Bluewater anglers are getting an early start on the trolling season as both dolphin and wahoo have showed up off the South Carolina coast nearly a month ahead of schedule.

According to Capt. Steve Gaskins of Sea J’s Sportfishing out of Toler’s Cove Marina on Mount Pleasant, an early Gulf Stream pattern is pushing warmer water up from Florida, and he and other charter captains are catching dolphin, wahoo and an occasional billfish less than 50 miles offshore.

“The dolphin bite has been phenomenal,” said Gaskins (843-670-4874). “We’re almost a month ahead of schedule, and the bite is only going to get better from here on out.”

Riding the currents of the Gulf Stream, dolphin can be found in large numbers close to patches of floating grass. Gaskins said traditional spots such as the Georgetown Hole, 226 Hole, 380 Hole and SW Edisto Banks have all been productive with the influx of bluewater.

“On the last couple of trips, I have only made it out to 200 or 225 feet of water before the weed lines and dolphin started showing up,” Gaskins said. “We’re getting bites well on this side of the 226 Hole, and that’s unheard of for this early in the season.”

Gaskins and his crew troll up to six lines, with the baits of choice being ballyhoo and a trolling feather. Two lines typically run off each outrigger, with two lines running off the stern.

“Anything in candy color – that’s bright blues, pinks and fluorescent candy – seem to be getting the most hits,” Gaskins said. “That’s trolling the baits right along the edge of the weeds or sometimes through smaller dispersed patches.”

With offshore temperatures in the mid- to upper-70s, Gaskins will plot his trolling course based on sharp temperature breaks in the vicinity of weed lines. The speed of the troll seems to vary day-to-day.

“I usually start out slow, and if we’re not getting bites by say 8 to 8:30 in the morning, I’ll speed up,” he said. “The last trip out, we were running about 7 to 8 knots and getting bites pretty regularly. A lot of finding the right boat speed is just trial and error.