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No matter how old you are - age 5 to 85 - any local angler worth his salt has heard of the iconic Mud Hole.
By Nick Honachefsky

In my early years, I first remember reading about it in Bob Duffy’s old Star Ledger column, and the mention of the Mud Hole has continued as an almost weekly mainstay in Al Ristori’s articles for decades. Season after season, you see offshore reports in The Fisherman Magazine talking about the bite at the Mud Hole – especially in the summer and fall - but what exactly is the Mud Hole and why is it such a productive area?

The Mud Hole’s trench tells of the submarine Hudson River outflow to the continental shelf that was cut out tens of thousands of years ago. The deepest spot hits around 240 feet or so and ranges up as shallow of 80 or 90 feet. The Mud Hole is comprised mainly of a silty, muddy depository of outflow from the Hudson River system, though many structures exist in the form of shipwrecks and jettisoned material that provide habitat for myriad saltwater species.

In the “old days” up until the 1980s it was probably the most prolific area on the planet to catch whiting, which were decimated by small mesh draggers and are no longer around. Nowadays, it’s a bottom fisherman’s paradise, where pelagics such as tuna, mahi and wahoo visit during summertime when water temps hit the high 70s.

The BA Buoy on the northern tip of the hole marks the entrance of the Barnegat to Ambrose shipping channel. Toward the eastern end the monstrous 412-foot long Arundo wreck lies in 90 to 150 feet of water, strewn about like a virtual minefield of debris. Known as a bottom fisherman’s paradise, ling, cod, pollock meander about, but during fall, many anglers troll the area for bluefin tuna.

The Ayuruoca, also known as the Oil Wreck, was a 468-foot freighter that now lies in 170 feet of water, but comes up to 100 feet due to the highest point of the wreck, the crow’s nest, which stands like a sentinel outpost over the wreck. Codfish hang in the trucks scattered amongst military vehicles around the wreck. Another Mud Hole wreck is the IP Goulandris shipwreck, existing midway through the hole, which stretches 362 feet in length and lies in 190 feet of water; it is well known as a premier ling wreck as there are plenty of hiding spots for big baseball bat caliber ling to hide and lodge themselves into.

The Monster Ledge exists in 25 fathoms dropping to 40 fathoms where upwelling of nutrients for phytoplankton blooms, supports copepods and attracts baitfish, while the spot earned its name for the incredible shark fishing for makos, blues and threshers in days past, as well as giant bluefin tuna.

A well known bluefin tuna drift is to start at the Oil Wreck and troll/chunk out to Monster Ledge. All throughout the span of the hole, lobster pots line the edges where you can pick off mahi with a deftly cast bucktail or live peanut bunker or mullet. From the lowly ling to giant bluefin tuna (some of them true giants in the fall) the Mud Hole is a timeless place of saltwater activity and hopefully will continue to be for many years to come.

BA Buoy N40 20.072 W73 47.060
Mud Hole (middle) N40 10.000 W73 42.000
Arundo Wreck N40 09.847 W73 40.126
Monster Ledge N40 05.958 W73 34.041
Oil Wreck N39 14.742 W74 22.794

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