Four hours out of Hatteras Landing Marina, Bruce Armstrong Jr. saw something from the bridge of his charterboat, the Sea Angel. Birds were circling about a half-mile off the stern of another boat.

“That’s tuna,” Armstrong shouted, and turned the boat’s wheel to head in the direction of the action. Before he got there, he instructed the anglers in the boat’s cabin to get ready for action.

Fifteen minutes, a half-dozen blackfin tuna were in the fishbox, and Armstrong was trolling back and forth over what he determined to be an underwater rock pile about 70 feet in elevation, picking up a fish or two on every pass. 

Two hours after the action started, Armstrong pointed the Sea Angel back toward Hatteras Inlet with 27 blackfin tuna and a couple of stray dolphin on ice. A great spring or fall day in the bluewater.

Except that it was in the dead of July, a month that’s not normally considered a don’t-miss fishing time for offshore anglers, even off North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

And for that, we can thank the blackfin tuna, the football-shaped and football-sized cousin of the more popular yellowfin, the tuna of choice along the North Carolina coast.

Except that for the past 10 years of so, yellowfins have rarely ventured south of Diamond Shoals northeast of Hatteras, especially after Memorial Day.

“The yellowfins are here in April and early May, but after Memorial Day, south of the shoals, you don’t catch yellowfin all summer except for an occasional fish. The yellowfins get north of the shoals, in that blended water with the Labrador current (and Gulf