Northeast Offshore Report – September 8, 2023

Offshore Migration Map  9/8/2023

Earlier this summer we were waxing nostalgic about last year’s late-summer and fall incredible yellowfin tuna bite, hoping that we’d see similar action…and it’s here. From south of Martha’s Vineyard to New Jersey, the yellowfin fishing on the midshore structures is just about as good as it gets. And best of all, it’s the light tackle tactics that are bringing home the sushi.

While the bluefin/yellowfin mixed bag on the midshore grounds south of Martha’s Vineyard on had favored the bluefin for most of the summer, over the last week, that ratio seems to have shifted dramatically toward more yellowfin. An influx of juvenile hake has brought yellowfin to the surface at The Dump, and fishermen like Kevin Gould, Captain Rob Lowell and Alex Ridgway of Cape Cod Offshore have been catching them on poppers this week.

OTW’s Chris Megan with a nice yellowfin from this week.

Fishermen working Tuna Ridge, the Suffolk, and Ryan’s Horn found plenty of fish, but they were maddeningly picky. Some fishermen were able to call up some yellowfin on poppers and some bluefin on the jig, but many left frustrated by the finicky tuna they were marking. The ticket, it seems, was butterfish chunks.

Boats doling out chunks of butters soon found the fish feeding below them.  The yellowfin, along with some bluefin fell to chunks with hooks hidden in them, but scaling down the leader was sometimes necessary to get the bites.

Out of New Jersey, boats are reporting yellowfin madness as well, with jigs and poppers doing the damage. Hitting the grounds with a well full of live peanuts or some butterfish flats has been helping there as well.

In the canyons, we’re hitting that part of the season when you almost want to nap during the daytime troll so you can be up all night for the active chunking and swordfishing. Brian Weiss reported a good night in FishTails recently, with six swordfish bites, a tiger shark, and some tuna.

Bigeye continue to bite in the canyons, and it’s been a good year for Thunnus obesus. They’ll surely be throwing their weight around in the chum and chunk slicks this fall, as more boats head out to the grounds with boxes of bait.

Mahi are everywhere on the floating structure on the midshore grounds and in the canyons. We were out South of the Vineyard on Thursday, and found weedmats and buoys occupied by hundreds of mahi each. In some cases, the mahi were uncharacteristically picky, indicating another boat had just been there, or that a predator was nearby. It was the latter for us at one buoy, as we saw a white marlin rip through a school of chicken mahi.

Either way, even pressured mahi can be tempted with some chunks or squid, so there’s another reason to load up on bait before heading offshore.

White marlin have made a strong showing on the midshore grounds south of Cape Cod, and experienced billfish crews have put up some wild numbers this week. Fishermen running to or from the tuna grounds would be wise to keep an eye out for “skillies” and have a live bait or weightless soft-plastic stickbait ready to pitch at the fish.

Giant tuna fishing was on fire this week. Fishermen swimming bluefish in Cape Cod Bay and off Stellwagen caught fish to 800 pounds. At the current pace, the quota is likely to fill soon. Recreational tuna north of Cape Cod remain elusive.

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