It's been a rough go for the offshore crew of late. By mid-July, shark and bluefin tuna are usually in pretty good supply on the near-shore grounds out to 30 fathoms while yellowfin, bigeye and other blue-water gamefish prowl the canyons.
This year, however, the offshore bite has been inconsistent, although the waters south of Shinnecock Inlet may be rounding into form. There has been some very good sharking 12 to 20 miles off the beach, plus bluefin tuna a little farther offshore have offered a reasonable chance of success.
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"It's been good here recently," said Bryce Poyer at White Water Outfitters in Hampton Bays. "We've seen a lot of small to midsized makos, threshers and brown sharks in 140 to 150 feet of water. There have also been a surprising number of juvenile great white sharks -- dozens -- sighted, and these have ranged from 100 to 500 pounds."
Poyer believes the Shinnecock offshore activity has been sparked by an influx of bait, with squid and bunker prevalent in 50- to 100-foot depths and loads of horse-eye mackerel out beyond 150 feet of water. Of the bluefin, he noted action is centered between 25 and 30 fathoms with most fish taken on trolled Zucchini spreader bars. A few of the bluefin have pushed 150 pounds, but most have weighed between 35 and 50 pounds.
Well to the west, Richie Rosenkranz at Woodcleft Fishing Station in Freeport said that a few bluefin are being taken around the Bicardi wreck and the Texas Towers, while some sharks have been tempted at the Linda and Yankee wrecks. Still, he thought a run to the east to be a good idea.
"Hudson Canyon has been very quiet," said Rosenkranz, "although there are plenty of mahi about. One angler early this week was working over a pod of the tasty treats when he saw a huge marlin rip into the school. The big blue, however, never came back to inspect a bait."
Interestingly, Rosenkranz added, deep-water wreck fishing has been quite good with plenty of tilefish and even several 30-pound-class snowy grouper -- a southern favorite infrequently encountered in our waters -- caught at Hudson Canyon.
"There was a real nice thresher shark taken this week," said Capt. Joey Leggio of Chasin' Tail TV (chasintailtv.com.) "A 147-pound mako fell to the crew of Hammertime on Sunday afternoon, just a bit east of the Yankee wreck."
According to Leggio, that fish swam up the chum slick and ignored a mackerel before taking a bunker and nearly dumping a 50W reel. Owners Billy Tharos and Carl Licht, along with crew members Anthony Gallo and Steve Jones, managed to hold on, back down and outlast the big whiptail.
Leggio added that he caught and released an 80-pound hammerhead shark early in the week, and saw several more on a subsequent trip around the tankers positioned just seven miles off Debs Inlet. That's surprising, since the hammerheads are another species more commonly found to our south.
Add to this the sighting by an angler of an estimated 400-pound mako shark in just 25 feet of water off Montauk's Gin Beach early in the week and it brings up a point experienced big-game anglers try to keep in mind: Sometimes the biggest fish can be found with the shortest ride.