Canyon yellowfins coming up big
Friday, August 25, 2006
Star-Ledger Staff
A hot chunking bite of mostly 30-to-40-pound yellowfin tuna broke open from Hudson to Toms canyons this week when limit catches were routine. That size tuna is ideal for the average angler to handle on stand-up tackle.

Bluefish jigging remains a best bet along the Shore, and night chumming is consistent from the Mud Buoy to the west side of the Mud Hole. There's lots of small fluke around, but keepers are more common on rough bottoms and they're also pouring out of Ambrose and Sandy Hook channels.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said the past few days have been good at the ends of the channels, and yesterday morning was even better on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as 50 keepers were caught on the first drift and over 100 for the trip. John Bulloch of Berkeley Heights boated an 8 3/4-pounder Wednesday afternoon. Also at that port, Capt. Tom Buban saw his first doormat of the season yesterday morning when Jongchul Kim from Bergen County boated a 12 3/4-pounder in Sandy Hook Channel.

Capt. Fred Grover had his best trip of the season and was back to Leonardo early yesterday with Freddy C. after a perfect day for working Ambrose Channel as all 17 anglers had limits.

Weakfishing has started in Raritan Reach and may be more consistent by Monday, when the Sea Fox begins sailing half-day trips for them from Atlantic Highlands. Ling are still being caught in great numbers from deep Mud Hole wrecks and sea bass are becoming more common on wrecks and rough bottoms closer to shore, though shorts dominate.

Crabby's Tackle in Keyport reports snapper blues have arrived in time for tomorrow's free contest from 10 a.m. to noon. Call (732) 335-9311 for information.

The Mid-Atlantic $500,000 concludes today at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May. Wednesday was perfect for off-shore fishing and may have been even better than Tuesday, when 137 white marlin and seven blue marlin were caught by 145 boats, with 90 percent being released alive. The first blue marlin came to the scales when Chip Caruso's Pipe Dreamer weighed a 426-pounder.

Dennis Meinhart is threatening a sweep of the tuna division as he added tuna of 112 and 109 pounds to his Day Two 184-pound leader. Joe Blanda's Over The Top brought in a 79-pound white to move into second behind the 88-pound leader by Steve Castellini's Uncle T. Herb Smith's Sensation took a big lead in wahoo with a 93-pounder and Cardinal Yacht Sales' Concubine continues to lead in dolphin at 44 pounds. White marlin remained abundant, as Al Conan's Ditch Digger led Wednesday's releases with 10. There were 91 boats out yesterday.

Beowulf had weighed bigeye tuna of 94 and 118 pounds, with the latter moving into third in the tuna division. Relentless brought in a 77-pound white marlin that took over third in that category.

Captains Rick Petschaur and Dave Bender of Jenny Lee from Manasquan took Captains Gene Quigley and Dave Goldman of Shore Catch Guide Service, plus friends, to the Hudson for a Tuesday overnighter that started great with 13 50-to-60-pound yellowfin tuna on the troll. Then, within minutes of starting the night chunking, they finished their limit with eight more 50-pounders.

The anglers then turned to jigging and releasing over 46 more 40-pounders using the Shimano Butterfly system. That was a big improvement over last Friday's overnighter when Captains Jimmy Gahm and Kevin Gerity ran to the Hudson and found poor trolling, but two swordfish and a 50-pound yellowfin were chunked by the Ken Switzer party from New York City at night.


Captains Phil Dulanie, Mark De Cabria and Mike Zajac had the Todd Palumbo charter aboard Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant the same night. They trolled a 70-pound yellowfin before chunking to put 22 in the boat. After that they released yellowfins to bring the trip total to 46.

Capt. Tommy Joseph provided real variety fishing Tuesday when I joined him on his Rightaway from Belmar. A run north to a couple of rocky spots produced a decent bite of porgies plus lots of sea bass, though only a few of the latter made the 12-inch minimum. After that, Joe Blaze of Brielle, Henry Kong from Colonia, Joe Pukash of Edison, Al Tandyrak from Carteret, Mike Cito of West Orange, and Paul Brill from Bound Brook opted for fluking that improved during early afternoon when a light breeze provided a little push over rough bottom that had sea bass as well as fluke, including a good percentage of keepers.

Brill did especially well by jigging a Spro bucktail tipped with bait, and ended up with a limit. Kong did almost as well by casting a small untipped bucktail jig on light tackle. Breaking bluefish were spotted near the boat at times, and I caught one by casting a Ranger surface lure during a move. Joseph takes individual reservations as well as charters.

The size wasn't as good, but there was no lack of fluke Wednesday when I joined Capt. Victor Medina of Newark to fish with Nick Di Ambrosio of Jackson on his Luna Sea 3 from Atlantic Highlands. Drifting over open bottom off Monmouth Beach produced constant action on jigs, though almost all of the 100 or so we caught in order to put eight in the box hit a Berkeley Gulp Swimming Mullet rigged as a teaser.

Live peanut bunkers were largely ignored, though they might have been too large for those fluke. One bit of excitement occurred when Di Ambrosio hooked a fish that threatened to strip his light spinning reel while Medina got broken off at the same time -- as did I while retrieving fast to run the boat. We caught up with the fish, but never saw it before the leader broke. Most likely it was a cownose ray.

At Point Pleasant, Capt. John Brackett of the Queen Mary reported starting on schools of surfacing bluefish Wednesday at Spring Lake and working offshore a bit. Frank Strouse of Sterling won the pool with a 12-pounder.

Capt. Mike Bogan said Tuesday morning's fluking from the Gambler in 55 to 65 feet off Seaside produced some large fish. Doug McGruther of Titusville ran off with the pool for a 9 1/2-pounder and added two other keepers. Rich Johnson from Brick had fluke of 7 1/2 and 4 pounds. A 6.9-pounder was caught at mid-week by 11-year-old Coby Smenckowski of Wrightstown.

Capt. Dave Riback started out the Pat Kameen party from Howell on Saturday with blues on jigs before finishing up with bait as 90 of their 97 were released from Purple Jet. The largest release was a 15-pounder fought by Brandon Kameen (8) on 12-pound spin.

Capt. Bruce Miller of Mirage ran an overnight shark trip last Thursday for Steve Hollis of Columbus, Ohio, but was frustrated by a lack of drift in the Glory Hole where the waters were blue and 78 degrees. Though there were no sharks, the party kept 30 10-to-16-pound bluefish and released twice as many. Miller also ran a fluke trip last week for Claire Beougart, who boated a 6 1/4-pounder. Michael Beougart (11) added a 4 1/2-pounder as some keepers were found among lots of shorts off Bay Head.

Miller just returned from a Wednesday overnighter yesterday afternoon and reported a big catch of yellowfins, plus an albacore for Lou DeRosa and Santino Iavarone from Toms River, Capt. Charlie Mittelstad and George Sealy of Salt Point, N.Y., and Mike and Lou Schenone of Bridgewater. They also released a 150-to-175-pound scalloped hammerhead shark at night. After a slow chunking start, there was a mad dog bite from 4 to 5:30 a.m. on live squid. The Mirage has room on a Sept. 6-7 open canyon trip. Call (732) 341-8782.

Al Ristori appears regularly in The Star-Ledger. He may be reached at