Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) Oct. 27, 1989
AtSury Pirt Fttm 'Friday, Ortohrt ?7. Qg CI 1 Capt. DeFilipo laments 'tuna fishing isn't fun anymore' ty HENRY SCKAIfll TUNA FISHING isnt fun any-more," any-more," any-more," utd Capt Louis "Sonny" De Fihpo of Point Pleasant last week when the pcatest tuna fishery in history was still going strong for bluefins in the Mud Hole. tEariier, there had been a percentage of y llowfini mixed with the juvenile giants, but it was to protect the latter fkm further decimation that the National National Marine Fisheries Service closed the inshore sport fishery as of midnight ltt Friday. The closure did not surprise the 71-vyaold 71-vyaold 71-vyaold De Filipo, who is still as spry cer, still fishing for tuna, and still Ojpc(aung sports fishing tuna boats. What he does not like about the modern fishery is the commercializa- commercializa- tlDSt c Tobody is fishing for sport any-roare," any-roare," any-roare," he said. "They're all out there fishing for big bucks, catching as many fih.as possible and in the shortest qpsble time. VGaffs are a thing of the past As soon as the fish is close to the boat it is stot-with stot-with stot-with a harpoon to kill it as fast as rtewible." ,The reason, he says, is to bring the tu,na s temperature down. 9 A former mate on one of De Filipo's boats is now a dealer who sells tuna to Japan. To assist him, two Japanese tetaicians have been brought in and, according to De Filipo, "They're very sarp." As is generally known, tuna are warm blooded and, according to the two Japanese experts, their temperature temperature nset much higher than normal under stress. Just as hospitals put ice on people to bring their temperature down, the Japanese immediately put tuna into a bath of crushed ice to preserve the delicate flavor of tuna, which is usually served raw in Tokyo. "We never bled tuna in the old days, but the Japanese showed us how to bleed them immediately after capture," capture," De Filipo said. The fish are bled by subbing just behind the pectoral fin while the heart is still pumping. De Filipo said there is no question that more tuna have been taken off the coasts of New Jersey and Long Island than ever before. One of the major reasons is the enormous improvement in fishing tackle and electronic equipment When tuna fishing became a big time sport during the 1930s, white 39-thread 39-thread 39-thread linen line testing 117 pounds was standard for giants. It was strong enough, but much too visible. The choice of leaders was either 1 50-pound 50-pound 50-pound test piano wire or wire cable of about double the strength, but quadruple quadruple the visibility. "I still have a cable leader that Ferd Roebling gave me," he said. "It belongs belongs in a museum." Tuna fishing leaders today are next ftlotWy is fishing for sport anymore. M They're all out there fishing for big bucks, catching as many fish as possible and in the shortest possible time. " Capt. Louis "Sonny" Do Filipo to invisible Nylon monofilaments and just as strong as steeL Before the invention of the star drag red in the very late 1920s, reels were equipped with leather thongs and fishermen tried to stop tuna from stripping the contents by thumb pressure. pressure. That did not work. It was the Penn Reel Company's star drag Senators that put the giant tuna and other big game fishing shows on the road during the mid-'30s. mid-'30s. mid-'30s. Tuna fishing was just starting to get under way when I caught my first one in 1935. This was on the White Squall, a charter boat owned by Charles Piercey who had been a motor-paced motor-paced motor-paced professional bicycle racer at the Newark Newark Velodrome. I caught the fish on a white Japanese feather lure on a handline, and Piercey and another man helped me pull it to the boat De Filipo remembers an ocean voyage voyage on an old gasoline-powered gasoline-powered gasoline-powered boat out of Forked River when it took 10 hours to get out to where they thought the Hudson Canyon was. He believes that the first sport fisherman who actually fished in the Hudson Canyon was Francis H. Low out of Bnelle. It was Low who caught the 998-pound 998-pound 998-pound white shark in 1935 that wis mounted and hung in the New York Museum of Natural History. The shark, the largest on record at that time, undoubtedly was caught much closer to shore during the giant tuna fishing operations. Low thought that the shark was a record, which was the reason he called the museum to have an expert identify his fish. The record is the 1,135-pounder 1,135-pounder 1,135-pounder caught by Ronald McCarthy of Allen-hunt Allen-hunt Allen-hunt June 30, 1950 on his father's boat Johnny II out of Neptune. That one was also caught while fishing for tuna in the Mud Hole. Bill Macksey of Deal was the captain. The state Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife lists a 759-pound 759-pound 759-pound white shark as the record for the species, caught in 1988. Interestingly, the state is waiting for somebody to enter a porbeagle shark of at least 100 pounds to establish a record for that species. Porbeagles are anything but plentiful on this side of the Atlantic, but common common off the coast of Great Britain. De Filipo expects to run a new 48-foot 48-foot 48-foot Viking cruiser from Bay Head to Lighthouse Point on the east coast of Florida next month. He will be making delivery of the boat to a man who had the boat built to his specifications. According to De Filipo, the yacht has a top speed of 32 mph and cruises at 26 to 27. It is powered by two 750 hp diesels. "With that speed we can get to the Hudson Canyon within two hours and 20 minutes from Bnelle," he said. Sonny and his wife, Eleanor, still live in Point Pleasant where they lived when the first VS. Atlantic Tuna Tournament was held in 1937. The late Walter L McDonough of Briclle, a giant of a man who had played center on the Fordham University University football team, and De Filipo formed a tuna fishing team in the 1930s that lasted until the former's death. They were a formidable combination combination in U.S. Atlantic Tuna and Maine tournaments for many years. McDonough McDonough supplied the brawn and De Filipo the fishing skill and boat handling expertise in many big game fishing contests. I was on the Jersey Lightning during the tournament out of Belmar when De Filipo was boxed in by anchored boats on aO sides. He managed to steer a big tuna around in circles for about 30 minutes until his partner could wear it down. In another tournament out of Booth-bay Booth-bay Booth-bay Harbor, Maine, I remember when the pair were chased from a hot anchorage where a Maine fisheries warden had been feeding tuna all summer. The chasers were the warden and the late Ray Camp who was covering the event for the New York Times. McDonough was grumbling as they started drifting away from the float attached to the anchor line, but mo-menu mo-menu mo-menu later a giant boiled up behind the boat De Filipo tossed the bait back overboard, overboard, but not before McDonough had stepped on it The whole mackerel was mangled, but the tuna swallowed it anyhow, and I think the team of McDonough and De Filipo won the tournament with that fish. On one of the last USATT events out of Galilee, R.L, a hurricane damaged damaged and sank a number of boats moored at the docks, but the Jersey Lightning was not one of them. The reason was that De Filipo had the courage to take the boat out on the sound where he rode out the fury of the storm. Henry Schaefer is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Neptune.