The Hot Bite

This week’s best fishing destination.

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Angler with a large tuna on board
The offshore tuna bite has been on fire in the Northeast and is expected to only get better. Mark DeBlasio

Hot Spot: Point Pleasant NJ
Species: Yellowfin, Bigeye Tuna
Captain: Mark DeBlasio, Blue Runner Sportfishing

After an impressive showing at the Tri State Canyon Shootout, Captain Mark DeBlasio on Blue Runner Sportfishing was buzzing about yellowfin and bigeye tuna. His team ended the tournament in the money after a two-day fishing binge.

DeBlasio reports: “We were fishing the Hydrographers Canyon, 135 miles from Block Island,” DeBlasio reports. In the deep, DeBlasio found cobalt blue water and loads of yellowfin tuna. “We broke off our only bigeye bite,” he laments.

DeBlasio focuses on two areas in summer. “We either fish offshore overnight or we take a mid-shore day trip,” he says. The offshore trips focus on trolling, chunking or vertical jigging for yellowfin tuna. Blue Runner’s extended offshore trips add to the menu trophy dolphin and vertical jigging for big tilefish.

The mid-shore trips are limited to areas 30 miles from shore in 20 to 30 fathoms. He says, “To find tuna, we start our search at known humps and lumps and then look for dolphins, whales, and birds.” Sea life on the surface indicates sand eels and squid below.

Blue Runner’s offshore trips extend 50 to 60 miles to the distant canyons and the edge of the continental shelf. Before the long-range trip, DeBlasio studies satellite images of water temperature and conditions. “I look for chlorophyll readings to indicate where blue and green water meet,” he explains.

This summer, DeBlasio says the fish are more likely to be on the green side of the color change in blended blue-green water. “That’s where the bait is holding.”

To fish for yellowfin tuna, DeBlasio starts the day trolling. He pulls a spread of 12 to 15 rods rigged with six to eight spreader bars mixed with squid chains and ballyhoo or Ron-Z lures with skirts.

This year, DeBlasio has been fishing an adjustable Dial Tracker spreader bar from Sterling Tackle. The Dial Tracker features an angled keel under the leading bird that moves the bar, like a planing board, farther away from the boat. The new Tracker bar has an adjustable keel to control how far the bar swims to the side. “When it is rough, I can adjust the keel to keep the bar swimming straight behind the boat,” he adds. This year, the hot colors are zucchini green and purple.

If DeBlasio marks tuna with his fishfinder but he can’t get a bite on the trolling spread, he will switch to vertical jigging. He uses a 100 to 120-gram jig on a Okuma Tesoro 12 reel and Jigging World Ghost Hunter rod. “I like a long, skinny jig in pink or green to imitate sand eels,” he suggests.

Over the next few weeks, DeBlasio expects mid-shore fishing to improve. “I’m seeing more tuna in the 30-fathom range,” he says. The captain expects a good tuna bite late summer to early fall as the fish move closer to shore. DeBlasio notes: “There is a lot of blue water to the east, that’s a good sign for fishing in August and September.”

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