Oregon Inlet Blackfin

Photos by Ric Burnley

Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Oregon Inlet Fishing Center is bustling with activity well before sunrise. Mates prep the rigs, captains welcome the crew, and everyone is excited about the day ahead. The crew from www.fishcrazy.info was quick to investigate the recent run of blackfin off Hatteras - getting details on where the fish are biting and how to catch them. All photos by Ric Burnley
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
The tuna arsenal on Tuna Fever consists of 50- and 80-pound tackle rigged with skirted ballyhoo.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
When blackfin tuna are on the menu, mate Billy Dickerson pulls a spreader bar from each of his flatlines. Not only do the bars get bites, but they attract fish to the back of the boat. Dickerson also pulls a squid chain from one short rigger and a seawitch chain from the other. The middle riggers are armed with seawitches. Blackfin are also suckers for cedar plugs or a green machine behind a bird.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Some of the best action will be early in the morning. It's better to miss some sleep than miss some bites.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Birds are a good sign of fish, but they can also snatch baits and tangle lines.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Birds are a good sign of fish, but they can also snatch baits and tangle lines.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
"We're all about participation," Billy Dickerson explains to his party. Here he teaches one of the anglers how to rig a ballyhoo. Billy uses a 9/0 hook crimped to 200 pound test monofilament. In between the crimp and the hook, he loops a 1/2 ounce eggsinker. A piece of No. 15 wire is placed in the crimping sleeve and bent up to create a pin. To lash the bait to the hook, he uses a No. 31 black rubberband looped around the crimp.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Bailer dolphin are a welcome guest on any boat. These fish will pile on nearly any bait in the spread, but a naked dink ballyhoo or small skirted ballyhoo are dolphin favorites.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
The key to finding the fish is finding the right water temperature. Captain Billy Maxwell shows a satellite shot of the Gulf Stream pointing out the area on the 400 Rocks that holds blackfin tuna.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
On the left, a black line shows Tuna Fever's track as it works the 400 rocks. Red splotches are the radar overlay of the rest of the fleet. On the right, the depth rises and falls as the boat passes over rocks and ledges.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Blackfin tuna may not be big, but they sure are tasty. When the fish are thick and the action fast - everyone has a great time bailing these feisty fish.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Fish on! Captain Billy Maxwell hands a rod down to the crew. Billy runs seawitches from the long riggers and the long and short shotgun. Favorite skirt colors on Tuna Fever are purple and white and chartreuse and white.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Big blackfin will put up an impressive fight. This fish weighed over 20 pounds and won a trophy citation from North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries for the lucky angler.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Big blackfin will put up an impressive fight. This fish weighed over 20 pounds and won a trophy citation from North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries for the lucky angler.
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
Busting up Blackfin out of Oregon Inlet
From dawn to dusk, anglers fishing on Tuna Fever get a full day on the water. Maxwell navigates the boat through Oregon Inlet Bridge at the end of the day. Ric Burnley is an outdoor writer and photographer based in Virginia Beach. Keep up on all the Mid Atlantic fishing action at www.fishcrazy.info.