Tuna take charge

This angler was fishing with Salt Fever Guide Service out of Ocean Isle, NC when he caught this tuna.

Trolling is the key for Ocean Isle tuna

For Capt. Riley Adkins of Salt Fever Guide Service in Ocean Isle Beach, NC, March is a welcome month that transitions into warmer weather. But it doesn’t happen immediately.

“In March, everything kind of starts coming together and forming up for spring. You start seeing a lot of the bait show up,” he said.

March brings opportunities for numerous species of fish. And Adkins said they spend a lot of time offshore, fishing for tuna.

“We’re primarily trolling offshore for blackfin tunas and yellowfin tunas,” he said.

Adkins said a typical day this month will include a run to the offshore fishing grounds of the Gulf Stream, which his crew can reach quickly in one of their Freeman Boat Works catamarans.

Trolling is a key tactic

“It’s a great time for a Gulf Stream trip, running out to the break and doing some trolling. We use a five- to seven-rod spread pulling ballyhoo and some hard baits, trying to get those fish to raise up and get them to the surface,” he said.

While trolling is the main technique used this month, Adkins said anglers can also catch them with live bait and by jigging for them.

“We are primarily trolling, using those ballyhoo, hard baits and teasers. But we start getting into jigging them and live-baiting them as well this month,” he said.

During the early part of this month, Adkins said anglers should expect to catch more blackfins than yellowfins. But toward the end of the month and into April, the yellowfin bite really gets going strong.

“It’s a good numbers month, more than big fish month, usually. But that kind of changes from year to year. Typically the early part of the month is big numbers of blackfin tunas. Later in the month is when the yellowfins start to bite stronger. And some years, some really big ones will be mixed in,” he said.

More than just tuna

For anglers looking for something other than tuna this month, Riley said they have plenty of other options.

“The king mackerel push in strong this month, and that bite gets really good on the beach,” he said.

Another option is mahi. Usually their numbers are not too big this time of year, but it’s when they begin to trickle into the area. And on some days, they can play a big role in making the day a memorable one for a boatload of anglers.

Wahoo, whose numbers drop heavily throughout winter, also come on strong as the weather warms. In March, anglers like Riley, who fish multiple times a week, will usually notice an increase in wahoo bites every day of the month. Like the tunas, trolling for these fish is the key. Most anglers look for temperature breaks, trying to find the warmest water.

Adkins and the rest of the Salt Fever crew are available to fish year-round and can be reached at 910-250-3021.

About Brian Cope 2800 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@carolinasportsman.com.

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