The 49th annual MidAtlantic fishing tournament is underway after captains meetings at Cape May, N.J. and the satellite port of Ocean City, Maryland. With marginal weather predicted for Monday, it’s likely that most boaters will save their first of three fishing days for what looks like better weather starting Tuesday. Jeff Merrill reports that over 150 boats will be fishing for over $3.5 million.

Many northern entrants left their boats in the southern ports after the recent White Marlin Open, but will have the option of fishing some of their “home grounds” that are barely within the limit of 125 nautical miles from the Cape May Sea Buoy. Relatively small bluefin tuna won at the WMO as the southern canyons failed to produce the bigeyes which normally provide the winning weights — and they may be more common to the north.

There are several big differences in the rules for this contest. The white marlin minimum is only 65 pounds instead of the 70 pounds at the WMO, and landings are controlled only by the Federal minimum length of 66 inches rather than the 68 inches in force at the WMO. More importantly, it’s only the Federal minimum of 99 inches which restricts blue marlin landings — though they must make 400 pounds to go on the board. The WMO minimum of 114 inches resulted in no blue marlin entries. There are no minimums for dolphin and wahoo, but tuna must be 50 pounds to count.

In addition to the positive

Today’s rainy, windy weather restricted fishing opportunities. The inshore forecast for Monday is north at 10-15 knots and gusts to 20 before gusting to 30 in the afternoon, Seas are 4-6 feet. The good news is that after that there isn’t a forecast of over 10 knots through Thursday.

In addition to the positive pre-contest marlin report from Canyon Lady that was noted in yesterday’s blog, Merrill reported that Rob Cola fished out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May two days last week to release two white marlin and a blue the first day — and two of each the next.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had decent fluke catches in the ocean last week on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but had to stay in the bay during Saturday’s northeast wind. That worked out well comfort-wise. but there were few legal fluke caught there — so he cancelled the Sunday trip in similar conditions.

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