South Jersey’s June Thresher Pressure
The half way page on the calendar signals the onset of the offshore season when bluefin tuna, soon to be followed by yellowfin and then bigeye tuna, dominate the offshore angling scene.
An all-star player in the June mix is the high flying mako shark known for its aerial acrobatics, tenacious fight and, last but not least, its superlative quality on the dinner plate.
A “Poor man’s swordfish,” so to speak.
Enter the thresher shark, a bunker eating machine with a long upward arcing tail (usually half the body length) that is used to herd menhaden, or other schooling forage, via thrashing and slapping the surface, then whacking the victims to stun mode before putting on the bite.
Arriving at the same time, but much closer than the far-off makos, the thresher, aka swiveltail, can be caught from just beyond the surf line out to 10 miles, making it a big game target for the small boat angler. Yeah, it’s caught farther out to mid-range depths, but for all intents and purposes during June, it’s an in close quarry. Threshers to 300-plus pounds are not uncommon, more than a few this size caught within sight of the sands.
The current state record is an eye-popping 683-pounds caught in 2009.
Although known more for its hernia-generating bulldog subsurface exchange and occasional breaching, threshers have been known to jump, maybe not as high as its pointy nose mako kin, but a launch nonetheless.
As per its diet, the thresher has a small mouth, and this looks weird considering its overall length. Although it will hit trolled bunker spoons (our faves are the Tony Maja 2 and 3), it’s primarily caught on bunker chunks or whole bunker.
When it comes to table fare, I’d put the thresher on par with the mako and swordfish.
There, I said it! The meat is firm, sweet and takes to baking, broiling and/or grilling in a
tongue-slap-your-brains-out dining experience.