The Big Jamaica from Brielle is running a series of limited “Bonito Albacore Bluefin” trips on Sept. 12,13, 16 and 23. They’ll be fishing 20 miles or more offshore to target those species rather than inshore bluefish. The only problem is that I can almost guarantee that you won’t catch an albacore.
Albacore are high seas tuna found throughout much of the world in tropical and temperate seas. They very rarely enter continental shelf waters such as the Jamaica will be fishing. What you will catch is the little tunny, a completely different tuna than the albacore. To add to the confusion, the little tunny is balled bonito in the south, but little tunny is the only common name accepted by the American Fisheries Society and the IGFA.
When I was growing up on Long Island, I became familiar with a great fighting fish that everyone called false albacore. That was probably because fishermen at that time had never seen an albacore — which was thought to be a Pacific species. It wasn’t until canyon sportfishing started here that anglers realized there’s little resemblance between albacore and false albacore. The former has no markings on its dark blue above and white below body plus unmistakable long pectoral fins stretching almost to the tail They are frequently referred to as longfins. There’s also a world of difference in food quality as the albacore has white meat that’s excellent for canning, while the little tunny has course and bloody meat which requires some work to make it palatable for most fish eaters.
While even yellowfin tuna may move in as close as Manasquan Ridge on rare occasions off the NJ coast, I never hear of stray albacore inshore. Ironically, my personal record of 60 pounds was caught off Montauk Point at this time of year in 1985 as an abundance of large sand eels attracted a mix of bluefins, yellowfins and albacore to the west wall of Butterfish Hole in 120 feet not far offshore.
Unfortunately, over the years the “false” has been dropped by most anglers who simply refer to little tunny as albacore. That’s even extended to a business advertising a trip for a species they are not even going to try to catch.
The Jamaica had good results jigging bonito and little tunny during Sunday’s trip, and lost one bluefin at the boat. Those trips are limited to 30 fares at a cost of $85. There’s also a 31-hour canyon trip set for Sept. 28 — plus 22-hour canyon runs on Sept. 13 and 14. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.
Capt. Ron Santee reported a big turnaround in fluking after two tough days on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. It was mostly shorts at first before fluke of 6.5 and 5.5 pounds were boated. Then the larger fluke kept coming as Mike lee ended up with the pool at 6.10 pounds.
The Big Mohawk from Belmar managed some fluke limits today despite a lack of drift on too nice a day. The pool winner was 7.6 pounds. They sail at 6:30 a.m.
The forecast is fine for the morning with south winds at 10-15 knots, but that increases to 15-20 with gusts to 25 in the afternoon as small craft advisories are posted through midnight.
Vinny D’Anton returned to the Monmouth County surf this morning and used his Chug Bug to release a 24 1/2-inch striper and also a smaller one by casting into white waters in a rough, but fishable surf while I couldn’t raise a thing. Jim Gates reported nothing in the Bay Head surf, and only a very few small blues were hooked in Point Pleasant Canal. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said he had a big bass or blue on at dawn Monday that he couldn’t move, and then broke off as he applied too much pressure as a boat was passing by and the 20-pound leader snapped.
The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported another good day of bluefishing with jigs today along with some porgies and fluke. Little tunny and bonito were spotted. They’ve added a Saturday night bluefish trip from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Only a few spots are open on the Sept. 30, 31-hour canyon trip.
Prospects for canyon trips have improved greatly as yellowfins have finally turned on for the night chunking as well as daytime trolling. The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant reports that just before the storm, Capt. Deane Lambros put his party into 18 large yellowfins ( see photo below) plus five white marlin trolling and didn’t even bother staying out overnight. Since then they’ve been into a good yellowfin night bite. Adam La Rosa says it’s like the night chinking used to be in September — and there’s also a good shot at a swordfish. A few charter and open boat spots remain. Call 732 272-4445 for reservations.