40 22.925N / 73 48.708W
Nestled on the upper west end of the Mud Hole, 17 Fathoms is always mentioned by the top captains throughout the year. Water depth runs from 94 feet down to a fairly obvious 102 feet (actual 17 fathoms) but the immediate surrounding area can vary in depth 104 to 114 feet, and even drop down to 128 feet just within a half mile or less to the east.
What makes 17 Fathoms so fish-friendly is the combination of shifting water depths combined with the eclectic bounty of bottom structure that blankets the area. It’s a virtual rocky road of natural broken bottom, with stretches of mussel beds, barnacles, snails and clam beds. Then, on top of all the natural stuff, is a massive amount of man-made material around the area, most notably rubble from the construction of the Holland Tunnel and subway systems of NYC. The concrete rubble, and other assorted mix of structure at 17 Fathoms will rise to about 6 to 7 feet up off bottom.
Summertime bluefishing is top notch on both day and night trips to 17 Fathoms. June through August is prime time to bag bluefish from 10 to 20 pounds on metal jigs such as Ava A27 to A87 jigs, as well as Crippled Herring jigs to 6 ounces. Be sure to either use a 50-plus-pound mono leader or a steel wire leader to attach your jig to, otherwise, consider it gone. Night time trips revolve around the chunk bite with a nice, smelly bunker slick and an 8-inch steel-leadered 5/0 Mustad #92641 Baitholder hook with a 3- to 4-inch bunker back lanced on.
The place is also a bottomfisherman’s dream as the rocky structure seems to be a little more forgiving and is not as “sticky” to get snags out rather than getting them sawed off by sharp protrusions of rusted shipwrecks. In recent years, September through November seems to have huge dinner plate size porgies and black sea bass up to 4 pounds hanging around the rockpiles and a hi-lo rig equipped with snelled size #1 beak hooks tipped with clam bits will dial you into a cooler full of the pork chops and sea biscuits.
The abundant structure houses a formidable array of blackfish during the colder months of November through early January, as well as ling, when the water temperatures hover in the 42-to 50-degree range. If currents and water temps are favorable, cod of 8 to 15 pounds will colonize the area, with an occasional pollock, though you’ll probably have to fight through a plethora of radioactive sized conger eels that can stretch 5 feet long and go 25 pounds.
Bottom to top, 17 Fathoms is a top spot to put a bend in rod whether in the heat of the summer or chill of winter. Look for 17 Fathoms on your updated Navionics chart at 40 22.925N / 73 48.708W roughly 14.7 miles northeast of Shark River Inlet.