Following up my late night blog, the official press release from Jeff Merrill appears at the end of this blog as there was an exciting finish to the MidAtlantic. There were no blue marlin qualifiers until the last day, even though it was an exceptional tournament for blue marlin releases.
My unofficial record of having the largest blue marlin that never won a cent in this contest still stands. In 1996 I was fishing with Bernard and Drew Dinardi on their Ab-solutly when I boated a 503-pound blue which would often be a winner. However, that was a year of big blues, and we got knocked out of third place by the winner on the last day. The Dinardis did win the Blue Marlin Points Trophy as we also had a release, but I believe that was the only time a 500-pound blue didn’t win any money.
Particular congratulations are due to Haulin ‘n’ Ballin for following their blue marlin win at the White Marlin Invitational with another at the MidAtlantic. Though Uno Mas lost their white marlin weigh-in lead on the last day, they also had 10 releases the day their leader was caught – leading to easy wins in the most overall points and white marlin trophy races. — after having finished second among Top Release boats at the White Marlin Open.
The northeast wind that blew in today made it tough on boaters and surfcasters. I didn’t last long at Manasquan as even my 2-ounce Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. was buried in the white water even though it cast well into the wind. The forecast for Sunday is similar with a small craft advisory. The northeast wind will be gusting to 20 knots.
That didn’t bother the Jamaica from Brielle, as they had good jigging for small blues early before chumming to catch some bonito plus sea bass and a few more blues. Some fares had limits, and Jeffrey Wisher of Philadelphia won the pool with a 4 1/2-pound blue.
Jeff Merrill’s official press release follows:
A Dramatic Finish as White Marlin, Blue Marlin Dominate Final Day!
Several Tournament Records Broken as 2019 MidAtlantic Comes to a Close!
It was a day for billfish and another nail-biting finish at sportfishing’s Main Event as “Moving Day” once again lived up to its storied reputation on the final day of the 2019 MidAtlantic! This tournament has a long and exciting history of major changes to the leaderboard on the final day of the event and this year’s Day Five was epic to say the least as the leaderboard once again took a beating in two of its major categories. With a tournament record $3.52 million on the line it was sure to be an exciting finish to the 28thedition of the MidAtlantic and indeed it was!
A strong cool front moved through the mid–Atlantic region as 120 boats headed offshore in a moderate chop on Day Five though it didn’t seem to have much impact on the billfish bite. Going into the final day of the tournament the leaders of the white marlin category had to be a bit nervous as the entire fleet was well aware the top three billfish of 71 pounds, 68 pounds and 67 pounds on the leaderboard were definitely within reach. Additionally, although over four dozen blue marlin had been caught through the first four days of the event, finding one that could break through the tournament’s 400-pound minimum weight proved difficult.
The drama began early on Day Five under rainy skies as the tournament’s official weigh stations at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland opened at 5 p.m. Captain Rob Skillman had Edward Bondarchuk’s Lighthouse Point, Florida-based Moore Bills waiting at the scale in Ocean City and weighed a white marlin of 72-pounds for angler Dan Bannercon to temporarily take the lead for the heaviest white marlin. That lead alone atop the leaderboard was very brief however as shortly thereafter Captain Rhett Bailey maneuvered Alan Sadler’s North Palm Beach, Florida-based Intents to the same scale and weighed an identical white marlin for angler Michelle Keeney to tie Moore Bills. The drama continued when Captain Paul Robertson aboard his Fishing for MD radioed the same weigh station indicating he too had a white marlin to weigh for his angler Ken Garufi. As rain continued to fall the crews from Moore Bills and Intents held their breath as Fishing for MD’s white marlin was measure and lifted to the scale and weighmaster Frank Ingram yelled out the weight at 67-pounds. No other white marlin were weighed and as the scales closed at 9 p.m. the celebration got underway!
The final standings in the white marlin category found Moore Bills and Intents tied for the heaviest white marlin at 72 pounds and Intents received $527,977 while Moore Bills won $453,529. Brooks Smith’s Uno Mas from Stuart, Florida finished in third place with his 71-pounder caught on Day Three and received $111,288.
As noted earlier, no qualifying blue marlin had been weighed through the first four days of the tournament and many crews focused on that species on Day Five and the drama as fish were weighed was also intense as the standings changed quickly in this category as well. Captain Robbie Inglima had the Pipe Dreamer of Colts Neck, New Jersey’s Chip Caruso at the scale in Ocean City shortly after the 5 p.m. opening and put a 473-pounder on the board for Caruso, who was also the angler, to temporarily take the lead in the category. A little over an hour later, Ken Hager’s Taylor Jean based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey weighed a blue marlin of 452 pounds for angler Dave Mekendrick and temporarily moved into second place. The crews of Pipe Dreamer and Taylor Jean held their breath as they watched the weigh-in live via web cam from Cape May where Captain Shelby Myrick was backing Burke Wall’s Savannah, Georgia-based Trash Man to the scale with a blue marlin for angler Brian DeMille where Weighmaster Chris Booth noted the weight an yelled out “549 pounds” to the crowd of spectators at Canyon Club Resort Marina. However, a mere 10 minutes had barely gone by when Captain Howard Lynch pulled to the scale in Ocean City with Pasadena, Maryland’s Kristen Jezierski’s Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ to weigh a blue marlin for angler Zeb Zebley of 630 pounds, the heaviest blue marlin in the tournament.Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ received $556,365 for the heaviest blue marlin while Trash Man won $178,203 for the second heaviest blue marlin. For the third heaviest blue marlin Pipe Dreamer won $91,253.
The tuna category remained unchanged as the tournament drew to a close and a pair of big eyes of well over 200 pounds were hard to beat. Curtis Macomber of Berlin, Maryland aboard his Stalker weighed big eye tuna of 226 and 207 on Day Three and took the heaviest and second heaviest tuna in the category and received $802,275, a tournament record payout for a tuna winner! The third heaviest tuna belonged to Tommy Hancock of Isle of Palms, South Carolina on his Dem Boys and he received $147,353 for his 96–pounder which was caught on Day One.
In the dolphin category, Laytonsville, Maryland’s Todd Dickerson and his Top Dog and Baltimore, Maryland’s Curtis Campbell on Reel Estate finished tied for the heaviest dolphin at 33 pounds. Reel Estate’s dolphin was caught on Day One and Top Dog’s was caught on Day Two. Top Dog received $68,361 and Reel Estate won $34,474. Anthony Martina of Middletown,Delaware aboard his Sea Wolf finished with the third heaviest dolphin of 29 pounds which was caught on Day Three and received $12,586.
The wahoo division saw Newmanstown, Pennsylvania’s Ross Clubb aboard his Chain Reaction win the category with his 33-pounder which was caught on Day Two and receive $1410. Tucker Colquhoun of Ocean City, Maryland aboard Special Situation finished in second place and received $57,481 for his 29-pounder caught on Day One. Andy Schlotter of Hilltown, Pennsylvania on his My Time finished in third place and received $23,735 for his 28-pound ‘hoo which was also caught on Day One.
Some of the boats with significant billfish releases on Day Five included Luke Blum’s C Boys with five white marlin and one blue marlin released while Bob Genord’s Miss Victoria released five white marlin. Nick Neary’s Lit Up released four white marlin while Danny Veid’s Amarula Sun, Pat Healey’s Viking 72, Ted Wills’ Pipe Dream, Gary Stamm’s Buckshot and Anne Armendia’s Give it Away each released three white marlin. Matthew Weber’s Max Bet released two blue marlin and a white marlin while Mike Donohue’s Griffin released two blue marlin. Bill Haugland’s Light’s Out released a blue marlin and a white marlin. David Johnson’s JT, George Robinson’s Polarizer, Marty Judge’s Judge, Joe Robert’s Love Boat, Joe Rahman’s Auspicious, Anthony Matarese’s Reel Chaos and Alan Carter’s I-Carter each released a blue marlin.
A tournament record $3,528,760 was handed out to nearly three dozen various winners including seven checks of over six figures and another 17checks of $15 thousand or more! Prize money totals awarded to the winners vary based on the level of calcuttas entered by each participant and the heaviest fish in each category may not receive the largest payout. Worthy of note is an incredible 73 blue marlin were caught during the tournament with 68 released which is a new tournament record for both figures! Additionally, while not a record, 487 white marlin were released by the fleet of 156 boats fishing three days each which translates to just over one white marlin released per-boat per-day!
Cash Prize Winners
* Denotes tournament record payout
Heaviest White Marlin – Tie 72 lbs. – Intents – Alan Sadler – North Palm Beach, FL – $527,977
Moore Bills – Edward Bondarchuk – Lighthouse Point, FL – $453,529
3rd Heaviest White Marlin – Tie – 71 lbs. – Uno Mas – Sean Gallagher –Stuart, FL -$111,288
Heaviest Blue Marlin – 630 lbs. – Haulin’ n’ Ballin’ – Kristen Jezierski –Pasadena, MD – $556,365
2nd Heaviest Blue Marlin – 549 lbs. – Trash Man – Burke Wall – Savannah,GA – $178,203
3rd Heaviest Blue marlin – 473 lbs. – Pipe Dreamer – Chip Caruso – Colts Neck, NJ – $91,253
Heaviest Tuna – 226 lbs. – Stalker – Curtis Macomber – Berlin, MD
2nd Heaviest Tuna – 207 lbs. – Stalker – Curtis Macomber – Berlin, MD –$802,275* – total for both places
3rd Heaviest Tuna – 96 lbs. – Dem Boys – Tommy Hancock – Isle of Palms, SC – $147,353
Heaviest Wahoo – 35 lbs. – Chain Reaction – Ross Clubb – Newmanstown,PA – $1410
2nd Heaviest Wahoo – 29 lbs. – Special Situation – Tucker Colquhoun –Ocean City, MD – $57,481
3rd Heaviest Wahoo – 28 lbs. – My Time – Andy Schlotter – Hilltown, PA – $23,735
Heaviest Dolphin – Tie 33 lbs. – Top Dog – Todd Dickerson – Laytonsville, MD – $68,361
Reel Estate – Curtis Campbell – Baltimore,MD – $34,474
3rd Heaviest Dolphin – 29 lbs. – Sea Wolf – Anthony Martina – Middletown, DE – $12,596
Atlantic Tackle Billfish Points Calcutta – Cape May
Most Points – Tar Heel – Rob Mahoney – Manteo, NC – $10,810
2nd Most Points – 750 – JT – David Johnson – Mount Laurel, NJ – $6,486
3rd Most Points – 675 – Trust Me Too – Greg Lentz/Jim Foulke – Cape May, NJ – $4324
Atlantic Tackle Billfish Points Calcutta – Ocean City
Most Points – 1571 – Uno Mas – Brooks Smith – Stuart, FL – $23,030
2nd Most Points – 1050 – Billfisher – Judith Duffie – Gaithersburg, MD – $13,818
3rd Most Points – 965 – Auspicious – Joe Rahman – Wanaque, NJ – $9,212
The following received calcutta winnings for various positions on the leaderboard during the tournament:
68 lbs. – Judge – Marty Judge – Upper Marion Township, PA – $83,642
67 lbs. – Fishing for MD – Paul Robertson – Dayton, MD – $19,740
67 lbs. – Double Barrel – Nick Eubank – Boca Raton, FL – $$30,845
67 lbs. – Sea Mistress – John Raimondo – Avalon, NJ – $54,032
65 lbs. – Auspicious – Joe Rahman – Wanaque, NJ – $9274
452 lbs. – Taylor Jean – Ken Hager – Tinton Falls, NJ – $31,396
80 lbs. – Sushi – Charley Pereira – Nags Head, NC – $9274
79 lbs. – Blue Runner – Tom Kelly – Point Pleasant, NJ – $53,078
77 lbs. – Lucky Linda Jean – Andrew Hall – Chester, NJ – $19,928
72 lbs. – Viking 72 – Pat Healey – New Gretna, NJ – $23,876
57 lbs., 58 lbs. and 64 lbs. – Random Chaos – Michael Pintozzi –Langhorne, PA – $16,920
27 lbs. – Canyon Lady – Jamie Diller – Stone Harbor, NJ – $1660
27 lbs. – Trash Man – Burke Wall – Savannah, GA – $1660
27 lbs. – Big Deal – Ed Russo – Carlstadt, NJ – $1660
27 lbs. – Fish On – Todd Willard – Greenville, DE – $18,894
27 lbs. – Nasty Habit – Walter Koller – Westfield, NJ – $18,894
Point Winners (Trophies)
* Ties broken based on time of catch.
Most Points White Marlin – 1571 – Uno Mas – Brooks Smith – Stuart, FL
2nd Most Points White Marlin – 1125– Amarula Sun – Danny Veid – New Port Richey, FL
3rd Most Points White Marlin – 1050 – Billfisher – Judith Duffie –Gaithersburg, MD
Most Points Blue Marlin – 450* – JT – David Johnson – Mount Laurel, NJ
2nd Most Points Blue Marlin – 450* – Auspicious – Joe Rahman – Wanaque, NJ
3rd Most Points Blue Marlin – 450* – Love Boat – Joe Roberts – Cape May, NJ
Most Points Tuna – 216.5 – Stalker – Curtis Macomber – Berlin, MD
2nd Most Points Tuna – 142 – Blue Runner – Tom Kelly – Point Pleasant, NJ
3rd Most Points Tuna – 115 – Random Chaos – Michael Pintozzi – Langhorne, PA
Most Points Overall – 1571 – Uno Mas – Brooks Smith – Stuart, FL