Big Tuna Make Season Debut


Big game enthusiasts on the East End finally have something to get their blood boiling again. Some nice-sized tuna put in their first real showing on the offshore grounds over the last 10 days or so, both near and far. The deathly still seas of the early part of last week had a number of boats heading for the offshore grounds. Those that made the long runs to the canyons despite satellite images of water temperatures that were unexciting found a decent pick of fish.

On Wednesday, the Hot Potato—the big gray sportfish below the Montauk Highway bridge on the Shinnecock Canal—came back to Indian Cove Marina with Shinnecock’s first bigeye tuna of the season, a fatty that tipped the scales at more than 260 pounds, I’m told. The fish came from the Dip and fell for a White Water Outfitters bird bar. A nice fish to start the canyon season for Marcel and Andy Pollack’s crew. The Blackfoot, out of Moriches, was fishing right next to them (and actually snapped a really cool photo of them boating the bigeye), and also had a decent trip, bringing home five solid yellowfins up to 70 pounds.

But one didn’t have to run so far on a wing and a prayer to hunt for big tunas. After a year off last year, the inshore waters are teeming with bluefin tuna big and small again this summer. Boats from Montauk to Moriches came back to the docks this week with their bluefin for the scales. The biggest one of the week fell to the crew of Barbaric out of Oakland’s Marina in Hampton Bays. It tipped the scale at 227 pounds—about the largest bluefin a recreational boat can bring to the scales these days, since the slot requires that they be less than 73 inches.

Earlier in the week, the crew of Offshore Obsession weighed in a 124-pounder, and another Shinnecock boat had a 140-pounder. Even the party boat Hampton Lady got in on the tuna action, bringing home a 100-pounder for the customers to share and releasing a bunch of other fish.

Most of the Shinnecock and Moriches boats are working the Coimbra wreck area, but the fish are holding around other structures, too, along the same 170-200 region. Montauk boats have been getting their share of fish, like the 184-pounder that hit the scales at Star Island Yacht Club from the deck of the Breakwater.

The biggest fish are being taken on trolled ballyhoo/skirt combos, but plenty of nice fish are falling for diamond jigs in the middle of the day as well.

On a sour note, with regard to the bluefin fishery, however: There is pretty rampant disdain for the bluefin regulations these days. Recreational boats are allowed one tuna. Two, three, even four fish are ending up in the fish boxes of far too many boats. We are enjoying a robust bluefin fishery, and the future of giant bluefin fishing is looking good after a couple of decades when there was real concern that these fish could conceivably become extinct. The Mediterranean fleets are still slaughtering their cousins, but we have good rules and should follow them as closely as we can.

Bass fishing wilted a little bit in the extreme heat of last week. The bunker that had been hanging close to shore seem to have hightailed it for the deeps and took the larger fish that were in the surf zone with them. Schoolies are abundant off Montauk, though, and this week’s east winds could spell a hot surf bite. The rips and sound bites have shifted to deep waters now and will probably stay that way for the next few weeks.

Fluking is still easy-peasy off Montauk and inside the south shore bays.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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