The offshore fishing out of Hatteras has been consistently good all spring, and it's ramping up another notch heading into this week's Hatteras Village Offshore Open tournament, with a variety of tuna, a growing number of dolphin, good wahoo and some hungry billfish in the baits lately.

Capt. Jeremy Hicks, who runs the Capt. Snag charterboat out of Oden's Dock in Hatteras, said the fishing is as close to ideal as possible heading into the tournament, the first N.C. Governor's Cup Billfish Series event of the year. When all the primary offshore species are present and feeding, the fishing is about as good as it gets, and it's pretty darn good. 

 

"With the warming weather last week, the gaffer (dolphin) fishing got good real quick," said Hicks (252-996-0977). "Hopefully, the couple of cooler days at the beginning of this week won't slow it, and the fishing will be as hot as it was a couple of days ago. My expectations are for the bite to continue, and when you have some gaffers, wahoo and tuna, plus a shot at a billfish, that's when the fishing is Outer Banks good."

 

Hicks has been finding the best action south of Hatteras Inlet, some days beyond the break out to the deep blue. Because of the numbers of wahoo, fishermen are pulling most baits on wire leaders during charters. Bright colors are his best attractors in the warming water; he is running a mixture of sea witches and Ilander Lures in his spread. Hicks likes to offer some meat on his lures; all are rigged with medium ballyhoo. 

 

"To find fish, you have to find something that will gather them," Hicks said. "Sometimes this is a weed line that is easy to see and follow, and some times it is a rip, color change or temperature break. Once the fish attractor is found, it's time to put out a spread of baits and start trolling. A float, which is the local term for any offshore floating object, will often hold a few dolphin and is worth circling a time or two to see who is hiding under it. Sometimes you only see a dolphin or two, but a school is deep below them and can be coaxed up."

 

Hicks said it is a real thrill to have a billfish come up in the baits, especially when everyone in the charter sees it. It's even more of a thrill when it strikes and gets hooked and the battle begins. It's that time of year off Hatteras, too.  Several blue and white marlin were hooked by Hatteras charter boats since last weekend, and many fishermen are eagerly looking forward to the tournament this weekend.