Cape May, New Jersey

Once the water begins to warm up in summer, pelagic species, particularly tuna, arrive in the waters off southern New Jersey.

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Once the water begins to warm up in summer, pelagic species, particularly tuna, arrive in the waters off southern New Jersey. Everything from bonito, skipjacks, false albacore, yellowfin, bigeye and especially bluefin tuna show up along the nearshore mud lumps and in the offshore canyons. During the past several seasons, a fair number of bluefin tuna have been taken on fly. Most of the fish caught closer to shore are smaller
schoolie tuna of up to 30 pounds, and these make a reliable showing up and down the coast of New Jersey for much of the summer and early fall. These little tuna are awesome fly-rod targets, and you don't have to run all day to find them. For the truly adventurous, bigger bluefin that range from 50 to well over 200 pounds frequent the offshore canyons with amazing regularity throughout the summer. The only downside to chasing these fish is that the run to the canyons takes advance planning and, more important, good weather.

If you really want to test your mettle and your tackle, then this is definitely the fishery for you. Bluefin of all sizes will quickly exploit the weaknesses in any gear or angler, but the experience is one you will remember forever. For smaller tuna, you can use a 12- or 13-weight rod, but don't bring anything short of a 14-weight with a heavy reel that has at least 600 yards of backing for the bigger ones. If a fish takes anything more than that, you'll never get it back anyway. Intermediate- and fast-sinking fly lines such as Rio's Leviathan, which was developed specifically for the bluefin tuna fishery, are ideal. Fast-sinking lines usually have a smaller diameter that reduces its drag in the water and therefore the pressure on the tippet. For flies you'll definitely want baitfish imitations in sizes 3/0 to 6/0 - particularly ones that resemble butterfish, menhaden or herring, and all of them should be tied on the heaviest hooks possible.

For more information, contact Shore Catch Guide Services at 732-528-1861, www.shorecatch.com.