Mid-range school tuna fishing today was more a matter of avoiding sharks than of finding bluefins willing to bite.

It was a beautiful day at sea after a 90-mile run offshore with Capt. Derik Bielitz and mate Jimmy on his 31 Contender Fisher Price from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. It turned out to be a day of negative firsts in my northern fishing career as I watched big sharks strike poppers and witnessed carnage by them on hooked tuna that I only previously saw in tropical areas.

Shortly after first light we saw lots of dolphins jumping along with a good showing of big whales. At our first stop, Lou Grazioso jigged an under bluefin, and I lost one after a few secnds, while Chuck Many had a blast on his popper that turned out to be a big dusky or brown shark after a tough fight on spinning tackle. Many kept raising sharks to the popper and broke off another before we went on the troll.

It took some trolling through breezing schools of bluefins before five rods went off. Yet, only one under was boated out of all that as the other tuna plus the sidetracker spreader bars were lost to sharks. After getting everything replaced there was a blast of four tuna with only one boated as sharks decimated the lures. We then switched to casting again, and Chuck managed to hook a bluefin of about 40 inches that was released since we had the charter boat limit of three under bluefins. Chuck also hooked a much bigger tuna that got cut off, and Lou lost his popper to a huge hammerhead shark after a short battle.

The sea basssumason opened today, and the Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a boat limit of them at two per angler at a 12 1/2-inch minimum. They started chasing small blues which were skittish. The variety included the first mention of Spanish mackerel as well as bonito, chub mackerel, ling and fluke.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported slow bluefishing, but added sea bass, ling and chub mackerel.

The calm weather is predicted to continue tomorrow with northwest winds at 5 knots switching to southwest in the afternoon.

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