January 19, 2015
Outer Banks Angling: Getting jiggy
Winter is finally in full swing on the Outer Banks. The air is cold, the water is cold, and the fishing is mostly slow.
because the weather has turned, doesn’t mean the fishing has completely
shut down. I had a chance to get offshore and chase some blackfin tuna
on butterfly jigs.
This particular trip was supposed to be a
mothership trip, where we haul kayaks out on the back of an offshore
boat and then deploy them to hunt pelagic fish. On this day, I had
three other kayakers experienced in this type of adventure and two
We were all looking forward to this, as it had been a
while since all of us had fished together, but the overall conditions
got the better of us. While the ocean was a little choppy and the wind
was a tad bit blustery when we got out to the fishing grounds, it was
still fishable from the kayaks.
However, the current was racing
and the schools of fish were small. There were plenty of fish in the
big picture, but given the pace of the current, it would have been very
difficult for us to have jigged fish. We would have caught from the
kayaks, but we wouldn’t have caught much.
So, we all decided to stay on the boat and fish this day, so that we could maximize our catch.
first got the opportunity to butterfly jig over six years ago, and I
have been in love with it ever since. This form of fishing uses very
light tackle in the grand scheme.
A light-tip conventional or
spinning rod paired with a reel that can hold a few hundred yards or so
of 50-pound braid is generally what one needs. And, yes, there are rods
specifically designed for this and they give better action to the jig
than a standard rod.
The jigs are generally long and slender and come in a variety of weights and colors.
This type of offshore fishing allows for a lot of hands-on fishing for the anglers, as opposed to traditional trolling.
braided line generally used for this is measured by meters or feet that
are represented by different colors. This gives anglers the advantage
of being able to know just how far down the jig has been dropped by
counting the different colors as they go off the reel.
also allows the captain to mark fish at a certain depth and then tell
the anglers just how many colors to let out to be as close to their
depth as possible -- and it’s highly effective.
jigging action that the angler must use takes time to get used to and
to be very good at, but that doesn’t mean a novice will not catch fish.
It simply means that the better you get at it, the more often you will
hook-up. And that is the reason this type of fishing is very addictive.
you are fishing like this, it’s quite the rush to be ripping on a jig
one moment and having it feel as if you hooked into a brick wall the
next. Because, no matter the size of the offshore fish you hook into,
you know it when it happens and it’s an excellent adrenaline rush.
beauty part of this manner of fishing is that you never truly know what
you might have hooked, and it’s possible to hook just about anything
that swims with a butterfly jig. I have seen blackfin tuna, bluefin
tuna, yellowfin tuna, false albacore, amberjacks, wahoo, white marlin
and grouper myself, but that list has no bounds.
I like to refer to it as potluck fishing.
On this particular day when we went out, we mainly caught blackfin, along with a few amberjacks.
average size of the tuna was less than 10 pounds, and we saw quite a
few that were less than 5 pounds, but we did manage a few that required
This was truthfully not bad, given the fact that
blackfin are the smallest of the sought-after tuna, and in North
Carolina a citation size fish is a mere 20 pounds.
We caught close to 60 fish -- not bad for six anglers.
There were five other boats on the water that day and all fared well.
and after this trip, the boats hunting blackfin have done well, and I
can only imagine that this will continue for a while, when the
conditions are right.
gang and I were onboard the Good Times out of Hatteras Harbor Marina,
but there are plenty of boats offering this type of trip and you can
call around to the local marinas to find out more or to book a
trip. There are definitely a lot more local boats offering this
kind of fishing now than there were when I first tried it. It has grown
than blackfin, there isn’t a whole lot going on offshore right now.
However, there have been several large bluefin tuna taken to the south
of us near Morehead City.
One of these tuna was just over a
1,000 pounds, and looks to have shattered the current state record by
almost 300 pounds. However, this fish will not officially take the
record, since it was sold commercially.
As of right now, I know of no bluefin taken in our immediate waters or any waters to the north of us.
how is it that there have been several taken so much farther south of
us, since these fish migrate at this time of year from north to south?
don’t know. I am not a scientist and there are plenty of times when
there is no rhyme nor reason for what goes on in the ocean.
piers are closed and surf fishing has been slow overall, though a fair
number of puppy drum have been caught in the Oregon Inlet area as of
late. Some of the pups have been caught on bait, and others on lures.
You can stop by any local tackle shop and ask for advice on what you
should be using.
Once again, it is winter and I will refrain
from a weather prediction, since, at this time of year, that’s like
guessing winning lottery numbers. However, I will say that while
fishing is slow overall, there is something to be caught around
here and giving it a go and failing is better than sitting at home any
Go fishing and play hard.
Alderman has lived on the Outer Banks for more than 13 years and has
worked in the recreational fishing industry the entire time. A former
variety fishing TV show host, beach fishing guide, tackle shop and pier
employee, Rob currently owns and operates Outer Banks Kayak Fishing. He
is on the Pro-Staff of Bending Branches LLC, Wilderness Systems Kayaks,
Release Reels, Yakattack and is an ambassador for Ugly Stik. You can
follow his adventures at www.FishMilitia.com or OuterBanksKayakFishing.com.)