Al Ristori and Kil Song

Al's report:

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.