Blackfin tuna are not quite as numerous in South Carolina’s offshore waters during the summer, but along with Mahi-mahi, they make up the majority of bluewater catches through the hotter months.
Ned Campbell, a charter captain who owns Murrells Inlet Outpost, said prime time for blackfin is usually April and May, but anglers have to head a long way offshore to find them. During the summer, fish aren’t as numerous, but they tend to be closer to shore.
“In the spring, we catch most of them out in deep water, along the Break, along the edge of the Gulf Stream,” he said. “By summer, you can get lucky and find them in 140 feet of water. The water temperature is so similar from the beach to the Gulf Stream; the water is all 80 degrees. The fish disperse, and it’s hard to get the numbers, but you see them. We’ve caught them at the Parking Lot, the Jungle and Belkie Bear.”
Campbell said trolling small ballyhoo behind sea witches is the most-productie way to find blackfin — and Mahi mahi — but Green Machines trolled behind Boone birds and chugging-style plugs also account for some fish.
“Those chuggers put off the right bubble trail for tuna,” he said. “An Ilander chugger will work, or a Blue Water Candy with a chugger head. I’ve caught ‘em on all kinds of rigs, and a cedar plug works, too.”
HOW TO GET THERE — Murrells Inlet is at the southern end of South Carolina’s Grand Strand, accessed from US 17 from north and south.
WHEN TO GO — Blackfin tuna fishing peaks in late April and May, but bluewater captains continue to catch fish through the summer.
BEST TECHNIQUES — Troll small ballyhoo behind sea witches (blue/white, pink/white, pink/blue) or Green Machines behind Boone birds.
FISHING INFO/GUIDES — Ned Campbell, Murrells Inlet Outpost, 843-651-6602. See also Guides and Charters in Classifieds.
ACCOMMODATIONS — Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, www.visitmyrtlebeach.com/plan/about-us/cities-towns/murrells-inlet/.