Northeast Offshore Fishing Report- September 1, 2023

Staying true to the theme of last week’s report, weather windows remained tight this week as Hurricane Idalia fizzled out on her way up the coast. Now we’re experiencing the swell from Hurricane Franklin, which, combined with strong tides on the backside of August’s super blue moon, is churning up the seas of the northeast. Mahi remain a welcome consolation prize for anglers getting out when the wind has laid down, and with several other storm systems brewing out there (and likely resulting in more floating debris), mahi should stay on the menu. With tournament season in the rear view for Mid-Atlantic tuna and billfish fanatics, the stakes have lowered on the finance front, but those looming storm systems could make long trips to the canyons a bit risky.

Chris Landry with a hefty yellowfin from a recent trip to the canyons with Rockfish Charters.

As of today, between Baltimore Canyon and Cape Charles, NOAA forecasts 6- to 13-foot seas, which, by Saturday, should lay down slightly to about 4 to 8 foot swells. In the canyons off the coast of Maryland, white and blue marlin are the main attraction this week with a side of yellowfin and bigeye. White marlin are being caught on the troll over Washington Canyon while anglers attempting to chunk are met with nothing but sharks. Those anglers who have been able to get out, but were heading home empty handed, are picking off some healthy mahi from lobster pots on the way in. Captain Monty Hawkins of Morning Star Fishing even turned a slow sea bass trip into chicken mahi madness, boating a limit for the group in a few hours of fishing.
Meanwhile, off of New Jersey, bluefin tuna continue to gorge on live squid around Dog Lump while yellowfin remain scattered, according to Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman. He added that those who are finding yellowfin will likely have the most success on jigs.


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Matt Ruggieri at The Reel Seat also noted that yellows within 60 miles from shore have been dialed in on metal when boats have been able to get out. Ruggieri shared that there are some large mahi around, which was reinforced by Kyle Tangen at Fishermen’s Supply, who said that the big ones are hanging around Monster Ledge and Mud Hole. Rick Hebert at Tackle Direct also mentioned that it’s worth trolling over the mid-shore lumps on the way to the canyons for mahi and yellowfin, as some large wahoo were caught over the past week.

Just north, Captain Adrian Moeller of Rockfish Charters in Queens, NY, has been riding long distances through high seas in search of life around the Canyons. Earlier this week, they headed out about 75 miles and went 2 for 4 jigging yellowfin and lost a jumbo boat side. Then, on Monday, they headed back to the same area in sloppy conditions and had the tuna all to themselves, boating 2 out of 5 on jigs again.


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In Hampton Bays, Jeff Lomonaco at White Water Outfitters reported that there haven’t been many boats getting out with the wind and the storm swell, but on the few days they have, the mid-shore bluefin bite has been good with a larger class of fish from mediums to giants. It’s been mostly bait fishing and jigging producing bites, with a majority of the catch being coming on live squid and mackerel. Draggers open today for squid, which is good news because the fish will follow them after a few days and it creates a great chunk bite. The inshore yellowfin bite has been hot on jigs, with some poppers doing damage around dolphin schools, especially early in the morning. Jeff also said canyon fishing should remain good through the storm and anticipates albies arriving inshore in the next few days.

To the east, the local bluefin bite was holding up well prior to high winds and storm swells, with plenty of recreational-class fish mixed in with commercial-size fish. Mark Fischer of Stella Outfitters in Montauk reported nonstop bluefin tuna action late last week, keeping a 54-inch bluefin and releasing multiple over 73 inches in the hours that followed. With the commercial bluefin season reopening this weekend, those larger specimens will be fair game to license holders.


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It would appear that the further south you run, the more yellowfin there are. TailWrapped Sportfishing in Montauk got themselves a pair (and a half) of yellowfin on Wednesday on account of the tax man making rounds.

According to Captain Connor MacLeod of Tall Tailz Charters in Rhode Island, points south of Block continue to hold both bluefin and yellowfin for now. He reported that jigging is the most productive, but trolling squid bars has produced a few good knock downs at first light when the fish aren’t visibly feeding on the surface. That being said, poppers raised a few fish in calmer conditions prior to the storm swell. The skipper also mentioned some jumbo albies are in the mix out there, which is good news for the inshore crowd that was patiently awaiting their arrival to Rhode Island waters until earlier this week.

And while things have quieted down a bit south of Block on account of high winds and seas, there are more signs of life east of Chatham this week. Whispers of bluefin around Crab Ledge have anglers hopeful for calmer conditions, while others are praying on Sunday’s forecasted southwest winds to tuck away in Cape Cod Bay and chase giants around the southwest and southeast corners of Stellwagen Bank.

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