Understanding the Mysteries of The Gulfstream….Part 2
The article below may be one of the best descriptions of the Gulfstream and its fishing you’ll ever find. It’s based on years of research as well as fishing experience by a Carolina fishing guide, author and map designer, Captain Chip Berry.
Chip is the founder of Maps Unique, one of the most well know fishing map companies in America today. He resides on the Carolina Coast and has fished their waters his entire life. While it’s somewhat long, it was impossible to tell the full story in any less words. This is must read for all fisherman and especially the offshore fisherman.
So, whenever you encounter a water regime boundary you are likely to find temperature breaks, water clarity change, thermoclines and the presence of Sargasso weed lines. The longer these conditions are present, the better the fishing. When boundaries are present in the general vicinity for 2 to 4 days, this gives the opportunity for bait (flying fish, squid, and weed lines) to congregate. Even in the hot summer days, a 1-2 degree temperature change can be significant. Gamefish are fast swimmers and hunt these boundaries often traveling 30 miles a day hunting food along these boundaries and pockets. Boundaries come and go as do weed lines form and others dissipate. It is certainly a dynamic environment and gamefish are well adapted to traveling in this rapid changing environment. Some edges are very well defined over short distances while other boundaries, mostly comprised of mixed blue water, may take a few miles to transition from one distinct water mass to another. I do like mixed blue water areas too, especially when trolling and are constantly hitting pockets of deep cobalt blue water streaks and pockets within less blue and dirtier looking water. Often, your trolling wake will let you know. Weed lines are also extremely important. They are complete habitats in its own right providing food, cover, and the general location of water mass intersections. Mahi always seem to find a good weed line!!
There are two interesting features along the east coast that does indeed influence the main core of the stream direction that deserve discussion. The 1st feature is Southeast of Charleston in deep water off the 100 fathom shelf break. It is a huge east to west oriented ridge referred to as the “Charleston Bump”. It is a series of coral seamounts towering hundreds of feet off the bottom. The Bump is easily seen and named on the Maps Unique “Charleston” map. This feature tends to deflect the stream, at times but not always, to the east before meandering back northwestward to come back along the 100 fathom break near or just north of Cape Fear. Sometimes the momentum in the stream will push its way over the Bump and cover the area of the Georgetown Hole, The Winyah Scarp, and the Swansboro Hole with incredible spectacular fishing. Researchers that have studied “The Bump” suggest that the nutrient rich upwelling that occurs there plays a significant role in the life history of many species including the Blue Marlin and the Gag Grouper. It creates a counter clockwise gyre mixing Gulf water with nutrient rich water. The 2nd feature influencing the Gulfstream occurs north of Hatteras up in Canyon Country, where the colder Labrador Current coming down from the north pushes the current eastward and eventually towards Western Europe. However, it is fairly common in the summer months for the Gulfstream to push well further northward of Hatteras before making that easterly turn. Often, these conditions will kick off large eddies off to each side of the currents axis as the Gulfstream begins to split into several distinct currents. Anglers fishing the Baltimore, Poorman’s, Norfolk, etc. canyon country can expect spectacular blue water fishing compliments of the Gulfstream.
So, bottom line is: 1) know your water, 2) Know your prime bottom habitat that lies under these regions, and 3) Hunt and Hunt. Remember that fish are hunting the exact same habitat that you are looking to find!!
One of God’s greatest blessings was giving us the gift of the Gulfstream and its associated life forms off the southeastern US. Enjoy the ride!!!.