In a normal year, the wahoo and blackfin tuna bite in Gulf Stream waters off Myrtle Beach gradually gets better and better from Christmas until the first day of spring.

But Capt. Tom Cushman of Myrtle Beach Fishing Charters reports water temperatures in the Gulf Stream are already hitting their mark, cranking up the fishery early during the second month of the year.

"It is great right now with water temperatures well within the 70s already. We are having many 10- to 12-fish days lately," said Cushman (843-997-5850). "But with the continued wind and rain, it has been tough to find a window to go over the last few days."

When the weather clears, the wahoo and blackfin tuna will be well worth the wait in offshore waters.

Cushman typically fishes in 125 to 180 feet of water towards the drop off that is roughly between 60 and 80 miles from the jetties of Little River. The warm Gulf Stream current generally follows the break where the waters drop abruptly from several hundred to several thousand feet deep in just a few miles. The edges of these warm currents meet the cooler waters coming from shore that concentrates baitfish with their wicked adversaries nearby. However, the last few weeks indicates a more desirable bite in shallower water.

"The best action has occurred in 100 to 130 foot over the last five trips. It is where the bait has been," he said.

Anglers should not need to vary tactics or locations for wahoo versus the blackfin tuna. Wahoo will be hanging in the shadows of the tunas eating the same baitfish, and Cushman wouldn't be too surprised if the wahoo feasted on the occasional tuna as well.

Catching these fish is not too different than any other time of year, with rigged ballyhoo prevailing as the gold standard. Cushman trolls a standard black/red and purple-skirted ballyhoo down deep on in-line planers, a few flat lines, and the highly-popular shotgun line. He maintains his speed at a reasonable pace to keep the baits skimming at the surface.

"Try to troll as close to 10 knots as I can, but the faster you pull them the better," he said.