C-MAP Hot Spot: Wilmington Canyon

This Mid-Atlantic hot spot is known for its jumbo bigeye tuna.
FishTrack Staff
Located about 70 nautical miles off of southern New Jersey, Wilmington Canyon has a reputation for holding bigeye tuna. The trick is to key in on the structure in 100 to 200 fathoms. The bite can go off at either side of the canyon and it helps to have the latest cartography on your plotter
By using the shading feature on C-MAP charts, you can color-code each depth change, which makes it much easier to key in on the bite zone. If the bigeye or yellowfin tuna are concentrated on the 100 to 200 fathom range, this feature helps to pinpoint the best water to target.
Capt. Dave Cohen of Ledge Fever Sportfishing prefers to overnight at Wilmington Canyon for the low-light bigeye bite. "The magic hour has been 8 to 9 p.m. Just as it gets dark and the bait rises, the tuna seem to be on the move and you just have to be there for it," he says. Bigeye will also bite in the early morning. In between bigeye bites he'll drop the east and west walls for tilefish. Photos courtesy of Ledge Fever Sportfishing.
Much like Hudson Canyon, the Wilmington Canyon is a vast drop off and the bite can occur on the Tip, West or East Elbow, Flats or the popular spot known as the Notch. For yellowfin tuna, Cohen will troll the flats to the 100-fathom line. Bigeye tuna prefer deeper water to 200 fathoms. C-MAP charts help captains locate this structure.
"Early season we follow temp breaks more than structure," Cohen says. "When the temp breaks are easy to see on ST charts, fishing the breaks is the most productive. As the water temps all start blending later in the season, we will focus on chlorophyll imagery to find color breaks and look for marine life, bait and structure."
Having a range of cartography on your machine and your home PC makes it much easier to plan out your trip and note potential hot spots or places to overnight before you leave the dock. By examining the water temps and color, as well as the structure you can really pinpoint the bite locations and save yourself time and fuel. Cartography courtesy of C-MAP by Jeppesen.
For bigeye tuna, Cohen says the water needs to be 67 degrees or higher and very clean. He also notes that the currents leading up to the full moon have treated him well the past couple of seasons. After the morning bigeye bite, he'll switch it up and target tilefish in water from 450 to 700 feet. Photos courtesy of Ledge Fever Sportfishing.
The 3-D charts offered by C-MAP provide a clear image of the bottom. If you find clean blue water and a temp break over the 100-fathom edge, you are closing in on the tuna.
Once you key in on the bite zone using your > you have to choose the spread. "We don't change our spread much for yellowfin or bigeyes unless we see that the yellowfin are attacking more plastic," Cohen says. "Yellowfin tend to be caught on spreader bars, squid chains and/or ballyhoo behind a Joe Shute head and bigeyes go after ballyhoo more often than not." To fish Wilmington Canyon with Cohen go to a LedgeFever.com.

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