Capt. Billy Taylor had been on the rod for over two hours with a big bluefin at the end of his line. Fishing 60 miles south of Jones Inlet on Sunday near the Bacardi Wreck, he had steadily gained the upper hand. Below the 35-foot Duffy, the hefty tuna was tiring, circling ever-tighter in the 68-degree water.
“That’s when we saw the shadow,” said Taylor. “It was a thick, dark shape nearly the length of our boat and it swam straight for our fish.”
In a single gulp, the 400-pound bluefin was gone, said Taylor, eaten like a six-inch butterfish dropped over the side for bait. The Copiague angler isn’t sure whether the huge predator was a giant great white shark or an orca but one thing was certain: He wasn’t dipping his toes in the water to cool off after that show.
Despite the big bluefin gone missing, Taylor and his crew still managed to ice a 200-pound bluefin before the day was out. Other tuna chasers, most fishing five to ten miles beyond the wreck, also scored with bluefin recently. Several 125- to 200-pounders were weighed at Woodcleft Fishing Station in Freeport, according to proprietor Richie Rozenkranz.
To the east, at Whitewater Marine Outfitters in Hampton Bays, Rich Parisen noted that offshore waters this year seem especially full of life. “We’re seeing a lot of whales, big sharks, tuna, and tons of sand eels,” Parisen said, with the baitfish triggering an aggressive offshore bite.
Most of the tuna, Parisen and Rosenkranz agreed, have been hooked on the troll. Both of Taylor’s big strikes came on trolled spreader bars with ballyhoo baits. Parisen said the Shinnecock based Tiger Lily weighed in a bluefin Saturday that tipped the scales at more than 450 pounds.
While tuna and shark have been the offshore highlights, many anglers are eagerly awaiting the opening of black sea bass season on Saturday. There has been a ton of controversy surrounding this species, which is currently listed as being more than 240 percent above the desired stock threshold as set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) coordinating with NOAA Fisheries.
New regulations, officially announced only Wednesday, allow anglers to keep a scant three per day from June 23 to Aug. 31, and seven per day from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. The minimum black sea bass size limit is 15 inches.
Big stripers are still making waves along the South Shore. The hottest action has shifted east between Moriches and Shinnecock inlets. Among the trophies checked in recently have been a 63-pounder caught outside Moriches Inlet on a live bunker by Adam Poko last Saturday. That monster ate a live bunker and was officially weighed at Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Mastic Beach. George McPhee decked a 59-pound cow on a bunker east of New Inlet and weighed his trophy at Silly Lily Fishing Station in East Moriches.
Several fishing tournaments are scheduled for this weekend, The Duke of Fluke contest on Sunday is one of the more popular. Register by Saturday at Combs Bait and Tackle in Amityville (631-264-3525; www.facebook.com/combsbaitandtackle). For Long Island Sound anglers, the Strong’s Marine Mattituck Madness Fishing Tournament is worth the trip east. Hurry, though, the mandatory captain’s meeting is slated for Friday night at Pace’s Dockside (631-298-4770 ext. 28; www.strongsmarine.com/fish