Tough first day at WMO

The 42 out of 433 boats that fished during the first day of the White Marlin Open didn’t find much for the scales which closed at 9:15. The only white marlin brought in didn’t meet the 70-pound minimum, and there were only a few qualifying tuna.

Restless Lady 2 from Ocean City weighed a 114.5-pound tuna that might be around for a few days, while a 92-pounder was second and a 57-pound entry is third. Tomorrow will be unfishable, but the weather looks good after that.

World record $6.7 million purse as WMO opens

Despite the pandemic and a tropical storm moving up the coast, the 47th annual White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Md. is underway with 433 boats and a world record tournament purse of $6.7 million. The field for the 2020 WMO includes many top boats from last year’s fleet that set a tournament record of 1,429 white marlin releases.  

The ‘Big Deal” out of Brielle, N.J. will be defending the 2019 Top Boat award as will runner-up “Uno Mas”. Returning also are many of the top money winners of 2019.  The “Fish Whistle” out of Indian River, De. which won $1,504,000 last year for a 79.5-pound white marlin is back as is the “Backlash” from Virginia Beach that took second and $1,502,000.  Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club won $935,000 for the top tuna and returns to try to add to their winnings. Business was the white marlin winner at the recent Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational, and will try to repeat with big money on the board.

I was expecting a few boats to sail before the storm, but 42 did so. A few returned to the scales early to start filling the tuna leader board. Restless Lady 2 from Ocean City took the lead for $980,000 with a 114.5-pounder. Swords Fish from Indian River had a 92-pound entry for second and a potential $60,000. The center console Wet Rock had a catch of tuna which included a 56-pounder that made it over the 50-pound minimum.

I’ll have an update later tonight after the scales close. Tuesday will be a washout with a tropical storm warning in place for offshore S-SE winds at 35-45- knots and 11-19-foot seas before switching to SW 35-45. By Wednesday morning that will be down to SW at 5-15 knots with just 3-5-foot seas.

The inshore forecast is somewhat better as tonight’s SW gusts to 25 knots drop down before gusting to 35 knots SE in the afternoon with lots of rain and 9-15-foot seas. You can be sure that no one will be sailing.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands couldn’t duplicate yesterday’s decent fluking in a south wind due to a lack of movement. Most keeper fluke were just 18 inches except for a 4-pounder — and one limit was taken.

Sunday’s south wind didn’t bother Phil Fischer initially as he ran into breaking fish in Sandy Hook Bay. Nothing hit small lures trolled slowly until he picked up speed and started catching Spanish mackerel. The wind was fine for drifting rough bottom in the bay which produced a near-doormat 9 1/2-pounder though other keepers barely made it before the wind got too strong.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported Sunday’s southeast wind was no good for drifting or catching — and only a few fluke were caught. The Golden Eagle had a good Saturday, but Sunday and Monday were tougher for blues, chub mackerel, ling and fluke. However, they did release some black-tipped sharks today.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had to postpone the Tuesday tuna trip. Sunday’s inshore fishing was the first clunker in weeks with only a few Spanish mackerel.

Bob Correll reported that a cownose ray provided a surprise catch in the Bay Head surf for one angler this morning.

White Marlin Open starts tomorrow

The 47th White Marlin Open kicks off at Ocean City Maryland on Monday and runs through Sunday. Despite the tropical storm coming this week, there should be three good fishing days for the over 400 boaters to select.

The offshore forecast for Monday is marginal. Southwest winds at 10-20 knots with 3-5-foot seas and showers are predicted, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of boats taking a shot since there are daily cash prizes that may be won by any boat able to find a tuna, wahoo, dolphin or marlin.

The storm’s impact will be felt on Tuesday with south winds at 35-45 knots and 10-foot seas, but improves rapidly after that. It’s southwest at 10-15 offshore by Wednesday and dropping to 5-10 knots that afternoon.

Today’s south wind made for tough bluefishing on the Golden Eagle from Belmar. The seas were choppy, and fish reluctant to bite though some blues, chub mackerel, sea bass, ling and fluke were picked’

The surf was rough this morning as I briefly cast a popper at Sea Girt with no other anglers around. Bob Correll said he saw Spanish mackerel arching well out of range at Bay Head.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. was pleasantly surprised to find a decent bite of fluke on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands despite the south wind that usually turns them off. The pool winner was a 5-pounder

Tomorrow may be fishable inshore though the south wind has been gusting to 25 knots this afternoon. By morning it’s supposed to be down to southwest at 5-10 knots before increasing to 10-15 with gusts to 20 and 4-5-foot seas in the afternoon. By Tuesday evening it will be southeast at 35 knots.

White Marlin Open set to begin tomorrow in Ocean City, MD

Even the threat of a hurricane coming up the coast hasn’t bothered organizers of the 47th White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md. from gathering tomorrow for a captains meeting prior to Monday’s start of the big money event. The only concession to the storm so far has been extending fishing days through next Sunday. Contestants choose which three days they will fish.

Last year’s WMO drew 202 boats and a purse of over $6.25 million – but the pandemic and the storm threat may impact those figures.

Capt. Freddy Gamboa is coming in on a hot streak with Andrea’s Toy after a fine season of N.J. tuna action and the release last week of a blue marlin estimated at 500 pounds. He’s docked next to another strong competitor — Michael Jordan on his $8 million, 80-foot Viking, Catch 23. Jordon fished his first tournament in June at the Big Rock out of Morehead City, N.C., and weighed in a 442.3-pound .blue. A great catch, but short of Strike Hunter’s 495.2-pounder in an amazing finish in which less than one pound separated the top three entries.

Gamboa also reported on Facebook about another great catch last week as follows: “Had Dan and Anthony back for second trip of the summer. Guys wanted a mixed bag, started off with a dozen mahi, then went on the troll, missed a few bites then saw a big Mako, asked the boys if they wanted to step up.” They sure did as a 650-pound mako was weighed in at Hoffman’s in Point Pleasant after a long battle. That’s the largest mako I’ve heard of this year.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said fluking on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands wasn’t up to mid-week standards due to poor conditions. He’ll be sailing in the morning, and then looking ahead at the forecasts day-to-day as the storm gets closer.

Sunday’s forecast is for south winds at 10-15 knots before increasing to 15-20 in the afternoon. Showers and thunder storms are possible.

Early entry for JCAA Heavy Hitter Fluke Tournament ends today

Though the annual statewide JCAA Fluke Tournament fell victim to the pandemic, that organization is going ahead with the Heavy Hitter contest that Paul Haertel started last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to promote that event before my computer went down — and the early entry for the Aug. 7 -9 fishing days ends tomorrow..

Anglers can fish only one day in any N.J. waters,and must declare for that day the night before by text or e-mail. The total weight of three fluke determines the winners. There is no captains meeting or awards party due to the virus. There’s a $5,000 first prize and many Calcuttas that may be entered. The $125 early entry must be postmarked by Aug. 1, and the fee goes to $150 after that. For details visit jcaa.org, or call Paul at 973 943-8201.

The fluke all those anglers will be looking for next week was caught yesterday in Sandy Hook Bay. The Tackle Box in Hazlet reports “Inny P.” boated a 10-pound doormat from his kayak while fishing with a bucktail teaser rig.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported a 9 1/4-pound pool winning fluke yesterday when “many” 4-5-pounders were caught among the shorts.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant hit it right on their Tuna Tuesday trip as a dozen yellowfins up to 70 pounds were caught. Two were on bait, but the rest were jigged. They have space on tuna trips set for Aug.25 and Sept.15. Lots of blues up to a 4.5-pounder were jigged Thursday morning.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported limits of blues during Thursday’s trip along with some Spanish and chub mackerel plus bonito and sea bass. Bruce Tucker of Philadelphia won the pool with a 4.5-pound sea bass. Night bluefish trips will be run Friday and Saturday at 6:30 P.M. Reservations are being taken for 40-70-mile tuna trips on Aug. 2,3,9,10,and 17.

The only thing anglers at Point Pleasant Canal got this morning was wet! Fishing has been poor there for some time, but one angler hit a bite of blues and stripers the previous morning late in the tide. Unfortunately, the drizzle turned into rain before we could determine if there would be a repeat.

The marine forecast is for northeast winds at 5-10 knots, shifting to southeast in the afternoon.

51’st Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational was a success

Thanks to my daughter Cyndi in Florida, I’m back in business with a new computer after the last one died a couple of weeks ago. Sorry that I haven’t been able to read, or reply to, any e-mails — and my cell phone was having problems at the same time. The Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational kicked off the mid-Atlantic marlin tournament season by attracting 28 boats which competed in the 51st edition of that contest which had a purse of $114,000. Business was the White Marlin Champion with three releases worth $19,000. Sun Runner trolled the big fish of the tournament with a 133-pound bigeye tuna that payed off at $40,000. Other big winners were Cap’t Rub at $26,000 for a 55,2 -pound yellowfin tuna — and Jersey Nutz with 46 and 52-pounders that won $17.000.Next week’s big money Ocean City White Marlin Open in Maryland has been extended through that Sunday due to the possibility of a tropical storm during the week. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported very good fishing today, with lots of variety. In addition to the targeted bluefish, there were both Spanish and king mackerel plus bonito, chub mackerel and sea bass. The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands reported some fares caught more than one fluke today as John Brock took the pool at 5 13/16 pounds. Friday’s forecast is for northeast winds at 10-15 knots, dropping to 5-10 in the afternoon. Showers and thunder storms. Please the following that I couldn’t eliminate.

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Waiting on new technology

For those of you who have been wondering where the updates have been, my father’s computer has left him out of commission for the past few days and likely for the week to come. We are in the process of acquiring a new laptop for him. In the meantime, please feel free to call him with all of your reports and we will see what we can do about getting a blog together in the meantime. Please keep in mind that he DOES NOT have access to his email – so by phone is the best way to get to him.

So while we wait for technology to catch up to the 84 year old, keep those lines tight and the reports coming!

Raritan Bay Anglers postoned Fluke Tournament to Sunday

It’s unusual for a fluke tournament out of an inshore port to be postponed, as there’s always someplace to fish for fluke in protected waters, but that’s what the Raritan Bay Anglers did with their 30th annual fluke contest.

I didn’t receive a press release about that contest, but became aware of it when fluke pro dave Lilly called after Thursday’s captains meeting to inform me that those seeking a postponement so the ocean might be fishable after the tropical storm outvoted those willing to settle the contest in Raritan Bay today. Big swells are bad news for an ocean fluke

Blue Marlin World Cup press release

Below is the official press release from the July 4 event


964-Pound Fish Caught in Cape Verde Islands 
Wins the2020 Blue Marlin World Cup
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic, 116 teams competed in the 2020 Blue Marlin World Cup Tournament, a one-day event held around the world. Blue marlin weighing more than 500 pounds are the only eligible species and competing teams fish in their respective time zones from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Entries are weighed on certified government scales at local marinas.
The first qualifying fish reported to Tournament Director Robert “Fly” Navarro was hooked four minutes into the team’s allowable time frame. Lady Rebecca (Capt. Stephen Brexel), fishing from Boat Harbour in The Bahamas, got on the leaderboard with a 504-.8-pound entry. Although it was later topped, that catch represented a victory for the island nation, which is still recovering from last year’s devastating Hurricane Dorian. 
Blue Rampage was the second to record a qualifier with a 545-pound blue landed in Portugal. The boat typically fishes in Madeira, an historic big fish hot spot, but virus travel restrictions forced Capt. Gerhard Drescher and his crew to stay in their home waters. 
Previous World Cup Champion and million-dollar winner Done Deal, a 70 Viking run by Capt. Jason Buck, also stayed near home, focusing on the productive central Gulf of Mexico. Capt. Wilks Hammock was in the chair to wind in the boat’s 667.2-pound blue. That fish, which measured 120 inches from the lower jaw to the fork of the tail, was weighed at the Cypress Cove Marina in Venice, Louisiana. 
As multiple contestants released smaller blue marlin throughout the day, Navarro got word from several sources that a serious contender had been boated. La Onda Mila was fishing in the Cape Verde Islands for this year’s World Cup. Sam Peters, president of Release Marine, had booked the boat and competed with Capt. Marty Bates previously. But when Peters couldn’t fly to the islands because of virus restrictions, another local skipper, Olaf Grimkowski, took his place. Grimkowski cranked in a qualifier that measured 142 inches long, with a 70-inch girth and a 19-inch tail measurement. After a three-hour return trip, that fish would tip the scales at 964 pounds to earn the 2020 World Cup title and $464,000. Done Deal would claim the Big Blue Challenge consolation prize of $339,200.

The Tournament entry fee for the World Cup is $5,000 per team. The optional Big Blue Challenge (BBC) is an additional $8,000. There is a winner for the Tournament and the BBC.  If the team with the biggest blue is entered in both categories, they take home all the money in this winner-take-all format. La Onda Mila did not enter the BBC.
The corona virus created very unique circumstances this year. The travel restrictions impacted several teams. Normally Hawaii and Bermuda are popular World Cup destinations, but this year a number of teams fished closer to home or were not able to enter the Tournament. We had 11 boats competing from Cape May, Ocean City and North Carolina. The Gulf of Mexico fielded 34 teams, the most of any area worldwide. Although the Tournament expected a big drop in overall participation, the total number of entries was only down 23 percent.  A number of participants expressed their thanks that they were able to maintain some sense of normalcy in their lives by being able to fish the 2020 Blue Marlin World Cup. All things considered the 2020 World Cup was a resounding success! Due to this success, the Tournament can continue its support of the IGFA and The Billfish Foundation by contributing to their ongoing conservation work.
Next year’s Blue Marlin World Cup will be held July 4, 2021. For more information or to register, please visit: www.bluemarlinworldcup.com

Sorry for last night’s computer problem. Today is a blowout with Tropical Storm Fay working up the coast, but there was some good fishing esterday. Kevin Kuriawa and his brother Mikee were limited on fluke out of Manasquan Inlet by 10:30 and also released shorts, but the big thrill for Mike was seeing his first whale blow up close to the boat.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had small blues chasing bait around the boat as fares limited on both them (5) and sea bass (2). There were also some Spanish mackerel, fluke and ling.