Over the last 25 years that I have been running offshore trips out of the Cape May, NJ area, I have observed a reluctance by many of our customers to not want to do overnight canyon trips until the fall.
Many anglers that fish out of more northern ports have a totally different view on this subject and prefer overnight canyon trips all tuna season instead day troll or chunk trips. Part of the reason is they have a little longer run to the canyons than the ports in southern NJ, Delaware and Maryland. However, I think the main reason is they have learned over the years how much more productive overnight trips can be. With the exception of inshore Bluefin tuna fishing along the 20-30 fathom lumps and hills, you just have a much better chance to catch Yellowfins and Big Eyes when fishing on a 24-30 hour overnight trip! I will say, generally the trips do cost more and they are not for everyone, especially those who do not want to be on a boat for that long a period, but overnight trips drastically increase the odds of putting a great catch together.
This was the case last season when the best tuna fishing for most of the season was in the Washington Canyon that had a world class Big Eye bite most of the summer! Almost all of our Big Eyes came just around sunset or at first light. Being able to fish these low light periods in the very early am and into the night when there was less boat traffic really went a long ways in helping us have such a great season on tuna in 2013.
On top of the Big Eye trolling bite, we chunked and jigged during the night and caught lots of yellowfin after we finished fishing for Big Eyes. On a few of our 30 hour trips in July we limited out on the smaller Yellowfins, boated a 200 lb. plus Big Eye and then stopped on the way home and did some catch and release jigging of 100 lb. plus Bluefin’s. It really was magical tuna fishing for us on almost all our overnight trips last season.
So, my advice to anyone thinking about tuna fishing and looking to catch a Big Eye…consider the overnight trips and I think you will find the productivity is worth it. In some years overnight trips have not been necessary due to fish being in local canyons, but in the last year or so, the fishing seems to be in the southern canyons. That’s not to say that couldn’t change overnight or this year, but right now, it’s looking like the southern canyons and overnight trips are worth the time!