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Offshore Report

Report from Friday, July 31.

| Sandy Hook | Shark River Inlet | Manasquan Inlet | Barnegat Inlet | Beach Haven Inlet | Absecon Inlet | Great Egg Harbor Inlet | Cape May Inlet | Last Week's Report |
Sandy Hook
Wayne O’Neil from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands fished at the 100 Square at Hudson Canyon last Friday on the Old Gray Mare, he said. Five longfin tuna, three skipjacks and five mahi mahi were decked. Four of the longfins were trolled during daytime on cedar plugs, and other longfins were lost on the troll, and dusk fished best during the trolling. The other longfin bagged was chunked just before dawn. More would’ve been hooked at night, Wayne thought, but the other anglers slept. Wayne saw three bigeye tuna chunked at night on the boat nearest them, the reason he thought that. Bob, Robert and Daniel Whitehead and Rich Mikutsky were the rest of the anglers on the trip. Twin Lights, located on Shrewsbury River near Raritan Bay and the ocean, with no bridges before them, includes a marina with boat slips, dry storage, a fuel dock, and a combined bait and tackle shop and ship’s store. Baits stocked include the full offshore selection. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card.

Shark River Inlet
The year’s first tuna trip is slated for August 7 or 8 on the Katie H from Belmar, Capt. Mike said. That will be a day-trolling trip, not an overnighter, at the canyons. A friend fished Lindenkohl Canyon, overnighting both Friday and Saturday. But the angling was no good, and lots of boats filled the water. Only mixed reports, up and down, spotty, were heard about bluefin tuna, closer to shore. But that could change, and that first tuna trip on the Katie H will fish for the bluefins, along with canyon tuna fishing, if the bluefins are possible to catch.

Capt. Scott from XTC Sportfishing from Belmar had been away, but is back now, he said. A trip aboard is supposed to sail for bluefin tuna Sunday at the Texas Tower and the Bacardi wreck.

Manasquan Inlet
Tuna fishing seemed to produce at the 100 Square at Hudson Canyon, Eric from The Reel Seat in Brielle said Sunday. Yellowfin, bigeye and longfin tuna were trolled. But sometimes tuna were chunked and jigged at night at the canyon. “So that’s starting,” he said. Mahi mahi catches were pretty darn good, he said, from Chicken Canyon all the way to the offshore canyons. Definitely keep some small lures in the trolling spread, he said. Chumming for mahi at lobster pots also caught. Bluefin tuna 60 to 80 pounds were boated at the Texas Tower and the Bacardi wreck, mostly on the troll. But a couple of trips were heard about that jigged the fish when bait was found balled up. Closer to shore, bluefins were picked away at the Atlantic Princess wreck and the Chicken Canyon, not great, but some caught. Those bluefins ranged from 20 pounds to 40 or 50, and trips needed to fish for them at first light or dusk, really. Black and purple seemed hot colors. But Green Machine spreader bars and daisy chains connected.

A longbill spearfish was trolled and released at Hudson Canyon last Friday with Mushin Sportfishing from Point Pleasant Beach, Capt. Ray wrote in an email. The infrequent catch was the angler’s first billfish. “(Now the angler) will be on the billfish slam tour, with a challenging one out of the way,” Ray said. The spearfish looked like a white marlin, when it swam into the spread. It swiped a ballyhoo with an Ilander skirt in the prop wash. The trip arrived at 4:20 a.m. at the Hudson, along the East Wall. A bigeye tuna, “the right bite,” Ray said, was hooked within 10 minutes. The fish was fought more than an hour, wreaking havoc on the crew! But then the bigeye got off, and the crew saw the hook pop out. A few mahi mahi were trolled aboard that morning. The spearfish bit at 1 p.m. That was a day-troll, and an overnight, open-boat trip arrived at the Hudson Saturday evening aboard, at the spot where the bigeye tuna bit Friday. Another bigeye was hooked, this one within 5 minutes, and the 220-pounder was landed in an hour. Chunking at night was slow, except a few mahi were caught. In the morning, trolling went 3 for 5 on longfin tuna, on a decent bite. Mahi really snapped on the troll then, and 30 of the fish to 15 pounds were subdued. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing offshore.

Barnegat Inlet
From an edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier from Barnegat, about the season’s first trip farther from shore aboard: “I had a full open-boat trip to Barnegat Ridge on Saturday with John Mazzone from Wayne, Lenny Araneo from Barnegat and Chris Sakoutis from Staten Island. We threw the ropes at 5 a.m., and throttled up for Barnegat Ridge North. When we arrived, the water was ugly green, so I didn’t even put the lines out. We ran another 17 miles east to the Resor wreck, which also had poor-quality water, no birds, no life – so we just kept trekking east. A few miles shy of the Atlantic Princess, we saw the water turn one shade better, not great, but better. I started putting out the seven-rod spread one at a time, and in that short time, the water turned blue. Like blue-blue! That alone raised morale, and my adrenaline was through the roof. At least we were fishing now. Even if we don’t catch, we’re in the right water, dragging the right stuff. There were three scallop draggers working the area, chick birds hitting the water here and there, a few good readings, a sea turtle. A guy on the radio had just boated a good-sized bluefin, and in an effort to help his buddy find him, he referenced the same scallop boats we were working! Things were looking good. Except, no hits. We worked the area for a few hours, without a touch. As we circled around, Lenny caught a glimpse of some surface action off the bow. We took a swing-by to what looked like small skippies or boohoo mackerel, splashing and feeding. Just as the last lure passed the commotion, the 50W International in my T-top holder was screaming line out. I only had two rods up there, a way-back ballyhoo, and a rainbow spreader bar. From the sound of the runoff, I was sure a big bluefin had just inhaled the ballyhoo. But when I went to grab the rod out of the tree, it was the spreader bar that was on. Whatever, we’ll take it. John grabbed the rod from me, and went to work on this fish, for 25 minutes. As the fish got near, I warned him about getting the rod out of the gimbal belt, as the fish will be deep and spiraling, under the boat. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I saw the rainbow spreader bar streaking from one side of the boat to the other ... on the surface! Now I’m thinking I’ve got to gaff this ‘green’ tuna while he streaks by the boat, except, as he gets close enough, it’s not a tuna. It’s a wahoo! And not just any wahoo – it’s massive. Lenny leaders him, and I stick this 6-foot beast with a headshot. Lenny added gaff No. 2, and after a briefing with my crew, about how dangerous this fish is to have onboard, a 93-pound wahoo hit the deck. One hit, one fish, turned our whole trip around. Here’s a few minutes of video as we land him that Chris shot on her IPAD. Sorry about the language and lack of composure, but I really wasn’t expecting a wahoo!” The wahoo was hooked on a Canyon Runner rainbow spreader bar and weighed-in at Long Key Marina in Waretown. “I like to give credit where it’s due,” he said. The trip departed from Bob’s Bay Marina in Barnegat.

Beach Haven Inlet
Bluefin tuna fishing is booked to fish Monday on the June Bug from Beach Haven, Capt. Lindsay said. Bigeye tuna were trolled at the canyons.

Absecon Inlet
One of the crew from the shop and another angler boated five bigeye tuna and two yellowfin tuna Tuesday, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. Live spots are finally stocked from Maryland. Most are tuna-fishing sized, and a few are good-sized for summer flounder fishing.

Great Egg Harbor Inlet
The bottom fell out this weekend, said Capt. Mike from the Stray Cat from Longport. The water turned over, and boat traffic was heavy. Previously, inshore trolling beat bluefish, bonito, false albacore and mahi mahi aboard. A mahi was hooked but got off 9 ½ miles from shore on the boat then. “You can go from hero to zero (quickly),” he said. A $500 discount is no longer available on overnight tuna trips. “They had their chance!” he said.

Collin from 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Egg Harbor Township joined a tuna trip that fished 19-Fathom Lump and the Cigar on Tuesday, he said. But the fishing was dead, though the water looked beautiful, and everything seemed “correct.” Yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna had been bagged at places like the 19 Lump previously this season. All offshore baits are carried. The company also own 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Marmora.

Cape May Inlet
Tuna fishing was dead last Friday on the Heavy Hitter from Cape May, Capt. George said. The trip chunked until 9:30 a.m., and only bluefish, a bunch, bit. Then the trip trolled, and a couple of mahi mahi were caught, and a couple were missed. Seventeen yellowfin tuna were chunked aboard last week on Monday, covered in the previous report here. Boat traffic was heavy last Friday on the trip. Trips on the boat had been fishing for the yellowfins between 20 and 30 fathoms, and anglers now were telephoning to go. But George would wait to see if the fishing turned back on, before going again. A few boats caught the yellowfins that Friday, but most didn’t. George spoke with anglers who sailed for the tuna Saturday, and bluefish even disappeared, they said. Bigeye tuna were decked at Lindenkohl Canyon around that time, according to second-hand reports. George knew anglers who fished Baltimore and Wilmington canyons around last weekend. Any tuna caught there came from the Wilmington. Some white marlin were taken at the Baltimore then.

Last Week's Report
Shark River Inlet

A mako shark was bagged and another was released Monday on the Katie H from Belmar, Capt. Mike said. He knew the water was warm for mako fishing, before the trip, and the anglers wanted to catch just any shark. They ended up with makos. Still, the water was warm for big makos. Small makos seemed still around. The trip fished at the Mudhole in 74-degree, clear, good-looking water. The season’s first tuna trip is slated for August 8, Mike thought. That will be a day-trolling trip, not an overnighter, at the canyons. If bluefin tuna are around, the trip will fish for them mid-range, on the way to or from offshore. Offshore tuna fishing sounded fair. Mike didn’t want to speculate about details, and would wait until he reached the waters himself. On the shark trip, anglers were heard on the radio who fished for bluefins from the Bacardi wreck to Chicken Canyon’s northern end. They didn’t see much life, and one reported catching a mahi mahi and a white marlin. None talked about finding bluefins. Bluefin fishing didn’t seem great yet.

Manasquan Inlet

Bluefin tuna fishing was kind of up and down, or scattered pods swam, said Eric from The Reel Seat in Brielle. But if a trip could find the fish and stay on them, good angling could be scored, up to eight or nine of the tuna landed. Some were good-sized, up 70 inches, or well over 100 pounds. From just north of Chicken Canyon to the Texas Tower seemed a hot spot. The tuna were a little farther offshore than sometimes. Lots of mahi mahi hugged lobster pot buoys in the area. Bigeye tuna seemed to hold everywhere from Toms Canyon to Washington Canyon, down the line. But Lindenkohl Canyon seemed the epicenter. Late evening produced. Some pods of yellowfin tuna roamed the canyons. They weren’t everywhere or were scattered, like the bluefins. Trips caught the yellowfins if they ran across the fish. A fair number of longfin tuna began to be found. Wahoos caught just began to be reported. Cod fishing went well from the Oil Wreck to the Triple Wrecks. Tuna anglers might want to bring clams to fish for cod, if tuna fishing ends up slow.

An overnight trip sailed to the canyons with Mushin Sportfishing from Point Pleasant Beach, Capt. Alan wrote in an email Sunday. On the way to the Continental Shelf, bluefin tuna were found busting on bait at two places offshore of the Chicken Canyon, where the ocean was clean. The trip quickly trolled among the fish, connecting with four of the bluefins about 46 inches apiece. Two that size, a limit of unders, were bagged. The trip continued to the offshore canyons, and great signs for bigeye tuna were seen: 78- to 80-degree water and lots of pilot whales and bait. A 200-pound bigeye was bagged. At night, a swordfish was lost, and a half-dozen mahi mahi were iced. Up on the troll in the morning, a 35-pound mahi and a 25-pound wahoo were landed, and a mystery bite got off, an interesting combo, he wrote. After more trolling, a bigeye tuna, large, was hooked on a daisy chain and lost. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing the canyons, including an overnighter Saturday to Sunday, and space was available on the outing.

Barnegat Inlet

From an edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier from Barnegat: “I haven’t had much to offer lately in the way of reports. The boat has been laid up for repairs since Monday, but I just got the phone call … she’s ready! And so am I. I haven’t been to Barnegat Ridge yet this season, and now we’re going. The forecast is light and variable from the east. That’s perfection for offshore. Pushes the clean water in, gives a little surface ripple to make the lures skip better, and then we have it on our tail for the ride home. Targeting bonita, but always hopeful for more. The ridge is full of surprises this time of year. Could be bluefin tuna, mahi, albacore, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and sometimes none of the above. We’re going to give it hell and make a report. I’ve got a good feeling about this one. Running open-boat to Barnegat Ridge 5:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Three people max. All fish are shared. Monday’s weather is looking good, too. I’ll see how we do Saturday.”

A few mahi mahi actually swam inshore, said Kevin from Bobbie’s Boat Rentals in Barnegat Light, and he saw one, small, when fluking the ocean. Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and boat and kayak rentals. The store is known for bait supply, including live baits in season.

Great Egg Harbor Inlet

The Stray Cat from Longport fished Wilmington Canyon on a day-trolling trip Sunday, Capt. Mike said. Was a fantastic day, he said, and a white marlin was fought a while and got off. Mahi mahi, skipjacks and small yellowfin tuna were reeled in. The boat chased a blue marlin that porpoised ahead, but could never get in front of the fish. At first on the trip, 87-degree water was located. The trip got away from that hot water, and fished 82- to 83-degree water at the bight. All kinds of temperature breaks were around, in the low 80 degrees. A big weed line formed just outside the west wall. The trip left the fishing grounds before bigeye tuna could be targeted in the evening. Mike looks forward to another one of the trips next week, and if anyone’s interested in making a trip like this, come on, he said. The boat is also fishing closer to shore, on half-day, 5-hour trips, loading up on blues, a few bonito and sometimes a mahi mahi. Four mahi heavier than 10 pounds apiece were bagged so far. A mahi isn’t landed on every trip, but at least one strong pull is happening on each. The ocean was 84 to 86 degrees on those grounds, and looked gorgeous. Flying fish were seen all over, and needlefish held in the water. No cobia were seen in a week, but surely cobia were there. The bluefish were dragged from bottom, over hills, on lures like feathers and Clark spoons on heavy trolling weights 6 and 8 ounces. The bonito hit on the turn. “They like the zigzag,” he said. Little tunny swam the water, and the boat would need to be trolled a little faster for them.

Townsend’s Inlet

The two anglers aboard Tuesday wanted to try something different, and the trip inshore-trolled, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service from Sea Isle City. Bluefish, false albacore and a 12-pound mahi mahi were tackled. Then the trip bottom-fished, cranking up a 6-pound triggerfish, a monster. Throwback fluke were let go. Farther from shore, small yellowfin tuna were drilled in 20 to 30 fathoms, at places like 19-Fathom Lump, Joe knew. That was a chunk bite, and Jersey Cape fishes for them. A family aboard Monday whaled 12 to 15 sharks – browns, spinners and duskies – including at least five that weighed 100 pounds. That was one of the inshore shark trips that release the fish, an opportunity to fight a big catch without a long trek offshore. Some of the sharks are required to be let go.

An angler from Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters from Avalon’s campground was interested in fishing for bluefin tuna aboard, saying he heard about the tuna caught, Jim said Sunday in a phone call. Any bluefins then seemed to be located at places like the Hot Dog, but not closer, like at the East Lump, where Fins and Feathers sails for pelagics like that or mahi mahi and wahoos. An angler sent a photo to Jim of a 30- or 40-pound mahi, one of two mahi the angler’s trip landed at the Hot Dog. The trip also broke off a big fish that seemed a bluefin. That was sometime before Sunday, when Jim gave this report.

Cape May Inlet

Seventeen yellowfin tuna were bagged, and at least 25 throwbacks were released, between 20 and 30 fathoms Monday on the Heavy Hitter from Cape May, Capt. George said. Skipjacks were also landed, and the anglers kept a few. George told them skipjacks were good-eating, and most canned tuna is skipjack. The yellowfins were on a chunk bite, and George knows an angler who caught them well the next two days, Tuesday and Wednesday. If anglers are interested, they better sail now for them. They could be here today and gone tomorrow. The Heavy Hitter was supposed to sail for them yesterday.

Yellowfin tuna fishing was good inside of 40 miles from shore, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle in Cape May. Chunking sardines caught them best, and some were trolled. Tinker mackerel schooled the water. The population and size of mahi mahi was good this year, and mahi swam as close to shore as 5-Fathom Bank Light.