Northeast Offshore Report – September 15, 2023

Above: Jerry Sullivan with a yellowfin that fell for a chunk of butterfish at the Triple Wrecks off New Jersey. 

Hurricane Lee is scuttling this weekend’s tuna dreams, but up to Thursday, boats from New Jersey to Massachusetts continued to enjoy world-class yellowfin tuna fishing on the midshore grounds. In New England, fishermen found yellowfin at the Dump feeding on tiny hake, but willing to strike poppers and stickbaits. At some closer spots like the Suffolk, Tuna Ridge, and Ryan’s Horn, yellowfin were taking poppers, jigs, and chunked butterfish. Anglers trolling also caught fish, including a beautiful wahoo.
Offshore Migration Map 9-15-23

Off New Jersey, the Triple Wrecks have been the yellowfin hotspot, with a side of skipjacks making a nuisance of themselves to anglers dropping jigs. Chunks worked best most days, but jigs and poppers continued to take fish as well. Further offshore, the Hudson and other canyons in reach of Jersey inlets produced yellowfin and bigeye.

The New England canyons are also stacked with yellowfin, but the fish are feeding on krill among pods of whales, making them tricky to tempt with trolling and even chunking.

Many headboats have begun running their fall tuna trips, and the reports so far have been good, with boats returning to port with good numbers of yellowfin. There have been a couple longfin albacore reported, but so far, it’s been a lean season for these tuna. Perhaps we’ll see more of them as we get deeper into the fall.

Swordfishing too, which was picking up nicely for overnight canyon fishermen, should improve as we approach October.

Besides a few recreational-size bluefin picked up on the troll or on livebait, it’s been mostly giants from Chatham north. This storm could provide the shake-up needed to bring in some more bait and some more fun-size bluefin to Cape Cod and north.

The effects of Hurricane Lee should be fading by the middle of next week, and captains will go out to reconstruct the offshore puzzle. This could be the end of the spectacular midshore yellowfin run in southern New England, but the beginning of a lights-out fall canyon season. The bluefin fishing east and north of Cape Cod can only improve for recreational-size fish, and the giant tuna bite should continue uninterrupted in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

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