Capt. Karl Helmkamp of Fistful Sportfishing in Manteo said white marlin fishing out of Oregon Inlet continues to be extremely good. He said cold fronts have moved the marlin down the coast and they are a little closer to the inlet than when the hot bite began several weeks ago.
“Our white marlin bite is usually good during September, but this year it has really been off the hook,” Helmkamp said. “It has been a rare day that we haven’t had at least 10 shots at whites. The action really has been almost unbelievable. This is world-class fishing anywhere in the world.”
Helmkamp (252-395-1907) said white marlin are typically being found in 50 to 70 fathoms of water from the 850 line up to the 000 line – numbers that refer to former Loran C coordinates that are roughly northeast of Oregon Inlet.
“It really isn’t hard to tell once you reach the right area,” Helmkamp said. “The birds give them away from a distance, and there are all kinds of birds. Once you get closer, you can often see free jumpers, and when you get to where you can see the bait balls, there are cutters running through them. It’s not uncommon to see several fish converging on a bait ball.”
Helmkamp said that while white marlin can sometimes be difficult to hook and therefore a little frustrating, it really isn’t hard fishing.
“Once we get in the area and are seeing fish or birds or something that indicates they should be nearby, we are just pulling a couple of dredges and teasers,” he said. “When the whites come in to the teasers and dredges, we have some dink baits rigged with circle hooks and drop them back to the fish, while easing the teasers closer to the boat.
“When a white picks up the bait, you have to give it a long drop back to be sure it has the bait back in its mouth,” Helmkamp said. “After waiting for a while, you push the reel back into gear and get ready for when the line comes tight. If you let it have enough line, when the line comes tight it pulls the circle hook into the corner of the marlin’s mouth, where it hooks up and it’s game on.”
Once the hook is set, the fun begins. Helmkamp said white marlin are very acrobatic and usually put on quite a show. They typically make several blistering runs, jump several times, tailwalk and more. This is exciting fishing.
All of this wild action, and the fact that they are just a little larger than sailfish and can easily be handled on lighter tackle, is a big part of what makes white marlin such a favorite of fishermen. It also doesn’t hurt that they are off Oregon Inlet right now in incredible numbers and almost every day several boats record catches – and releases – of 20 or more.