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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We have cancelled all our late summer and fall canyon over night tuna chunking trips the last two years mainly due to lack of Yellowfins in our local canyons. It has cost us thousands in revenues plus we refunded all deposits but some groups still have deposits holding dates for the 2010 season hoping the Yellowfins show up. That is all Mother Nature’s call and no one can predict what is in the future as far as Yellowfins off the Mid-Atlantic states in the coming years and all we can do is hope and pray that we just experienced a natural downturn in the numbers of them and they will reappear in decent numbers like in past years but that is very iffy and I personally am very concerned about what happened to the tuna. Even down in Morehead City, NC there has been no spring Yellowfns like in past years recently and no one has an answer what happened to them down there either. My gut tells me they may have been killed off in such large numbers by foreign purse seiners and possibly are not around anymore to be caught. I am aware that there was some caught way offshore on the far side of the Gulf Stream but no charter or recreational boats from my home port in Cape May, NJ is going to run 150 miles offshore to overnight tuna chunk or troll for that matter. I also know the we experienced some super hot water in our area the last few years that produced some outstanding fall White Marlin fishing and I do believe that 80 degree water is too warm for most tunas except Blackfins and that might be the reason why they have abandoned our local canyons but again that is Mother Nature at work and out of our control. Here is what I am proposing if things do not change for the better this coming season and in the future.
I think some of us that have always targeted tuna first and foremost might have to rethink the target species when canyon fishing and start to consider doing some trolling for Billfish if the tuna do not show up like the past few years. I know that some of the Ocean City, MD charter boats were running for Billfish since the tuna were not around and some did quite well with the great White Marlin bite we have seen lately. Tuna would still be my first choice as I am a meat guy at heart but the winds of change are upon us and we cannot stay in business by cancelling our trips due to lack of tuna in our local canyons. I honestly have little desire to sit out in the deep chunking all night waiting for a nonexistent tuna bite that just flat out has not happened the last two years in our local canyons. I feel that doing some billfishing along with Wahoo-Mahi trolling could provide a good day on the water with friends and family and far better than not fishing at all. If there are any tuna around you still can catch them using the small ballyhoo rigs used for the Whites. We would try to provide a nice mixed catch and some meat to take home for our customers but action is what we would try our best to offer those that would consider trying this type of fishing. I doubt we would ever come close to getting 15-20 White bites a day like the private boats that specialize in White Marlin fishing but even a few good bites a day should offer some action that many of our customers that meat fish only have never experienced in the past when night chunking was their main style of fishing. We have had plenty of customers that dreaded doing any trolling at all and only wanted to chunk at night and then go home. Lately many of our jigging customers feel the same way but if the tuna are not around then doing some Billfishing might just be of interest and worth giving it a try at least. It may not be many anglers first choice but unless you try it how do you really know if it can provide some enjoyment. I know last fall we hooked into a few really nice Whites in the 75-90 lb class on wire while Wahoo fishing along the 40-50 fathom lines and everyone on board did enjoy the experience as most of our customer base had never fished for billfish or had the opportunity to see one up close with the exception of a few that fished for sails down in Florida in the winter months.
I fully realize that trolling for any species will not replace night tuna chunking or swordfishing for so many anglers that were able to experience this type of fishing when it was really good. Chunking at night in the Northern Canyons has become a tradition for so many anglers over the years and I know it is not easy to change but if the tuna do not show again this season I think this might be something for at least a few to consider. This leads to the big question when charter fishing is it okay to kill one legal fish to smoke since the group is paying a couple of thousand dollars for the day to fish with us and legally we would be doing nothing wrong but in the past I have always released any billfish we caught by accident while tuna fishing.
 

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CApt. John, first Happy and Safe New year to you sir. I wish the best for you and Mrs. Diana and the crew.

I remember being referenced as chicken little, not by yourself, when I posted a similar thread about lack of yellowfin a couple years ago and this year as well. I too hoped I was wrong and still do. However, I heard a sufficent rumor something about the French Purse seiners did them in pretty good. Something about their migratory route was defined and the biomass of fish made it worth their while to fish them hard. I was told the metric tons equated to something like 9 million 60# tuna. This started in 2007 and continued and may still be continuing. Sad, sad news if it is trueand I noe strongly suspect it is. It is supposed to be backed up in the catch data, as it was not done illegally and is documented quite well. i don't know where to look to backup the rumor though. AGAIN, this is rumor but made sense and was supposed to be published in one of our offshore mags, but I haven't seen it yet. Sad though. Whether it is exact or half truth I dunno however, I do know that tuna fishing has been changed signifigantly and will prolly remain so for a long time.

Having said that I still plan to pursue the game. Swords at night, and like you I will marlin fish if I have too during the day.

Wish you the best and look forward to talkingwith you later this year.
 

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If Charters start keeping one for the smoker NMFS will shut it down very, very quickly. We have a coastal quota which is mainly there to allow tournaments to keep fish. They start hearing charters are keeping a white for the table they'll close it.

We're only allowed to keep 250 white/blue a year. How they monitor that is anyone's guess

Never a surprise when a fish with no commercial quota gets wipe out
 

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I still am not sold on the fact yft stocks have been compromised by commercial interests. There were tons of yft on the troll the past 2 years, in June and July, yet water temps soared and we did not see the usual eddy rotation bringing temps breaks throughout our canyon edges. The far NE canyons did, ie, Veatch, and they fared MUCH better. However, I do feel we may have a forage issue as squid have not been as thick as I have seen them in prior years, although there has been decent amounts of smaller baitfish in the canyons.

Besides, and I give Adam credit for this line, all those little yft we had came from somewhere and need to grow up soon.

John
 

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Capt John,

I know it's probably not your favorite species to target, but I think this is definitely a good decision to open up your fishing to white marlin charters. Just as there is the people who love to chunk and jig, there is also a growing population of anglers who love to target white marlin in the summer. With light tackle outfits, this could truly offer anglers a great fight and aerial display that one usually sees in other marlin hot spots around the world.

Hopefully I will have some time this summer to work with you again---give me a call if you need some help with the drum charters this spring.

Alex
 

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John D, While I agree some did Ok on the early season troll with those immature fish. Those fish are said to be a different body of fish. I do not know the exact science but YF accept different migratory paths as they grow some studies have found. Those baby Yellows have always been there as that is migration of the imature fish as I know it. I know as a kid we made a few early season trips for a couple of seasons but decided to wait as the later season had the more fun bigger fish and you would catch all you wanted.. Also, in those days, those small fish had little market value.

I can't say enough that I hope I am wrong. However, although the fat lady hasn't sung she has certainly taken the stage.

As for the fish up North, I know a few market folks, all have talked about a shortage of Yellows. However, and this is hopeful, I think it was early Decemeber when some Yellowfin were caught, commercially, and local. Decent fish too, 60 to 80 I was told.

Time will certainly tell. However, when he real senior folks recogize the issue it really hits home. Also, when other big charter guys are BFing and commercial fishing instead of over nighters, during what used to be the prime of season, that really drives it home.
 

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As for the fish up North, I know a few market folks, all have talked about a shortage of Yellows. However, and this is hopeful, I think it was early Decemeber when some Yellowfin were caught, commercially, and local. Decent fish too, 60 to 80 I was told.
You heard that info this past December Bear?
 

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Bear:

I don't have the numbers offhand, but the Canyon Runner did very well on the troll the past two summers (June and July), quantity and quality. Personally, I think when the waters really heat up by Aug/Sept--we have had a lack of defined temp breaks and new eddy movement along the shelf line the past 2 years. Capt Len Belcaro also alluded to this (I think there was an article in BGJ last winter). To make my point, Veatch enjoyed a great eddy break in Aug-Sept--and they slammed the yft out of there.

Time will tell, but I am not freaking out yet.

John
 

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for those of us who enjoy billfishing and for that matter tournament fishing, it is a very bad decision to allow patrons to keep billfish. Over the past 20 years catch and release is very much what the sport of billfishing is about and patrons should experience that as they do the traditions of overnight canyon fishing. if paying patrons really need to kill a fish to have had a sucessful trip cut the far by 100 bucks and send them to the fish market after the trip.Lets not let what happened to the Seabass fisherman happen to the tournament fisherman
 

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for those of us who enjoy billfishing and for that matter tournament fishing, it is a very bad decision to allow patrons to keep billfish. Over the past 20 years catch and release is very much what the sport of billfishing is about and patrons should experience that as they do the traditions of overnight canyon fishing. if paying patrons really need to kill a fish to have had a sucessful trip cut the far by 100 bucks and send them to the fish market after the trip.Lets not let what happened to the Seabass fisherman happen to the tournament fisherman
Alternatively, for those who enjoy billfishing, how about YOU negotiate the price (out of your own pocket) with the customer to have him not take his catch and go to the fish market instead?

As long as it is within the bounds of the law (and boat policy as articulated up front), people should be entitled to keep what they catch. Kudos to the Capt--who is running a BUSINESS-for trying to feel out and do the right thing beforehand. If you don't like the law, change the law, not the business owner.

Just trying to be objective here, not inflammatory.
 

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Available at the Fulton Fish Market

Barracuda, Barramundi, Black Grouper, Blue Marlin, Bluefish, Bronzini, Carp, Catfish , Clams, Cockles, Cod , Conch, Crab, Crawfish, Dover Sole, Eel, Flounder, Fluke, Grouper, Halibut, John Dory, King Crab, King Salmon, Live Soft Shell Crabs, Lobster, Lobster Tails, Mahi Mahi, Maguro Sushi, Marlin, Monkfish, Mullet, Octopus, Orata, Oysters, Parrot Fish, Perch, Pike, Pollock, Pompano, Red Grouper, Red Snapper, Salmon, Shark, Shrimp, Skate, Smoked Salmon, Sea Bass, Snapper, Sole, Squid, Sturgeon, Swordfish, Talipa, Trout, Tuna, Wahoo, Whitefish, Whiting, Wild Salmon and more are the fresh catch of the day at the New Fulton Fish Market.
The fish are IN THE MARKET anyway....

So whatz wrong with a fellow that spends a ton of money chartering a boat taking home hiz own fish?? Huh?? Or is this, but those fish were cought by the "commercial fisherman", gota protect "their jobs"??

Or is this type of so called "charter" just for the hoytee toytee rich, I can spend more than most fishermen?
 

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Is there A BAG LIMITon marlin?? Not that I know of. I have no problem with paying customers taking 1 LEGAL fish. I practice catch and release of all billfish "unless we fish in a tourny". Many of us on this board do the same thing. The man is trying to keep his patrons happy, I can't pass judgement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I thought I might add this

First I did not see any mention of any quotas on either White or Blue Marlin but only that you can legally keep one per day as long as they meet the size limit set by the NMFS. Maybe there are is more to this that I am not aware of but this is what I found when I looked up the regulations for Billfish on line.

Atlantic billfish
• Blue marlin: 99 inches (251 cm) lower jaw-fork length.
• White marlin: 66 inches (168 cm) lower jaw-fork length.

I just want this post to be kept in the right format as all I was suggesting is that more charter customers that were strictly meat anglers in the past give some thought to trying some Billfishing if the tuna do not show up again this summer and fall. I truly am starting to believe the days of loading up the freezer with tuna steaks plus enough left over to feed all your freinds and relatives may just be a thing of the past and we will have to learn to fish for the pure enjoyment of being out on the water and anything we might catch just adds to the day. I hope I am wrong and we see many many tuna next season and in future years as well.
I personally feel the releasing a Billfish is the right thing to do but it would be hard to convince one of my charters that it is okay to kill them in big money tournaments and not allow them the legal daily limit if they so want to keep one. I am aware that most Billfish that are caught in the tournaments are released but not all my charter customers are aware of this as all they hear about is the big money paid out so it would fall upon me to inform them of the boat's policy prior to booking the trip.
Again just a suggestion to those anglers that did not get out on their scheduled overnight chunking trip due to lack of tuna locally and possibly you might want to consider doing a day troll where we actually target some Whites. I do believe that most would enjoy this if they would give it a try especially if the tuna do not show up again this season in any decent numbers or size in our southern canyons where we fish.
 
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