Fishing Information

SHARKS OF NEW YORK BIGHT

Catch Big Makos and Threshers Just Minutes From The Hudson River Mouth.

By Gary Caputi Posted April 13, 2016

Gary Caputi

With the sun finally shinning and temperatures fast on the rise, droves of beachgoers head to the Hamptons, Long Island and the Jersey Shore. But not far from the beaches, apex predators, many of them giants weighing hundreds of pounds, cruise, looking for a meal. Starting in late spring, sharks, including makos and threshers of impressive proportions, invade New York Bight, affording anglers an edgier type of big-game action: one where the target species are not only endowed with formidable strength and endurance but also powerful jaws with rows of razor-sharp teeth.

An abundance of sharks and the forage they pursue travel in and out of New York Bight starting in late spring.

THE THOROUGHFARE

New York Bight hosts a variety of pelagics that use the massive channel to come and go across the continental shelf with the seasons. An abundance of sharks and the forage they pursue travel that ancient submarine highway scoured by the Hudson River at the end of the last ice age, turning the area into a world-class shark-fishing destination.

“Makos and threshers show up the first week of June,” says Glen Kapoosuzian, perennial shark tournament winner and skipper of Reel Games, a charter boat out of Freeport, New York. “Early fishing centers around Chicken Canyon, Glory Hole, Mudhole and nearby wrecks. It all begins when the water hits 57 degrees, and things get better as the temperature rises. I’ve caught many of my biggest sharks in early June, including a 591-pound thresher and a 594-pound mako.”

Gary Caputi

DANGEROUS QUARRY: Makos, the fastest shark species, known for its high-speed runs and amazing somersaults, and threshers, aggressive, bullish and almost as acrobatic, are headliners in the Bight. Threshers have become more prevalent over the past 10 or 15 years, yet makos, once the mainstay of the New York Bight fishery, remain plentiful.

Makos count on their sharp dentures to kill or maim prey during high-speed attacks.

Both track down prey from long distances by picking up scent dispersed by the water, so chumming is equally productive for either species. But their hunting tactics couldn’t be more different. While makos rely on their speed and daggerlike chompers to kill or severely injure during the initial attack, threshers use their long tail fins to incapacitate prey with powerful blows before circling back to devour the stunned victims.

Gary Caputi

ESSENTIAL FACTORS: Water temperature plays a key role in the arrival of early-season sharks. The larger ones, which have the greatest temperature tolerance, are usually first on the scene, and some stick around until November. “Temperature is the most important thing,” Kapoosuzian claims. “I use SST charts to find spots with water at least 57 degrees. Nearby temp breaks and structure peak my interest, but it’s a home run when you find bluefish. My best days have always come when there’s bluefish around the boat.” Both the whiptails and makos arrive at about the same time, trailing the early influx of bluefish, so it stands to reason that the best bait is fresh bluefish, especially small ones you can rig whole. Kapoosuzian works with local commercial fishermen and fish markets to get the freshest and carries plenty on each trip because there are times when you go through scads of ravenous blue sharks while waiting for a big mako or thresher to show.

For sharking in New York Bight, stand-up rods and lever-drag reels loaded with 50- to 80-pound line are standard, and circle hooks have become commonplace.

While big sharks lead the cavalcade, smaller ones pour into the Bight as the season progresses. And in midsummer, a lot of the threshers move well inshore to attack schools of menhaden, often within sight of the beach. That’s when Capt. Brian Rice of Jersey Devil out of Fairhaven, New Jersey, starts fishing for them. “You don’t have to run very far to find threshers in July,” Rice says. “We usually fish within sight of New York City, west of the ship approach to the harbor. They’re there for the menhaden, but I believe they also come for reproductive reasons. That’s why I prefer to only take a male when we decide to keep one.” Males are easily identified by their external sex organs — called “claspers” — located on the back of their pelvic fins.

Gary Caputi

PROPER SETUP: Stand-up rods and lever-drag reels loaded with 50- to 80-pound line are standard, and circle hooks have become commonplace. And with federal regs limiting boats to one shark per day, catch-and-release is often outstanding (last season we hooked six large threshers in seven hours on the east wall of the Mudhole), so using circle hooks makes sense. Rigs are a matter of personal preference. Kapoosuzian opts for 12 feet of straight, stainless wire with no skirts or rattles. Rice uses a heavy mono wind-on leader connected to a swivel and then to a 3-foot trace of wire. “The wind-on leader lets us reel the hooked shark right alongside the boat,” he explains. You also need a chumming system, floats to suspend baits in the slick, fighting belts and harnesses, and gloves for wiring. And if you consider keeping a shark, you better carry a flying gaff or harpoon, along with two or three straight gaffs and tail ropes.

If you intend to keep a shark, the angler brings the fish close enough for tThe wireman pulls the shark within range of the gaff or harpoon.

Illustration by Tim Barker

TOP SHARK RIG # 1: Capt. Glen Kapoosuzian favors a simple but effective rig with a tandem of 12/0 to 20/0 circle hooks. The leader is a 12-foot length of 240-pound stainless-steel wire attached via haywire twists to the first hook on one end and to a 300-pound swivel that connects to the fishing line on the other end. The second hook is connected about a foot behind the first with a trace of the same wire, again using haywire twists. When duplicating this rig, increase the length of the wire to account for the haywire twists (6 to 8 inches for each).

Capt. Glen Kapoosuzian prefers the more standard leader setup — a 12-foot length of wire and a tandem of circle hooks at the business end.

Illustration by Tim Barker

TOP SHARK RIG # 2: Capt. Brian Rice takes a different approach, using a single circle hook and only 3 feet of 240-pound stainless-steel wire, just enough to protect against the shark’s dentures. The wire connects the hook to a 300-pound swivel, which is then connected to a 250-pound, 10- to 15-foot-long monofilament wind-on leader. The wind-on setup allows the angler to reel in a hooked shark closer to the boat, and the designated wireman pulls on the heavy mono — easier to handle than wire — to bring in the shark for release or gaffing.

Capt. Brian Rice likes a wind-on leader setup, so the angler can bring a hooked shark closer to the boat.

Gary Caputi

CHUM FOR SUCCESS: You ain’t sharkin’ if you ain’t chummin’, and bunker (menhaden) and mackerel, ground up and frozen in large tins, are the top choices for the task. Frozen blocks of the oily, ground baitfish are placed in plastic milk crates, chum bags or perforated totes hung amidships over the gunwale to produce the visible slicks and long scent trails that attract, along with makos and threshers, various shark species, including blue, sand tiger, and even great white. A steady stream of bluefish, bunker or mackerel chunks really helps. Some anglers bring a clamp-on meat grinder on the boat to grind fresh baitfish, mix it with sea water and ladle it overboard.

Most sharking is done adrift, using chum to attract the sharks.

Both captains prefer a four-line spread with the farthest line set the deepest. Every line is rigged the same way, but each is fished a little closer and shallower than the previous one, with the closest line unweighted and set near the boat just out of sight in the water column. Early and late in the season, cold water keeps sharks closer to the surface, so set your long bait a little closer to the boat and no deeper than 75 feet. In the summer, however, the long bait can be set 200 to 300 feet back and as deep as 150 feet. Each weighted bait should be counted down to the desired depth, then floated back into the slick under a balloon or a Styrofoam float with a release system. We also spread the baits horizontally by running the longest line off a release clip on the bow rail and the next one off one of the outrigger clips.

BATTLE STATIONS

When you hook a shark, expect the surprised brute to embark on a blazing run or leap frenetically out of the water. The job of the angler is to quickly take up slack, then settle into the fighting belt and harness and let the drag do its work. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew should clear other lines and any cockpit clutter. Safety is a prime concern when dealing with sharks, especially makos and threshers. Makos are renowned for their aerial maneuvers, but threshers jump too, though not as -frequently, and those long tails of theirs can inflict -serious injury to unsuspecting crew members. I saw someone almost get knocked out by a powerful tail slap

THE END GAME

If you intend to keep a shark, have the flying gaff or harpoon at the ready with the tether securely fastened to a cleat and coiled out of the way, preferably in a 5-gallon bucket. With the boat at idle, the angler brings the fish close enough for a gloved wireman to grab the leader and then back away from the gunwale. The wireman pulls the fish within range of the gaff or harpoon, but he must remain alert in case the fish lunges away. The designated gaffer should strike firmly and without hesitation, aiming for the gills. Once the shark is subdued, it must be brought alongside to get the tail rope in place. At that point the gaff tether is secured to the spring-line cleat and the tail rope to the stern cleat until the shark expires and it’s safe to bring it in the boat. To release a shark, you skip the gaffing and clip the leader with wire cutters as close to the mouth as you dare.

Map by Keilani Rodriguez

NORTHEAST SHARK HEAVEN: New York Bight extends from New Jersey’s Cape May Inlet to Long Island’s eastern tip. It largely consists of continental shelf and includes Hudson Canyon. The direct influence of the Gulf Stream accounts for its mild climate and fertile waters.

An abundance of sharks and the forage they pursue travel that ancient submarine highway scoured by the Hudson River at the end of the last ice age.

FAST FACTS FOR SUCCESS

WATER TEMP: When the water reaches 57 degrees, sharks start showing up in New York Bight.

SHARK BAIT: Small bluefish is the preferred shark bait in the Bight: the fresher, the better.

TEAM EFFORT: Always have a designated wireman and a gaffer for safer and easier sharking

SWS PLANNER New York Bight Sharks

What: Mako and thresher sharks Where: New York Bight, from the beach to 50 miles offshore When: June through November Who: As the fishery evolves with the season, sharks move close to shore, where they're accessible to anglers in smaller boats with the proper gear. Farther offshore, larger, more seaworthy craft become necessary. These for-hire boats book shark charters in New Jersey and on Long Island.

Capt. Glen Kapoosuzian Freeport, New York 516-641-4877

Capt. Brian Rice Fair Haven, New Jersey 732-996-6372

Capt. John Williams Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey 732-539-7991

SWS TACKLE BOX New York Bight Sharks

Rods: 50- to 80-pound-class stand-up

Reels: Matching lever-drag

Line: 50- to 80-pound monofilament

Leader: 12 feet of 240-pound stainless-steel wire with a 300-pound swivel between it and the main line, or a 10- to 15-foot, 250-pound mono wind-on leader with a 250-pound swivel connecting it to 3 feet of 240-pound stainless wire

Hooks: 16/0 to 20/0 circle

Bait: Fresh small bluefish or large menhaden

THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT
Learn the historic explanation behind the long standing superstition of bananas on boats.
By Capt. Joe Wenegenofsky


Superstitions and fishing are two things which have always gone hand in hand. When you consider the innumerable variables that often coincide with a day on the water and influence its outcome, this relationship isn’t at all surprising. On any given trip you could encounter issues with tackle failure, mechanical breakdowns, electronic malfunction, unstable or volatile weather, poorly applied tactics or techniques, physical hazards/injuries, etc. Likewise, a body of game fish or baitfish that have displayed a predictable pattern for a matter of days or weeks could suddenly and virtually inexplicably change behaviors and/or location. Yes, there is only so much predictability in the realm of fishing. Just when you think you have everything dialed in, you know the bite and have your vessel and gear in perfect functioning order, some random “x-factor” goes and compromises your best efforts. With so much inherent uncertainty surrounding a day at sea, many anglers will do whatever they can to avoid putting an inadvertent hex on a trip no matter how silly it may seem. - Read more at: The Fisherman.com

A Comprehensive Approach to Pre-Season Boat Prep

Brian Rice is a charter fishing captain who plies the inshore and offshore waters off northern New Jersey with his 2006 31-foot Contender® center console. The boat is powered by the original 2006 Yamaha F250 outboards, and the hull and motors have over 2,200 hours of use on them without a major repair.

The boat has been fished hard, but sitting on the trailer in the warehouse, gleaming under three coats of wax as Rice finished up the process of getting it ready for the 2014 fishing season, it looked to be in excellent condition. Brian walked us through the thorough service program he follows before splashing the boat for another season of charters and fun fishing with his family and friends.

“The Jersey Devil is a great boat, and it’s powered by the most dependable outboards I have ever owned,” Rice said. “But dependability is a two-way street. Yamaha builds a great product, but if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s service requirements at the specified service intervals, you can’t expect to get the kind of longevity I have gotten from mine. It’s that simple.  

Rice’s spring pre-season prep work goes well beyond the outboards. The larger the boat, the more things there are to inspect, service and replace if necessary. The older the boat, the more important these system checks are to avoid what could become serious problems once you start the season. If you live in warmer climates and use your boat year round, regardless of whether you keep it in the water, on a lift or a trailer, you should set aside a time once a year to do a full vessel inspection and service. It can actually save you a lot of money on unnecessary repairs in the long run.

“Since I put a significant amount of hours on my outboards each season, I probably replace service items more frequently than a more casual boater needs to,” Rice said. “But that’s just me. I hate to let things go that could come back to haunt me during the fishing season.....Read Full Article Here

Jersey Devil EZ Shark Rig



This simple, effective DIY shark rig is sure to up your chances of hooking & landing Jaws .


Shark…just the word conjures up thoughts that vary from fear to wonder. Saltwater fishermen consider many sharks gamefish. The primary target species on both the East and West Coasts are mako and thresher, but other species present a formidable challenge on rod and reel including bull, lemon, black tip, spinner and hammerhead.



A number of shark species are true big game fish capable of growing to weights in excess of a quarter ton and beyond, but it’s the simple fact that they can be pursued relatively close to shore that draws so many anglers to try their hand at catching them. Investments in big boats with huge fuel bills are minimized and in some areas large sharks can even be caught from the beach. The tackle needed to challenge them is less of an investment than is required for chasing other large pelagic species like marlin and tuna.




Whatever species of shark you plan on pursuing the importance of properly designed and constructed terminal tackle is undeniable. When you’re dealing with fish that sport a mouth full of razor sharp teeth there’s only one company to turn to for products that are up to the challenge--AFW/Hi-Seas. They have been manufacturing the finest in wire, cable and rigging components for toothy critters for over five decades and anglers around the world rely on them when fishing for sharks.




We recently spent time with Captain Brian Rice of Jersey Devil Charters based out of Fairhaven, New Jersey to check out a rig he has been using for sharks. It is easy to construct and versatile enough to use with live, whole dead or strip baits, which means one rig can pretty much cover all the bases.



One of the features we took an immediate liking to is Brian’s use of circle hooks. This type of hook does far less harm to sharks that will be released and in reality that encompasses the vast majority of the sharks that get hooked. Where Captain Rice fishes mako and thresher sharks are the target species, but blue sharks are more abundant and frequently encountered. Since blues are almost never kept for consumption and are not recognized in tournaments they are all released. Federal regulations has size restrictions on mako so small ones must be released and they also limit the landing of mako, thresher and blue sharks to one per boat per day regardless if species.



The use of circle hooks provides a boost to shark conservation because they almost always hook a fish in the corner of the mouth. It makes removal at boat side with a specialized tool like an ARC Dehooker easier and if you have to leave the hook in place and cut the leader it will not impede the shark’s ability to feed as it rusts out.



“We’ve been using circle hooks exclusively for sharks aboard the Jersey Devil for several years,” said Rice, “and we’ve found we can remove the majority of the hooks from fish we’re releasing and that’s great. But the big bonus is we rarely fail to hook one that takes the bait. That is not the case with J hooks!”



The rig Brian demonstrated for this tutorial is sized for mako, thresher and blue sharks using 30 to 80-lb. class tackle, but the beauty of the system is it can be scaled down by reducing the hook, swivel, wire and mono leader sizes to make it applicable for use with lighter tackle and smaller species of sharks. It is quite easy to assemble so let’s get started. After you read the basics you can follow along as Brian walks you through the steps on video. Here’s what you are going to need.




Components:


20/0 circle hooks

#14 AFW Tooth Proof Stainless Steel Wire (camo finish)

1/0 Mighty-Mini Crane Swivels

400-lb. Grand Slam or Quattro Leader

Size C - 2.3 mm Grand Slam Aluminum Sleeves



Tools:

AFW Haywire Twist Tool

Crimping Tool for Aluminum Sleeves

Wire Cutter

Mono Cutter


Step 1:


Cut a length of AFW #14 wire about 6 feet long and attach the circle hook to one end using a Haywire Twist. The AFW Haywire Twist Tool makes forming perfect wire connections simple.


 

 

 

 

 

Step 2:

If you plan on using a Hi-Seas Luminous Rattle (a great sound attractor for sharks), a colorful plastic skirt or both, slide them on the wire and push them down to the hook now. Then attach the opposite end of the wire to the Crane Swivel with another Haywire Twist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3:

Cut a 10 to 12-foot length of Hi-Seas Grand Slam or Quattro leader material and slide two appropriately sized Grand Slam aluminum sleeves onto the tag end. Slip one end of the leader through the open eye of the Crane Swivel pulling about 15” to work with. Slide first sleeve down the line to the swivel creating a tight loop and crimp it in place with a crimping tool.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4:

Twist the 15” tag end of the leader around the running line to create a stiff section of double line, then slide the end through the second sleeve and crimp it in place. The twisted double line is added insurance against chafing in an area where a shark’s tail can smack the line.









Step 5:

You’re basically done with the rig (see, I told you it was simple) with the exception of determining how you want to connect it to the line on your rod and reel. There are two methods. The easiest is to use another sleeve to create a loop on the end of the leader, which will be attached to the running line with a heavy-duty snap swivel. We strongly suggest you use chafing gear like the Spring Wire Loop Protectors or Stainless Steel Thimbles offered by AFW/Hi-Seas to protect the loop from chafing against the snap swivel during use.


The other option for finishing the rig is to use a “wind on” style leader connection. This is a more time consuming process that involves using hollow core braided Dacron line to create a soft loop on the end of the rig.



Whichever way you finish the Jersey Devil E-Z Shark Rig we’re sure it will quickly become your favorite for shark fishing.

 

capt. brian rice

Join Captain Brian Rice from Jersey Devil Charters at Pride Tackle in Red Bank on Saturday March 23rd at 4 pm.

Brian will be going over new gear, tactics and intel for stripers as well as answering any questions that you may have.

Brian will also share his experiences when it comes to helping our junior anglers!!!!!!!!!

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