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The story goes that the Chicken Canyon was named for offshore guys who were too “chicken” to make the run all the way out to the Hudson Canyon. At roughly 56 miles out of Manasquan Inlet, the Chicken Canyon is a solid spot to stop and fish exclusively, or on the way out or back from the Hudson Canyon, not only because of its deep cut and ledgy makeup, but in that the triple threat of the Bidevind, Texas Tower and Bacardi are only a short run east of the spot if you need to make a move.

By Nick Honachefsky
N39 47.2 / W72 59.1 (GPS and offshore chart courtesy of Captain Segull’s Sportfishing Charts)

The deepest point lies on the southeast side at roughly 240 feet, about 160 feet on the western edge and 180 feet on the eastern side with varying depths up and down in between. It’s also the next stop past the Glory Hole and the central location is prime time turf to target all the offshore species including mako sharks, threshers, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, mahi and skipjacks.

During July and August, water temps are generally in the mid to high 70s and the spot has become noted for the bluefin tuna bite on fish from 40 to 100 pounds as scallop draggers work their nets and the tuna follow behind gobbling down the remnants, trained like Pavlov’s dogs. Many bluefin seekers will barter goods like newspapers, beer or food to the scallopers in return for a bag of fresh scallops to use as hook baits to claim the bluefin. Anglers will also drop butterfly jigs or troll the area with cedar plugs, jets and spreader bars to knock out the tuna.

If warm water eddies sprout off the Hudson, yellowfin tuna will even move into the area. Sand eel schools, squid and mackerel are predominant baits. Tuna anglers look to find the thermocline and fish the depths where the break sits. Sharkers no doubt have plenty of luck drifting mackerel, bluefish and squid baits on long drifts over the ledgy areas and makos up and over 400 pounds have been taken here as recently as June of this year.

The Chicken Canyon is one of the hottest spots to hit during the summer months, and it is also a short distance from the ever popular Atlantic Princess wreck where tuna catches have become commonplace.

The label “too chicken to go to the Hudson” may just be a red herring as the Chicken Canyon many times will outproduce its bigger brother and you can find all your offshore pelagic opportunity in the area without blowing as much gas and time.

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