This will be our last Northeast Offshore report of the season, but the offshore season is far from over.
When the dust settled from last weekend’s wind, boats set out to once again find where the bluefin and yellowfin had settled in. The Suffolk/Tuna Ridge/Dump area quieted down from what was a lights-out first week of October. If that’s all-she-wrote for the tuna bite in that area, there’s nothing we can do but toast to an incredible season. From late June to early October, bluefin and yellowfin ate jigs, chunks, trolled lures, and poppers. It was an unforgettable tuna season for boats running from Connecticut, Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts.
East of Cape Cod, we can’t say the same. Things got off to a ridiculous start in June. Tuna feeds the size of a football field created crazy topwater action. But from there, it just kind of fizzled. A few false starts with some jig bites and topwater feeds failed to develop into anything consistent. Even the “always” reliable October topwater action failed to materialize. But there’s still time. The water is warm, there’s fish up north – hell, there’s still albies up north – so a group of tuna could still pile into the Regal Sword, Crab Ledge, BB Buoy, etc.
The giant bluefin quota filled up by Monday, so there’s been little talk on that this week.
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It’s a different story off New Jersey, where boats that went back on the hunt found great numbers of yellowfin and bluefin by chunking over the midshore wrecks. A number of boats headed to Wilmington Canyon after seeing some promising water temps there, but the fishing was a pick at best. Many, like my good friend Jerry Sullivan, fell back on the tilefish to return home with some meat in the box. Jerry said the action on blueline tiles was great in 350 feet of water, which gave him a chance to catch them on a slow-pitch jigging setup.
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Out of New York, boats are reporting some of the best tuna fishing of the season, with good numbers of bluefin on the chunk. Setting up behind draggers has been a reliable strategy for finding the feeding fish.
For the rest of the season, look for the giants to continue biting through December. Whenever the quota is open, boats will be headed out in search of 73-inch-plus bluefin. There are almost always reliable reports of giant tuna caught on Cape Cod after Thanksgiving and off New Jersey in mid-December.
The recreational bluefin action may shift south with New York and New Jersey being the epicenter now that Rhode Island/Massachusetts is slowing down some, but there has been some incredible run-and-gun tuna action on Stellwagen into November in years past. If the bait is there, and there are some tuna north of the Cape, rest assured, they will find it before heading south.
One word I haven’t heard uttered yet among the Cape Cod tuna crowd is butterfish. Having not been out east at all this month, I don’t know if there is no bait, or just that there are no small bluefin there to eat it. With more good weather ahead, there will surely be much more to report before it’s time to hang up the tuna tackle for the winter. You’ll be able to find it in our regular weekly fishing reports.