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The ultimate in bluefin tuna tackle and rigs. Custom East of Chatham squid rigs, daisy chains, and lures set the new standard in quality and craftsmanship. designed and built by commercial bluefin tuna fisherman with one goal in mind...catch bluefin tuna! When you see the East of Chatham logo, you can be assured that the product is manufactured with the highest quality components available.
 
The ultimate in bluefin tuna tackle and rigs. Custom East of Chatham squid rigs, daisy chains, and lures set the new standard in quality and craftsmanship. designed and built by commercial bluefin tuna fisherman with one goal in mind...catch bluefin tuna! When you see the East of Chatham logo, you can be assured that the product is manufactured with the highest quality components available.
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The ultimate in bluefin tuna tackle and rigs. Custom East of Chatham squid rigs, daisy chains, and lures set the new standard in quality and craftsmanship. designed and built by commercial bluefin tuna fisherman with one goal in mind...catch bluefin tuna! When you see the East of Chatham logo, you can be assured that the product is manufactured with the highest quality components available.
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The ultimate in bluefin tuna tackle and rigs. Custom East of Chatham squid rigs, daisy chains, and lures set the new standard in quality and craftsmanship. designed and built by commercial bluefin tuna fisherman with one goal in mind...catch bluefin tuna! When you see the East of Chatham logo, you can be assured that the product is manufactured with the highest quality components available.
 
The ultimate in bluefin tuna tackle and rigs. Custom East of Chatham squid rigs, daisy chains, and lures set the new standard in quality and craftsmanship. designed and built by commercial bluefin tuna fisherman with one goal in mind...catch bluefin tuna! When you see the East of Chatham logo, you can be assured that the product is manufactured with the highest quality components available.
 
 
The ultimate in bluefin tuna tackle and rigs. Custom East of Chatham squid rigs, daisy chains, and lures set the new standard in quality and craftsmanship. designed and built by commercial bluefin tuna fisherman with one goal in mind...catch bluefin tuna! When you see the East of Chatham logo, you can be assured that the product is manufactured with the highest quality components available.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Winter Bluefin Tuna off Hatteras Island!

 
Story by David Dodsworth

If you love to fish, like I do, winter can be a long, hard season. Sure, there is always some sort of fishing available. Where I live, you have one option; chop a hole in the ice and bundle up! Granted, that is fishing, but somehow it just doesn’t compare to the thrill of doing battle with a truly large fish, 20 miles offshore.

Recently I had the good fortune to become involved in the fishing lure business. Not just any lures, mind you, but specialized, custom, big game trolling lures. Naturally, I wouldn’t put the Offshore Pursuits label on any product that I didn’t test. So, as much as it pained me to do so, I had to head offshore (strictly business, mind you)!

For big fish, in late December, there is only one option (in my opinion), North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Specifically (again, in my opinion), Hatteras Village.

Hatteras Village is nothing short of a fisherman’s paradise. Surrounded by water on three sides, you are literally a cast away from water, no matter where you are. In late December, the "season" is over, the crowds are gone, and the fishing is absolutely fantastic!

Back to business! As I said, the purpose of this trip was to test a new, deepwater trolling lure. If you want to truly test a lure’s effectiveness, then you better seek out the best in the business to be your guide. In Hatteras Village, that means Capt. Dan Rooks of the "Tuna Duck". I had called Dan and told him that I had a strange request; I wanted to stray from the normal fishing methods and troll artificials for giant bluefin. He was, in my opinion, a little skeptical, but being the true professional that he is, agreed to give it his best shot.

We planned on a two-day test. The first day we would concentrate on yellowfin and other Gulf Stream predators. The second day would be strictly bluefin!

Day 1

I awoke in the predawn darkness to the sound of wind howling through the outriggers of the fleet docked below our room. At this point it was blowing at 15 knots, with no chance of any improvement. A check by Dan of the marine forecast confirmed my worst fears. Of the three days that we had allowed, this was going to be the best chance to get offshore. Most normal people would probably have turned around and went back to bed. I am not one, where fishing is concerned, to be accused of being normal! With daylight breaking, we slipped out of Hatteras Harbor and headed offshore.

The plan was to steam to the Gulf Stream and troll the inside edges of the warm water. The trip out was, lets say, interesting. The air temperature was right at 40 degrees, the wind was blowing 15 to 20 knots, and the seas were building. But, this is all part of the game. The temperature break at the Gulf Stream was 61 degrees / 68 degrees, and the stream was moving at 3.5 knots. While still in the cold water, we slowed to 6.5 knots and set the baits.

Our plan was to troll 5 rigged ballyhoo, and one Offshore Pursuits’ Bluefin Series lure. The thinking here was that if there were fish around, they would hit the ballyhoo. Once we found the fish, we could begin experimenting with the lures. After a whole lot of inaction, we picked up 2 tiny blackfin tuna on the ballyhoo. This was not a good sign. We decided to depart the Gulf Stream and head back into the cold water. This is when things started to get interesting. Still trolling 5 ballyhoo and 1 lure, the lure went off (red/black). It produced a small king mackerel. With the pounding that we had taken so far, this was fantastic! At this point we decided to troll 2 lures and 3 ballyhoo. Again the lure went off (red/black), and produced a 40" king mackerel. After 2 missed strikes, we hooked up on a small mako (again, on the red/black). At this point the weather was taking a turn for the worse. The wind had switched to the southwest and was forecast to blow 35 knots. We saw 30 of that before we made it in. Considering the conditions, in my opinion, it was a very good day of fishing. The big test would come in the morning, bluefin tuna on the troll! I couldn’t wait!

Day 2

Day 2 proved unfishable, with winds gusting at over 40 knots. This left us one more chance to tackle the bluefin.

Day 3

Day 3 started out to be a mirror of day 1. The wind was blowing at 17 knots out of the west, but wasn’t forecast to get much above 20 knots. There weren’t a whole lot of options at this point. We could either hope for the best and fish it, or call it quits and fly home. I guess you can figure out what we did!

Today’s plan was to fish a spread of 3 lures at different lengths, trolling around the numerous wrecks in the area, in search of bluefin tuna. We would troll at 6.5/7.5 knots, and fast troll between wrecks at 10 knots. Our gear consisted of (2) 130 lb class rigs, fished 1 each side, and (1) 80 lb, fished from the bridge. Our lures were Offshore Pursuits’ Bluefin Series deepwater trolling lures. These lures weigh an incredible 24 ounces, and fish a full 30 feet deep. It is impossible for me to accurately describe the action of these lures. I can tell you two things; you have never seen action like this before, and it drives fish insane!

The first 2 wrecks produced no action. On the third wreck, we came upon schools of small albacore feeding on the surface. We circled the wreck twice before the first strike came. The fish hammered a Fire Tiger, on wire, fished 75 yards back. The rod was handed down from the bridge, and the fight began. After 40 minutes of expert teamwork between Capt. Dan Rooks and mate Kenny Koci, we got our first glimpse of the fish. It was a bluefin tuna, and it was a giant! We estimated the fish to be approximately 80", and 300 pounds. After lots of give and take, we lost the fish 15 feet from the boat. Although somewhat disappointed, we were happy that we got a close up look at the fish. We proved that the Offshore Pursuits’ Bluefin series could catch bluefin on the troll! Excited now, we reset all the lines and continued the hunt. This wreck didn’t produce another strike, so we fast trolled to the next wreck. Before long, the 130, trolling a Blue Mackerel on mono, went off. Again, expert teamwork between Captain and Mate brought the fish close. This fish wasn’t as large as the previous fish, but it was a good fish never the less. After a 20-minute fight, the fish was along side. It was determined that this fish was a keeper (under 73"), so it was gaffed and brought aboard. The fish proved to be 68", and approximately 190 pounds. Not too shabby! We bled and iced the fish, and set out once again. To our delight, it turned out to be one of those days when the weather forecast was wrong. The wind had died, the temperature was nearing 60 degrees, and other than a moderate swell, the sea was calm.

At this point we decided to investigate the shallow water close to the beach. There had been reports of fish close to the beach, about 50 miles north of there. Maybe those same fish had moved down the coast. It was worth a try, so we trolled to within a mile of the beach. This was shallow water, only 35 feet deep, and I had my doubts. But, once again, the expertise of Capt. Dan Rooks proved unquestionable. The acres of birds told us that something was happening. A vicious strike on a Steelhead pattern showed us that we were into a large school of hungry bluefin! After a short fight with a big fish, we lost this one. Another strike 5 minutes later also lost. We were into a situation that offshore anglers dream about. Acres of big, hungry fish! Unfortunately, we had to run in order to make the inlet before dark. I can only dream of what might have been had we been able to work those fish for another hour or two.

Thanks to Capt. Dan Rooks, and mate Kenny Koci, day 3 proved to be a huge success. We had proved what we had set out to, and had a fantastic time doing it. The "Tuna Duck" proved to be the ultimate fishing machine, and Captain and crew proved why they are considered the very best.

If you would like to fish North Carolina’s Outer Banks, I highly recommend Capt. Dan Rooks and the "Tuna Duck". The "Tuna Duck" fishes year round for Marlin, Bluefin tuna, Yellowfin tuna, Sailfish, Wahoo, King Mackerel, and dolphin (Dorado). For more information, you can reach Captain Dan Rooks at (252) 995-3076, or visit the "Tuna Duck" website.

If you go to Hatteras Village, I recommend the Village Marina Motel. It is right at the marina, it’s clean, comfortable, the rates are great, and the owners are nothing short of fantastic. The hospitality of this area is unlike anything I have ever seen. I have been to a lot of places, none of which compare to Hatteras Village. For more information, you can contact the Hatteras Village Marina Motel at (252) 986-2522. 

 

 
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fishing the waters of cape cod and beyond, Offshore Pursuits provides current fishing reports, charter information, premium fishing tackle, news, and forums.
 
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fishing the waters of cape cod and beyond, Offshore Pursuits provides current fishing reports, charter information, premium fishing tackle, news, and forums.
 
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