The lack of yellowfin tuna in the canyons right now wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the mysterious lack of albacore in those waters. We’ve come to depend on an albacore run from late-summer well into the fall. At times they’ve been so abundant as to be a problem for those seeking yellowfins.
A few decades ago, while chartering out of Manasquan Inlet with my old Aquasport 28 center console Sheri Berri II, we had good chunking and jigging for bluefin and yellowfin tuna at the Texas Tower — where it was only a few more miles to get out to Hudson Canyon. The couple of times my party decided to take advantage of calm weather to make that extra run it didn’t take long before the trolling rods were bending and we had all the 30-to-40-pound albacore they could handle before an early return home.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen every year — and I haven’t heard of any longfins so far. That’s a particularly big problem this fall because yellowfins have been very scarce lately.
Albacore are the most oceanic of our tunas as they rarely move inshore of the canyons. I remember once many years ago with the late Capt. Bob Pisano trolling albacore in the Texas Tower area, and I once caught a few while giant tuna fishing within sight of Montauk Lighthouse. Even more unusual was the 1985 chunking on the west bank of Butterfish Hole when an abundance of big sand eels drew in a mixture of bluefins, yellowfins and albacore to that area only about 20 miles offshore of Montauk. You never knew what would hit a chunk dropped into the slick — and some boaters even caught white marlin and large dolphin. My personal record 60-pound albacore was hooked there on Aug. 12, 1985 just before returning to N.J. for the birth of my youngest daughter and future mate, Cyndi.
Party boat skippers love albacore because they’re more oriented to biting in the daytime and are a lot less fussy about baits and leaders than their cousins. They also prefer cooler waters and will stick around into November when abundant. Capt. Chris Di Stefano checked with some longliner friends who told him there was no sign of albacore so far — and that the yellowfins have been on the other side of the Gulf Steam off North Carolina .
The north wind created tough surfcasting conditions early this morning, but I got lucky on one cast into the white water with a Chug Bug at Spring Lake and released a 25 1/2-inch striper. Jim Lauro of Spring Lake then added another, and missed one down the beach — but that was it as the wind increased. Vinny D’Anton said he caught a small bass at Manasquan before it got too bad. I finished up at Point Pleasant Canal and released a 3-pound bluefish on a Z Man 6-inch Swimmereez just as the tide started out. Only one other fish was lost after that during a short attempt.
Capt. Dave De Gennaro will be running his Hi Flier from Barnegat open Sunday and Monday. He’ll be chumming with live grass shrimp in the bay for weakfish that vary in size from day to day from 12 to 19 inches. Very light spinning tackle is used with a tiny jig tipped with shrimp for steady action with a variety of species. Call 732 681-6144 for info.
Capt. Stan Zagleski reported good catch-and-release blackfishing from his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands on Thursday. Everyone got their one keeper from many tog up to 6 pounds. There were also some blowfish, and lots of sea bass were released before Monday’s opening of that season when Stan will be sailing daily at 7 a.m. Other bottom fishing boats will be switching over that day, but some are taking reservations for extended hours trips. There will be one more catch-and-release tog trip aboard Elaine B. II on Sunday.
Most boats probably stayed in today due to the north wind and rough seas. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported good bluefish jigging Thursday for 3-8-pound choppers. Light winds are forecast for the weekend, and conditions should be very good. The Golden Eagle also has some openings on the Oct. 14 24-hour canyon trip. Call 732 681-6144 for reservations.
There was some better news from the Queen Mary out of Point Pleasant as their tuna trip produced yellowfins plus dolphin up to 20 pounds.
Capt. Vinnie Vetere said striper fishing has been tougher on his Katfish out of Great Kills, but they’re still catching them.