Big Tunas Are Back In The Canyons


Once again it is August, and what had been a quiet offshore fishing season has exploded into some of the best fishing our region can produce.The spectacular bluefin tuna bite at the Coimbra has quieted down, capped off with a rare inshore showing of blue-water species like blue marlin, big mahi and wahoo. But nearly simultaneously with that fishing fading out early last week, the window flew open over the canyons, and wolfpacks of bigeye tuna came rushing in to fill the void for the big-game crowd.

A cold water finger east of Block Canyon created the first good temperature break that we’ve seen this year, and as soon as the weather allowed boats from Montauk and Nantucket to get at it, the bigeyes were on the chew. The Flying Dutchman and the Sea Monster both decked quartets of fish topping 200 pounds each along with a smattering of smaller yellowfins last Monday, and a few more fish came in later in the week. Chances are another good push of fish will be seen again midweek this week, as a lot of boats are taking advantage of the weather window on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Whether it is a natural cyclical upswing, the proliferation of the use of spreader bars, or just a sharpening of skills by the offshore gang, the numbers of bigeye tuna being caught in the northeast canyons has skyrocketed in the last few seasons to levels not seen since the early days of canyon fishing in the 1980s.

And the best should still be yet to come, with the August full moon approaching next week. The Shinnecock Marlin & Tuna Club’s Hamptons Offshore Invitational is poised to have a banner showing at the scales if the weather cooperates. The tournament, which has raised more than $1 million in the last 13 years for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island, kicks off right in the midst of what should be the prime bite in the days before the full moon. It’s not too late to get your boat and crew on the list for what has become Long Island’s premier big-game tournament—and the awards dinner is one of the best you can attend if you’re not already in Ocean City for the White Marlin Open. Go to to download the entry form.

Inshore, the fishing has been fantastic too. If you’re after striped bass, you pretty much have to go to Montauk, where the big fish have been on the feed during the incoming tides every day and night, and were even up on the surface crashing sandeels and tinker mackerel over the weekend, I’m told. If we get some cool north winds in the next couple of weeks, we might see an early start to the autumn blitzes.

The fluke fishing in the ocean has been steady, and a ticket on any of the party boats out of Montauk or Hampton Bays will certainly send you home with a big bag of fillets.

Snapppers are showing up every day but are still a bit small for the frying pan. The Shinnecock Canal or any inlet to one of the harbors should have all you can stand.

Triggerfish are starting to stack up on the rock piles. Clam baits on the end of the Shinnecock Inlet jetties are the best bet for catching a few of these odd-looking but tasty critters.

Porgies are still an easy bet in the Peconics or at the north end of the Shinnecock Canal if you don’t have a boat.

The pound trappers have started catching the odd tropical species, like cobia and tripletail. There is almost certainly a tarpon cruising our local waters by now.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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