It sounds like giant bluefin are harder to find this year all up and down the East coast.
What is your favorite place to go for bluefin tuna? (I assume that this is the prime time for most places...if not...what time would you go?)
The small or medium bluefin usually show up off Southern NJ, Maryland and Virginia in early July and stay there for a month. This is my favorite time to catch them on chunk and jigs. The average size bluefin is about 50 - 150 lbs.
Some bluefin stay there until fall and we catch them behind scallop draggers as you do behind shrimp trawlers in Gulf of Mexico.
School bluefin showed up in Cape Cod Bay/Stellwagen Bank and east of Cape Cod in great number from late June and they stay there until Oct. They usually catch them by trolling, but many fishermen start to catch them on jigs and poppers recently. From Aug giant bluefin move into the area too.
Bluefin tuna used to follow inshore routes, but they started to show up at canyons a few year ago and we had great bluefin fishing at canyons in Oct and early Nov when they are migrating to south until last year. But we had very slow canyon bluefin fishery this year. When I fished Washingto canyon in early Nov last year, I couldn't get down my jigs deep as school bluefin in 40 - 50 lbs intercepted my jigs like blackfin tuna.
Giant bluefin fishery is different and most giant were caught by commercial fishermen. When bluefin winter ground were discovered off NC years ago, fishing was unbelievable. When they used to show up off Hatteras, NC, bluefin were smaller in 150 - 200 lbs and you could catch and release them 10 - 20 a day by chunk. But those bluefin never returned off Hatteras in recent years. But the bigger bluefin off Morehead City are strictly caught by trolling in shallow water. It was a norm to catch and release half dozen 400 - 500 lbs bluefin a day years ago, but we experienced very slow fishing last two years and this year is a little better than last year's though they catch only 5 - 10 a day among 100 boats.