing can be really good. I had a trip early last week with four fishermen that caught a half-dozen yellowfins and some gaffer dolphin. I wasn't surprised to see the yellowfins, as the rip looked good and hard when I checked the water thermals, and I was hoping they'd be running that edge, but the dolphin were a bit of an early surprise. Of course, the water was warm and clear and blue, so I really shouldn't have been surprised."
Coulter said some nice warm water eddies holding bait and fish have been working their way up the edges of the Gulf Stream. They will become more common over the next few weeks and into April, and he said it’s the time for tuna, with the winter’s last bluefin mixed with yellowfins, blackfins and even a few bigeyes.
The best tip he’s got for offshore fishermen is to watch the seawater thermal charts and pay attention to how the Gulf Stream and its eddies are moving. The charts have shown some hard temperature changes, with good, clean water, and those are the spots holding bait and fish. Coulter uses Hilton's Realtime Navigator Service (www.realtime-navigator.com), an on-line subscription service that provides seawater thermal imaging, plus other information to help find the eddies and other locations that should be holding fish.