Canyon tuna fishermen have enjoyed a generally good season so far, and with waters remaining warm it's likely that will continue well into the fall.

Though there were areas of cooler water Tuesday, Capt. Mark DeBlasio looked around south of Toms Canyon with his Hooked-Up II from Hoffman's Marina in Brielle when we arrived that afternoon and he was able to set up in 72 degree waters. There was a bit more southwest wind than predicted, but the somewhat choppy sea was comfortable in the 55-foot Crown Marine, and it was exceptionally warm for October.

Veteran tuna fisherman Kil Song of Englewood Cliffs put together the group I joined, including Meensu Choi and Jin Kwon Kim of Edison, Moo Han from Scotch Plains, Bill Ikin from New City, N.Y., and Joe Shelley of Denville. Those anglers are jigging specialists, and they did catch some tuna that way, though bait had the upper hand.

Live squid have been abundant under the lights this year, but we were able to catch only one and never saw another. Chub mackerel came through at times, and that's what the tuna wanted. It seemed you only had to drop one down for a bite, but the only mackerel caught were on the big jigs. We never could jig them with Sabicki rigs, even when there were good readings. Frozen sardines were an acceptable substitute.

The first fish hooked was a swordfish, but it spit the large squid bait as DeBlasio was trying to clear it from running under the bow -- and then swam around the boat thumbing its bill at us. The tuna bite started slowly, but there was a good yellowfin flurry just before first light that kept mate Ed Farrell busy clearing tangles and gaffing tuna. That was followed by a shot of big albacore at dawn before everything died at sunup. Not long after, DeBlasio started a comfortable 25-knot run home in a following sea.

It wasn't one of those wild nights, and we had to work for each tuna, but still ended up with a full hold of 16 in the slush ice plus two dolphin while several other tuna were lost. The tuna were a bonus on a great moonlit night in warm weather, while we were sustained by tuna rolls from Choi's Woojeon Restaurant in Edison. DeBlasio -- who can be reached at (646) 239-5566 -- had a successful early-summer season with the Delmarva bluefin run before bringing Hooked-Up II north as part of the ever-growing Canyon Runner fleet.

Andy Dubman of Forked River got a big surprise while fishing Friday at Lindenkohl Canyon with John Tylutki from that town on his 34-foot Proline. They had four tuna aboard by 3 a.m. when three huge tuna started crashing into squid at their stern. Dubman dropped back a live squid on a 6/0 Penn Senator filled with 80-pound Hi Seas mono to hook what he assumed was one of the tuna. It was two hours before they saw a big swordfish come into sight, and an hour later it sounded again. Dubman worked another hour to inch the fish up to three waiting gaffs before the 275-pounder was subdued after a four-hour battle.

J.R. Thomas of Belvidere weighed a 46 3/4-pound striper bass last weekend at The Tackle Box in Hazlet. He said it was caught on bunker at Shrewsbury Rocks.


Captains Rick Petschauer and Dave Bender ran into colder water Tuesday at Lindenkohl Canyon with Jenny Lee from Manasquan, and only found slightly warmer water further south. Though four tuna were boated right away, it was slow after that and they ended up with seven yellowfins while losing as many. The Lindenkohl had produced 18 yellowfins to 75 pounds Friday night for the Greg Shapiro party from Pennsylvania that released another 10 plus two swordfish. The largest tuna hit Shimano Butterfly jigs.

Capt. Chris Hueth is happy with the sea bass and porgy action he's into with his Big Mohawk from Belmar.

Great weather, great catches
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At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. George Bachert said fluking has improved again down the beach. Joe Jacobs of Sayreville bagged five up to a pool-winning 5 pounds Monday on his Angler, and came back the next day to catch five more. Bill Weber of Newburgh, N.Y., caught six up to 5 pounds.

Capt. Don Hager is finished weakfishing and now sailing his Sea Fox daily for bottom fish. He said there are lots of sea bass, even if many are short of 12 inches. Porgies supplement the catch. Jose Sanchez of Aberdeen was high hook with 29 fish.


Friday ling trips continue to produce well. Despite last Friday's northwester, Ronald Littlefield of Hazlet totaled 44 ling during the weekly Mud Hole trip. The Sea Fox is no longer night bluefishing. Friday and Saturday night trips will be for stripers.

At Point Pleasant, Capt. Rich Oris fished the Farms on Saturday with Mirage as the Bob Grant party from Milleville, N.Y., got into blues and sea bass before Oris moved to Shrewsbury Rocks to troll more blues on bunker spoons and shad rigs.

Last week's open canyon trip produced lots of dolphin from 5 to 15 pounds, along with bar jacks, pilotfish and a blue runner, as Oris and Capt. Tom Walsh trolled weed lines in Toms Canyon before setting up for an all-night pick of tuna that produced 12 yellowfins and one albacore for Vinny Valente of Brick, Andy Brensinger from Zionsville, Pa., Anthony Palumbo of Oakland, Bob Dugan from Paramus, and Tony Costello of Bordentown.

A few spots may be open for the next open trip on Oct. 11-12. Call Capt. Bruce Miller at (908) 278-2415.

Capt. Bob Pennington anchored his Sea Devil just south of Hudson Canyon at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and Jim Victor was soon hooked into a 140-pound swordfish that was boated 45 minutes later. A great two-hour tuna bite started at 3:15. Almost 60 tuna were hooked, though some were lost. Dan Titen, 15, and his dad Mitch each boated two as did the father-and-son team of John and Eric Johannesen. Sal Costa added an 80-pound swordfish to his yellowfin.

Pennington said Monday's canyon action was by far the best of the season. All but one angler had yellowfin limits, as the tuna were chasing bait around the boat and leaping out of the water in pursuit. A 50-pound wahoo was also caught on bait.

Capt. John Brackett reported bluefish limits for all Sunday on his Queen Mary, and little tunny showed up again after having been missing Saturday.

Capt. Jim O'Grady of the Cock Robin had another fine catch of blues and little tunny Sunday at the rock pile he's been fishing for weeks. Light tackle tunny specials are being run every Monday and Wednesday this month. Call (732) 892-5083 for reservations.

Monday's tunny special was disappointing. Nick Honachesky of Normandy Beach was aboard and reported there were only four tunny and one skipjack taken at the east end of the Mud Hole, though he jigged three 3-pound sea bass off the bottom. It was back to great bluefishing Tuesday with 15-bluefish limits common and some anglers adding as many more releases on both bait and jigs.

At Brielle, Capt. Joe Bogan reported excellent bottom fishing during Sunday's first daily three-quarter-day trip of Jamaica II for sea bass and porgies. Clams were effective on both species over local wrecks in 65 to 75 feet. Pete LaCour of Spring Lake Heights limited with 25 bass and added 35 porgies.

Spots are available on the Oct. 16 and 28 14-hour sea bass trips, and on the 12-hour Mud Hole specials set for Oct. 23, 29 and 30. Call (732) 458-3188 for reservations.

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