February 16, 2018 Hatteras Fishing in February
By CAPTAIN DAVID WILSON
probably jumped the gun when I wrote about bluefins in January.
Yes, that is when they typically make their appearance, but in February
things really get rockin’. Of course, things are always subject
to change, but for the last ten or more years, February and March have
been the best of it.
Back in the 1990s when we first realized what a phenomenal fishery we
had right outside our back door, people came from all over the world
for a chance to tackle one of these beasts.
Nobody owned 130-pound class tackle, and we quickly saw that 80s
weren’t gonna cut it. We scrambled to order one or two 130# rod
and reel combos, heavy line and 16-0 circle hooks. Captain Omie
always said that “rigged up” was the biggest word in the dictionary,
but we were doing the best we could to get there!
Even though we were doing all we could to keep our fighting chairs from
breaking and rod holders tearing out of our washboards, people always
want to find a greater challenge. We bought “stand up” tackle and
fighting harnesses for those brave enough to wrestle a Bluefin on their
feet. Still, after a few more years, 50# stand-up gear proved not
to be enough of a challenge for some.
As technology made advances in spectra braided fishing lines, it became
possible, because of the super small diameter, to fill a much smaller
reel with an adequate amount of line. Technology made advances in
the rods and reels as well, making it possible to fight a fish with
forty pounds of drag on a reel not much bigger than your fist.
Rods with the diameter of a pencil would accommodate these super strong
reels. This tackle is most commonly used with vertical jigs and
has become very popular and effective. Most of the guys I’ve
talked to make it a priority to hit the gym for a couple months before
one of these adventures.
Many winters yield great yellowfin fishing as well. Last winter
was great, and all the reports I’ve heard as recent as last week were
of great yellowfin and blackfin tuna fishing. Yeah, it can be a
little chilly, but once you hit water that’s in the 70 or more degree
range, the air warms right up as well. I’ve had some of my best
yellowfin catches in February.
Gillnetters are hard at work, with some still after the croakers, while
others stay closer to shore and hope for a catch of dog sharks.
Longliners can still get a great catch of tuna and swords out in the
deep as well.
As far as I know, the puppy drum fishing has still been good in the
surf. A couple of weeks ago there were reports of “the best I’ve
ever seen.” I was fortunate enough to have one dropped off at my
house for supper one night!
The boatyard in Buxton is getting busy as the charter boats haul out to
do their annual maintenance to prepare for another season. Bottom
paint must be applied to prevent the growth of barnacles and
slime. Zincs are fastened to the running gear as a sacrificial
metal, to prevent electrolysis from damaging or destroying shafts,
props and rudders. Sometimes bigger projects are planned, but the
annual stuff is always necessary.
Today the weather is supposed to be in the 70s again, and even though
it may just be teasing us, we are reminded that spring isn’t far