Right from the start of The MidAtlantic this week, the forecast for the final day on Friday was for beautiful weather and light winds. Therefore, all 157 boats entered in the tournament out of Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland saved Friday for their last shot with everything on the line and all the possible award openings clear.
There’s only one huge opening as no one has been able to find a blue marlin weighing at least 400 pounds. Goin’ In Deep from Brielle won that category last year with a 680-pounder, and added the winning 184-pound tuna, both on Day 4, to win $1,110 634. They’ll surely be looking to duplicate that achievement as they presently only have bigeyes of 104 and 110 pounds which are behind the tuna leaders of 116 pounds on Da Sea, and 114 pounds on both Blue Runner and Toddy Time.
The two 73-pound white marlin caught by 3’s Enough and Special Situation remain on top in the richest category that was won last year by a last day 75-pound white that earned $796,509 for Waste Knot. Gusto moved into third yesterday with a 69-pound white.
The 43-pound dolphin weighed in by First Light is most likely to remain there, though The Natural was pushed out of second with a 33-pounder as Espadon weighed a 34-pound dolphin yesterday. The Zipper is looking good in wahoo with a 71-pounder, but Contrail took over second yesterday with a 49-pounder.
Billfsher went into the last day with a big lead in most points overall at 1507. Give It Away, Texas Tea and Pipe Dreamer are closest at 900 points. Billfisher is also far ahead in most points for white marlin at 1275 — followed by Pipe Dreamer with 900 and Canyon Lady at 825. Rhonda’s Osprey, Southern C’s and Shelly II all have two releases for 300 points in the blue marlin points category. Blue Runner leads in tuna points with 237.5 over 131 by Reel Estate.
I’ll have a late blog after the scales close at 9 p.m. to update the results.
There was a big turnaround on fluking at Atlantic Highlands today. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen had written a very negative report yesterday after three days of terrible conditions for fluke, but then declared today the best of the season. There was a modest .8-knot drift in contrast to the prior 2 knot drifts — and no swell. Many limits were bagged, and John Froelic jigged over 25. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a similar report of much better fluking on his Sea Hunter with many legal fish such as the one below.
At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported many fluke limits today with a pool fluke of about 9 pounds. They will sail at 6 a.m. over the weekend,
The Golden Eagle had plenty of sea bass and chub mackerel plus several 3-to-5-pound bonito and about a dozen fluke.
The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had better fishing today with lots of chub mackerel, sea bass and bonito before 11 a.m. — and then a pick of 2-to-5-pound blues with a high hook of eight in the afternoon.
Allen Riley and John Mazzeo from South Plainfield checked the Sandy Hook surf this morning along with Duke Matero and Dan “The Tinman” Brodzinsky from Piscataway — and Marc Foley of Hawthorne. They were impressed with the mass of small bait being hounded by snappers large enough to catch on small metals. Those snappers were spitting up rainfish, spearing and peanut bunkers. Riley tried a Tsunami Swim Shad, but the snappers chewed he tail off. He and Marc snagged into 5-to-10-pound cownose rays. Only Dan managed to jig some short fluke with one of his bucktail creations.
There wasn’t any sign of bait in the surf I fished this morning north of Manasquan Inlet, but a 21-inch striper blasted my Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper almost in the wash and soared three feet in the air for a rare striper jump.
Vinny D’Anton fished a few beaches further north and released four schoolies on his Chug Bug.
Capt. Vinny Vetere had his best live bunker fishing of the season on Thursday with his Katfish Charters from Great Kills. After a long run he got into 25 bass up to the 25-to-30-pound class. He used the big boat today for a six-man party to make the long run into Long Island Sound for a boat limit and releases. (photo at bottom of blog)Vetere may have room for two walk-ons Saturday — and is available for charter on Sunday.
Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports:
A recent highlight for the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association was the annual John Koegler Memorial Junior Mates Fishing Tournament. Over 20 junior mates spent fished on several of the boats of the association followed by a party and awards ceremony at the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club.
Mate Max Goldman took top honors in the contest with his 5.48-pound fluke. All mates received fishing gear to mark the occasion along with a beautiful rod and reel compliments of Canyon Reels and the Koegler family.
Captain Ray Lopez had the Janice Yates family on the “Miss Liane” for a fluke and sea bass trip. The family enjoyed non-stop action, with several keepers in the box. Happy birthday to Rich Yates! On another trip Captain Ray had the Tabacco family out for an action packed day on the water. Throughout the trip the crew caught fluke, sea bass and blues taking home enough fish for dinner.
Captain John Lewis of the “Insatiable” reports another good week with good numbers of fluke and sea bass with the average size of the fluke increasing. He has also been catching baby brown sharks around 3-feet long that are promptly released.
In addition to the inshore action on fluke and sea bass, the bay waters have started producing large numbers of panfish. Mixed in with the small bluefish, sea bass, and blowfish have been black drum up to 20 pounds along with some sheepshead and triggerfish.
The members of the BHCFA were saddened to learn of the passing of Captain Brant Whittaker, who was one of the captains of the “Miss Beach Haven” fleet. Captain Brant was an excellent captain. Condolences are extended to his family.