The Tuna Chunk Is Turning On in South Jersey
Scattered reports of the yellowfin tuna bite transitioning to the chunk were verified yesterday not only via phone calls and texts, but also when stopping at several tackle shops where we watched one hoisted on the scale that read in excess of 85-pounds.
Trolling wide and side trackers (especially zucchini, black/purple and rainbow) was still putting fish in the boxes, and the past couple of weeks jigging was getting a lot of play.
Sure, bluefin were also all over the trackers and whacking away at the jigs, especially the 120 gram Streaker in the sand eel pattern. Popping was also effective, with the white Madd Mantis and the Nomad Chug Norris in the Holo White Shad getting crushed.
However, it’s the evolution from the troll to the jig to chunking for yellowfin that truly defines the summer’s mid-range and canyon fisheries.
The bigeye tuna bite is percolating (the Hudson Canyon to the north is full of ‘eyes), and longfin are expected to arrive later in August into September, but it’s start of the yellowfin chunk bite that has the tunatics fired-up. The way flats of sardines and butterfish (some butters are being sold in 5-pound blocks) are being loaded in the backs of pickups, and 20 pound bags of ice being jammed in the over-sized coolers, it’s a sure bet that weekend could be the full “official” breakout of the chunking season.
From the southern canyons such as the Wilmington, Baltimore, Lindekohl and Toms up through the mid-range areas like Little Italy, the Resor and Atlantic Princess, the yellowfin chunk is getting underway and will accelerate in intensity with the movement of good water and the continuing arrival of fish.
Fingers are crossed for a repeat of the 2020 Triple Wrecks area bite extended into October with only a couple of brief lulls. To be sure, that action was describes as once-in-a-lifetime, historical, epic, stellar, psycho and just plain sick.
We shall see. Meanwhile, reserve those flats because chances are they’re going to be in short supply. ‘Tis the season.