It’s been many years since NY/NJ Bight anglers have seen yellowfin tuna fishing short of the canyons such as they’re experiencing right now. The only negative is that it’s still much further offshore than during the days when we were chunking them at such relatively nearby spots as Yellowfin Lump, but these fish seem to be more abundant and easier to hook.
Some of them are also bigger than I’d prefer them to be. Capt. Joe Massa and I joined Bob Correll on his Big A from Crystal Point Marina in Point Pleasant for a 5 a.m.Sunday run to numbers which Capt. Lou Grazioso gave us the night before. Sure enough, when we got there tuna chicks were working over swirls, and there were yellowfins and skipjacks flashing under the Sea Vee as soon as we threw some sardines in the water. Joe and Bob were hooked up right away, but as I lowered my sardine I saw a “carpet” of cownose rays under us. I got a light hit and hooked what I assumed was a ray as there was no hard run. I fought that fish just to get it up to be released, so I could get to the tuna, for about 10 minutes before seeing the color of a tuna that had been playing possum before than beating me up around the boat. Both that fish and another Bob caught at the same time needed two hands on the gaff to boat. I estimated them at 80 pounds, and after that battle felt like an 84-year-old man — which I am!
Nevertheless, I got a bait back in the water and soon hooked up another odd fish. That one made the typical sizzling run, but then felt like it was stuck in bottom. I was yanking on the rod to no avail as there was no sign of life. I figured the fish might be foul-hooked, and we ran up on the line to get a better angle on it before I could gain some line by pumping directly over what turned out to be a yellowfin with the hook in its side. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m sure I’d still be trying to gain line if we hadn’t run up to change the angle. With five large yellowfins taking up our space and ice, we left them biting at 12:08. That turned out to be a good move because the fuel pump on one engine went down on the way home. and we made the last 60 miles at 10 miles an hour. Thankfully, the beautiful day continued and the wind remained light while there were none of the predicted thunderstorms.
Grazioso was back out there Monday morning while working with Capt. David Goldman on Shore Catch, and their party had all the yellowfins they wanted by 8:30 a.m. before heading in.
I’ll catch up with the rest of that blog’s info, including inshore bluefins, in this evening’s blog.