As this is being written, every one of the 80-boat field with a fishing day left in Jimmy Johnson’s second Quest for the Ring Tournament out of Atlantic City is either cruising back to the shoreside festivities or to the final weigh-in — while a few are hoping that their current leaders won’t be knocked off the scoreboard.
Marlin are the stars of his contest, but there haven’t been many of them.
A 437-pound blue was boated by Devin O’Neill on TLC the first day, but that fish hasn’t been challenged since. Indeed, only two other blues have even been reported. It wasn’t until yesterday that an eligible white marlin made it to the scales. That 60.4-pounder caught by Jouber Pereira on Wet Rock Fishing is an obvious target for the fleet. The total of just 31 whites so far remains far below anticipations for that species which is normally abundant in the canyons at this time.
Even the smaller canyon targets have been relatively scarce, with a total through last night of just seven dolphin and three wahoo weighed in. The dolphin leader is a 27.1-pounder by Ken Wible on Low Profile, which is another likely target as it usually takes one at least in the 30’s to win major tournaments. The wahoo leader is also on the small side at 42.2 pounds by Darren Helwig on Roll Groove.
Most of the action has been in the tuna category, with 42 weighed so far. Most of those have been yellowfins under 70 pounds, but the larger ones are almost surely bigeyes. Tournaments only list them as tuna, but yellowfins over 100 pounds are noteworthy in the Atlantic though common in the Pacific. A prominent exception is the rare “Allison” which has extended fins and was thought to be a different species until scientists declared it to be only a variation of yellowfins. I ran a canyon charter out of Point Pleasant many years ago when a mystery fish exploded on a high -speed lure and fought just like a large bigeye before it was alongside and revealed its brilliant colors. It weighed 180 pounds and won the N.J. state tournament in that category.
Brandon Kape has led the Quest right from the start with a 231-pound tuna on Taylor Jean/MJ’s, as Hunter Gutwein took over second at 223 pounds on Just One More — and Frank Giordano added a 204-pounder on Touch of Grey. I’ll publish the results in another blog tonight.
The last chance to compete in this weekend’s Sandy Hook Bay Anglers Two-Day Fluke Tournament is at the 7 p.m. captains meeting in the Atlantic Highlands Marina Senior Citizen’s Building.
The weather looks great with southeast winds at 5-10 knots.
Capt. Ron Santee reported a second day of good fluking on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. One fare had his limit from six legal fluke, and there was lots of short action.
The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a good early bite of 2-3-pound blues plus a few to 6 pounds before they switched to sea bass and fluke.
If you don’t catch a fluke tomorrow, here’s your excuse! Photo by Tamara Ugaro