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Sharks cooperate at IBSP

Conditions were good for fishing the bay side of Island Beach State Park last night, and Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant took advantage of hat situation to release seven up to a five-foot brown that he estimated at about 100 pounds. Maren Toleno, who makes the shark rigs sold at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park, added four shark releases (see photo at bottom) plus rays.

Fluking was hot today, at least in terms of the heat as skippers complained about the lack of a breeze that would have provided some relief. Capt. Ron Santee reported it was still a good day for John Froelich whose first fish on the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands was a 6.9-pound fluke and his next a 5-pounder.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said his customers worked hard for their fluke on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands, but were treated to whales and dolphins feeding. Sharon Lisa of Philipsburg won the pool. Sharon with EBII fluke

Bluefish once again made a move into Shark River just as party boats were coming through. Vinny D’ Anton had already caught stripers on his Chug Bug before adding blues which he said were bigger than yesterday’s 3-pounders. Indeed, that’s what I expected and was surprised when my first of five releases was two-feet long. All of them were likely easy pool winners on the bluefish party boats.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into small blues in the ocean, but they were hard to hook. Some fares managed 9 to 10, and they also had some bonito and little tunny. After that the Golden Eagle  added a boat limit of sea bass (two per man) that included what was reported as a 6-pounder. If the weight stands up and the angler is a Fisherman magazine subscriber that will put him in the sea bass lead (over a 5.85-pounder from New England), in the coastal Dream Boat Fishing Challenge. Some fluke were also caught.

Capt. Vinny Vetere reported he was back into the “big girls” again today with his Katfish from Great Kills as mate Percy Wentworth netted lots of bunkers with the castnet he makes that enticed stripers from 20 to 42 pounds. He’s open the rest of the week.
Lasko shark.jpg

Great weather — and blues are back

It may have been a scorcher on land this afternoon, but it couldn’t have been nicer when I joined Chuck Many on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands at noon. A light south wind kept it just cool enough despite the 82 degree water temperatures   — even up in New York Harbor.  On the way up we came across surface action for the first time this summer, but it was all 1-to-2-pound bluefish. There were no other boats around, and we could have caught them in unlimited numbers but didn’t see any signs of bonito. Spanish mackerel or kittle tunny.

Shore party boats caught small blues in good quantity today. The Big Jamaica from Brielle reported adding dolphin, bonito, fluke, sea bass, and chub mackerel. Pool winners this week included Sam Florea of Reading, Pa, with a 6-pound bonito, and Ryan Romanowski from Gilbertsville, Pa. with an 8.2-pound fluke.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had blues up to 5 or 6 pounds in the morning — though most were 2 to 3 pounds. They then added some sea bass, bonito, small dolphin and keeper fluke.

Small blues also invaded Shark River. Vinny D’Anton said it was slow there early, but both small bass and 3-pound blues started rolling on bait even as party boats were going through. He released nine bass plus blues on the Chug Bug.

There was plenty of fluke action for the Atlantic Highlands fleet. The Sea Hunter reported steady short action with keepers mixed in. One fare caught 30 fluke with three being keepers. The pool winner was 6.1 pounds. The Fishermen had several fluke from 4 to 7.12 pounds. Joe Sullivan was back to catch over 25 fluke up to one just over 6 pounds.

Many’s  big bass plans were turned aside when we couldn’t net bunkers in mid-day, though we did snag a couple on the way north and I lost one bigger bass on live bunker in the Hudson before we moved to the East River. Sandworms produced steady action with school stripers and we ended releasing 31. We had to fish through lots of porgies and tiny sea bass later while trying for a Hudson weakfish though I did release my first of the season — a 25-incher.

Al-25-inch weakfish.jpg

Jamaica II had a great week with fluke

Ocean fluking really opened up last week for the Jamaica II from Brielle as per this report from Capt. Ryan Bogan:
“Excellent fluke Fishing this past week and BIG fluke is the name of the game. There were 3 10-plus pounders caught last week:
Carl Shimkus Phila, Pa 10.1 pounds
Ron Rogers Toms River, NJ  10 . 3 pounds
Kathleen Wojclya  Toms River, NJ  10.8 pounds  caught Friday Aug 24th on the PM trip
Lot of 5,6, 7 and 8 pound fluke also caught last week -check our webpage and Facebook page for up to date daily pictures and reports.
One afternoon trip this week, was an example of the great fishing veteran Jamaica II angler 84 year old Ray Bryant of South Orange NJ as his first 3 fish of the afternoon weighed 6.6,  6.9,  and 6.1 pounds. Now that’s some great fluke fishing.
Lots of limits and some hefty sea bass being caught also.
Kathleen’s fish was caught on a rental rod with boat supplied bait. We use Gulp swim mullets on our rentals so EVERYONE on board is catching and not just the regulars.
Half Day fluke/sea bass daily except Mondays sailing at 8 am and 2 pm.
All Day fluke every Monday 7:30 am till 4:30 pm”
The Big Jamaica sent an early repot of good action with blues, bonito, sea bass, fluke and chub mackerel plus even dolphin.
dolphin on Jamaica
The Manasquan River Marlin & Tuna Club’s 38th Offshore Open is off to a good start with several entries in the 8/25 to 9/2 contest in which boaters may fish two day trips or one overnighter. Charles Heil got a jump on the field with a 75.75-pound tuna that leads a 71.65-pounder on Marshall Allegra’s Internal Fixation. Capt. Fred Gamboa put a 70.65-pound tuna on his Andrea’s Toy, and Douglas Johnson’s Double D has a 68.10 pound entry.
 Steve Matthews has the lone blue marlin release on Pepper, but Jason Parker’s Reel Steel has released 14 white marlin. Brian Kimmell’s Flying Tiger leads in dolphin at 22.75 pounds..
Capt. Dave Riback was happy with small blues plus some bonito hitting jigs this morning on his Queen Mary from Point Pleasant before getting into all the chub mackerel his fares wanted — and then  the “surprise of the season” as 50 dolphin were caught.
At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen reported a lack of drift to start the day though jig fishermen did well with fluke from 3 pounds up. Young Edwin Jones boated a 7.9-pounder at the end of the day to win the pool. Joe Sullivan caught over 20 fluke in the bow, including two over 4 pounds. The Angler reported jigs were hot Sunday as 25 fluke over 4 pounds and six over 7 pounds were caught. The Prowler had good Sunday fluking on both trips as French Ruffin of Teaneck had a 7.9-pounder during the day while Cole Devaney from Middletown hooked a 8.4-pound magic hours fluke.
The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported very good sea bass fishing along with some blues and fluke.
Capt. Vinny Vetere said the weekend boat traffic made it tougher to catch stripers, but he still had 16 up to 32 pounds on Saturday — though nothing over 24 pounds on Sunday. He’s open with Katfish from Great Kills from Thursday into the weekend.
Pilotfish or banded rudderfish? Allen Riley and John Mazzeo of South Plainfield fished this morning at Sandy Hook along with Dan Brodzinsky from Piscataway as they once again found a calm surf along with loads of bait being pushed by snappers and some small blues. John caught a blue pushing 3 pounds on his live snapper bait.  Just as on Friday’s trip, Allen caught 6-to-8-inch banded fish he identified as pilotfish while casting a small metal for the snappers. Boaters often see those members of the jack family under their boats or around ocean buoys at this time of year, though they’re hard to distinguish from another small member of the family — the banded rudderfish.  The latter has a black line on the head through the eye just like its close relative the much larger amberjack. Allen sent along this file photo of a pilotfish.
Frank Huza of Aberdeen was kayacking well up in Manasquan River this morning and passed along the good news that there were loads of mullet there waiting for the first cold snap to send them out to the surf. That’s just what we need now to spark a striper feeding surge as there wasn’t much action from shore today.
I fished Shark River this morning and caught a school striper on a Z Man Swimmereez jig, but never had another hit. After finding nothing at Manasquan, Vinny D’Anton moved north and had his Chug Bug attacked by a large  fish that cut him off — almost surely a rare large bluefish.  Vinny didn’t get reports from his associates of any bass hooked in the surf today. The light swell and lack of whitewater may have something to do with that. But it was perfect for fluking, and he started getting hits from small fluke on a Storm Sand Eel before a snapper clipped the tail. I released a 17-inch fluke on a Storm Searchbait jig before leaving, but Vinny stayed and caught the fluke he was seeking for breakfast — a 20 1/2-incher plus several shorts.

Be careful releasing summer stripers

As Chuck Many proved Saturday on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands, that there are decent numbers of striped bass available in NY/NJ Metropolitan waters even in August — but great care must be taken in releasing them. Water temperatures in the Hudson River were down to 77 degrees yesterday, but have been over 80 degrees lately.

Tired stripers often turn belly up upon release and must be worked with to ensure they can swim down. We only had a problem with one small bass out of 32 releases yesterday, and Many had to release air from its belly with a needle even though it was caught in just 40 feet. All of our larger bass went  down after being quickly released with a forceful head-first return. Keep an eye out to be sure the bass doesn’t pop up and have to be netted again in order to get the air out. The bass in my hands is ready to be plunged head first back into the river.Al with Hudson striper


Even when the coastal migration from the larger spawning grounds in Chesapeake and Delaware bays is a disappointment, as was the case this spring, the Hudson bass can save the season.  Successfully releasing those spawning-size fish is especially important.

There were mixed reports today about fluking from the Raritan Bay fleet. The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported slower fishing due to a strong current, though one limit was boated. Capt. Stan Zagleski said the current wasn’t a problem on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands, and they were able to fish with the lighter tackle for some limits. Once again, Spros and larger Gulp produced most of the keeper fluke up to a 6 1/8-pounder by Ken Peters of Springfield.

EBII fluke

At Belmar, Miss Belmar Princess saw bunkers and small blues on the surface, but the blues weren’t hitting on slack water. They then switched to sea bass, fluke and some chub mackerel. The Golden Eagle reported catching “huge” sea bass. They have room on the first canyon tuna trips coming up on September 10 and 16.

Bob Matthews reports several doormat fluke being weighed at Fisherman’s Den. Tom Clayton of Wall boated a 12 1/2-pounder in Shark River Inlet. Raymond McCraney of Fords boated a 10 1/2-pounder offshore, and Sue Mihail of Newton caught 7-and-10-pounders  from the Den’s rental skiffs. Matthews says live snappers have been producing the largest fluke — and there are plenty of them available.

The Big Mohawk had good fluking today, including a 9.13-pounder. They’ll be sailing at 6 a.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Matthews also noted that small blues are starting to pop up in many areas. The Deal surf was a hot spot Saturday evening.

Bob Correll of Bay Head was taking in the sun around 3 p.m. yesterday at his local beach when small blues suddenly showed up under birds. He had to remove his teaser to reach them and catch four before the school moved on. The south wind was harder this afternoon, and there was no repeat of that action.











Who says there are no NJ stripers in August?


Chuck Many of Annandale usually avoids fishing weekends with his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands, but he had time to go today and took advantage of it. Adult bunkers were quickly located this morning, and Many only needed one castnet throw to fill the live well with all that would be able to survive in the warm waters. He moved up to the Hudson River where Alex Katyan and I had hits from stripers in the 20-pound class on almost every drop until the tide died — including this double just before being released along with all the other fish caught today.  After the bigger bass turned off, Many ran to the East River where we had action on sandworms though all of those bass were small  today.  When the unpredicted south wind came up it changed all of Many’s plans with wind against tide conditions — and we returned with the sun still high on the sky after releasing 32 stripers, 8 porgies, 3 small fluke, a tiny sea bass and my first sea robin of the year.


Alex & Al with Hudson stripers.JPG

Fluke fishing was good today for the Raritan Bay fleet. The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported there were many shorts with enough keepers mixed in. One fare who couldn’t catch a keeper yesterday returned to total three legal fluke plus 24 shorts.  The Fishermen had some anglers with three keepers plus sea bass — and there was a 7 3/4-pound pool winner.

The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands reported a great start by John Vanderstad of Pompton Lakes who limited up to 8 1/8 pounds by 8 a.m. — but was later tied for the pool by Steve Herczegh of Spotswood.

Pool fluke on Elaine B II

The Golden Eagle from Belmar found some blues this morning and managed about 20 before adding sea bass and chub mackerel plus a couple of 3-4-pound fluke.

Final MidAtantic press release

Following is the final press release by Jeff Mefrill on the 2018 MidAtlantic.

For Immediate Release

August 25, 2018


2018 MidAtlantic Comes to a Close in Record Setting Fashion!


The 2018 MidAtlantic, the 27th edition of sportfishing’s “Main Event,” came to an exciting close last night for the 157 participating boats and crews with award ceremonies featuring lavish buffet dinners and record cash payouts for numerous winners celebrated at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. The week saw numerous records set once again including a cash purse of well over $3.36 million up for grabs, record single payouts for the top winners in the white marlin and tuna categories and a record number of blue marlin (55) caught and well over 750 white marlin released!


The final day of the 2018 MidAtlantic dawned sunny and clear with a light breeze and full moon in the sky.  Once again, a bit of tournament history was set as for the first time in the event’s 27-year history the entire fleet of 157 boats was eligible to fish on the final day.  Day Five saw several changes on the leaderboard on what has traditionally been called Moving Day at the MidAtlantic.  This event was the first billfish tournament to use the phrase in reference to the major shake-ups which occur on the leaderboard and this year would be no different.  Sea conditions improved dramatically from the previous day and the billfish bite continued its scorching pace.


The most significant changes occurred in the white marlin category when Captain Doug Ortlip backed Sean O’Donnell’s Cape May-based Got Game to the scales at Canyon Club in Cape May and weighed a 78-pounder for angler O’Donnell to jump to the top of the leaderboard.  O’Donnell and crew later in the evening accepted the winner’s check of $905,408 in Cape May, a record payout for white marlin!  Got Game’s 78-pounder pushed Thomas Colquhoun’s Special Situation from Ocean City, Maryland and Justin Branning’s 3’s Enough from Wall, New Jersey, leaders from Day One of the tournament, into a tie for second place as each had weighed white marlin of 73-pounds.  3’s Enough received $293,712 while Special Situation netted $134,006.  Worthy of note is the difference in payouts reflects the level of side bets, known as calcuttas, each participant enters.  Another significant change to the leaderboard on Day Five occurred when Captain Paul Robertson weighed a 69-pound white marlin for angler Joey Hurley from their Dayton,





Maryland-based FFMD and moved into a tie for third place with Leonard Tallo’s Gusto from Islamorada,

Florida.  For their efforts Gusto received $169,466 while FFMD netted $141,376.


A record setting 55 blue marlin were caught during the tournament and two were weighed on Day Five though both fell short of the event’s 400-pound minimum weight.  As a result, the blue marlin prize money was equally divided among the winners of the white marlin category.


Though numerous tuna were weighed on Day Five all fell short of the leaderboard.  Ed Dunn’s DA Sea from Grasonville, Maryland captured the top prize and a record payout $571,289 for their 116-pound big eye caught on Day Two.  Captain Mark DeBlasio’s Blue Runner from Manasquan, New Jersey and Chad Jackson’s Toddy Time from Ft. Meyers, Florida tied for second place with big eyes of 114 pounds which were both caught on Day Two.  DeBlasio received $209,260 while Jackson walked away with $114,790.  Third place and $16,807 went to Curtis Campbell of Baltimore, Maryland with a 111-pound big eye caught aboard his Reel Estate on Day One.


Jim Rodgers’ First Light from Hobe Sound, Florida took the heaviest dolphin award and won $27,847 for his 43-pounder caught on Day Two while John League of Annapolis, Maryland finished in second place aboard his Espadon with a 34-pounder caught on Day Four and took home $54,731.  Chuck Weishaar’s The Natural from Hampstead, Maryland had the third heaviest dolphin which was also caught on Day Two at 33 pounds and won $25,004.

Ed Zajdel of Ocean City, Maryland won the wahoo category with his 71-pounder caught aboard The Zipper on Day Two and received $19,787 while Michael Chase of Villanova, Pennsylvania aboard his Contrail finished in second with his 49-pounder caught on Day Four and took home $50,149.  Chase also weighed a 46-pounder on Day Five which moved him into a tie for third place with Joe Posillico’s Torta from Farmingdale, New York who weighed his 46-pounder on Day Two.  Posillico received $23,735 while Chase received and additional $18,753.


Some of the boats with significant billfish catches on Day Five include Art Kontos’ Let it Ride and Tim Tanghare’s Big Oil with eight white marlin released each while Michael Savino’s Texas Tea released seven white marlin.  Thomas Colquhoun’s Special Situation, Anthony Martina’s Sea Wolf and Anthony Matarese’s Reel Chaos each let go six white marlin.  Jeff Donohue’s Hatterascal released five white marlin while John Gudelsky’s Reel Joy, Patrick Kannan’s Waste Knot, Stephen Lewis’ MR Ducks and Tom Perry’s No Limits each released four white marlin. Larry Hesse’s Goin’ in Deep let go three white marlin and a blue marlin.  Jon Duffie’s Billfisher, Kenneth Hager’s Taylor Jean, Nick Rodriquez’s Par 5, Greg Hill’s Wanted and Edward’s Bondarchuck’s Moore Bills each released a blue marlin and a white marlin.  Mike Yacco’s MJ’s released three blue marlin while Don Haines’ Shelly II and Hank Draper’s Prime Hook each released two blue marlin and a white marlin.  Ed Dunn’s DA Sea and Bill Haugland’s Lights Out each released a blue marlin.


Cash Prize Winners

Please note well over 60 individual cash awards are possible due to the wide variety of calcuttas.  See below the payout for the species indicated and please note payouts vary by the number of calcuttas each participant enters.  It should be noted that no less than eight winners received a payout of more than six figures and an additional eight winners received payouts of $25,000 or more!


* Denotes tournament record payout


Heaviest White Marlin – 79 lbs. – Got Game – Sean O’Donnell – Cape May, NJ – $905,408*





2nd Heaviest White Marlin – Tie – 73 lbs. – 3’s Enough – Justin Branning – Wall, NJ – $293,712

Special Situation – Thomas Colquhoun – Ocean City, MD – $134,006

3rd Heaviest White Marlin – Tie – 71 lbs. – Gusto – Leonard Tallo – Islamorada, FL – $169,466

FFMD – Paul Robertson – Dayton, MD – $141,376


Heaviest Blue Marlin – No qualifying blue marlin weighed.  Prize money divided equally between white marlin category winners.


Heaviest Tuna – 116 lbs. – DA Sea – Ed Dunn – Grasonville, MD – $571,289*

2nd Heaviest Tuna – Tie – 114 lbs. – Blue Runner – Mark DeBlasio – Manasquan, NJ – $209,260

Toddy Time – Chad Jackson – Ft. Meyers, FL – $114,790

3rd Heaviest Tuna – Tie – 111 lbs. – Reel Estate – Curtis Campbell – Baltimore, MD – $16,807


Heaviest Wahoo – 71 lbs. – The Zipper – Ed Zajdel – Ocean City, MD – $19,787

2nd Heaviest Wahoo – 49 lbs. – Contrail – Michael Chase – Villanova, PA – $50,149

3rd Heaviest Wahoo – Tie – 46 lbs. – Torta – Joe Posillico – Farmingdale, NY – 23,735

Contrail – Michael Chase – Villanova, PA – $18,753


Heaviest Dolphin – 43 lbs. – First Light – Jim Rogers – Hobe Sound, FL – $27,847

2nd Heaviest Dolphin – 34 lbs. – Espadon – John League – Annapolis, MD – $54,731

3rd Heaviest Dolphin – 33 lbs. – The Natural – Chuck Weishaar – Hempstead, MD – $25,004


Atlantic Tackle Billfish Points Calcutta – Cape May

Most Points – 1275 – Big Oil – Tim Tanghare – Vincentown, NJ – $10,810

2nd Most Points – 900 – Canyon Lady – Jamie Diller – Stone Harbor, NJ – $6,486

3rd Most Points – 898 – 3’s Enough – Justin Branning – Wall, NJ – $4,324


Atlantic Tackle Billfish Points Calcutta – Ocean City

Most Points – 1650 – Billfisher – Jon Duffie – Ocean City, MD – $19,270

2nd Most Points – 1425 – Texas Tea – Michael Savino – Staten Island, NY – $11,562

3rd Most Points – 975 – Give it Away – Anne Aramendia – New Braunfuls, TX – $7,708


The following received calcutta winnings for various positions on the leaderboard during the tournament:

White Marlin

68 lbs. – Lucky Linda Jean – Andrew E. Hall – Chester, NJ – $27,040

67 lbs. – Tighten Up – Tighten Up LLC – Mount Airy, MD – $42,300



110 lbs. – Blue Runner – Mark DeBlasio – Manasquan, NJ – $38,258

110 lbs. – Goin’ in Deep – Larry Hesse – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – $46,530

108 lbs. – Killin’ Time – John Grimberg – Rockville, MD – $17,014

102 lbs. – First Light – Jim Rogers – Hobe Sound, FL – $10,979

100 lbs. – Blue Runner – Mark DeBlasio – Manasquan, NJ – $9,964

85 lbs. – M.R. Ducks – Stephen Lewis – Ocean City, MD – $10,979



27 lbs. – Rhonda’s Osprey – Joe Drosey – Ocean City, MD – $12,502

25 lbs. – Reelin’ Feelin’ – Adam Youschak – Wildwood, NJ – $4,982





19 lbs. – Pipe Dream – Ted Wills – Frederick, PA – $1,457


Point Winners (Trophies)

* Ties broken based on time of catch.

Most Points White Marlin – 1350 – Billfisher – Jon Duffie – Ocean City, MD

2nd Most Points White Marlin – 1275* – Big Oil – Tim Tanghare – Vincentown, NJ

3rd Most Points White Marlin – 1275* – Texas Tea – Michael Savino – Staten Island, NY


Most Points Blue Marlin – 600 – Shelly II – Don Haines – Berlin, MD

2nd Most Points Blue Marlin – 450 – MJ’s – Mike Yacco – Beach Haven, NJ

3rd Most Points Blue Marlin – 300 – Rhonda’s Osprey – Joe Drosey – Ocean City, MD


Most Points Tuna – 297 – Billfisher – Jon Duffie – Ocean City, MD

2nd Most Points Tuna – 237.5 – Blue Runner – Mark DeBlasio – Manasquan, NJ

3rd Most Points Tuna – 131 – Reel Estate – Curtis Campbell – Baltimore, MD


Most Points Overall – 1947 – Billfisher – Jon Duffie – Ocean City, MD


Worthy of note is a total of 818 billfish including 765 white marlin and 53 blue marlin were released which translates to a catch-per-unit-of-effort of 1.73 billfish per-boat per-day! That’s the second highest CPUE in the event’s 27-year history behind 2016 which saw a 1.78 CPUE with the same number of entries in the tournament.


2019 MidAtlantic Tournament Dates – August 18-23


As a reminder the 2018 MidAtlantic is accessible through the South Jersey Tournaments App. Be sure to download this free app today for your IOS or Android device from the Apple App and Google Play where you can see all the action from the entire week.


For further information contact Tournament Director Aaron Hoffman at 609-884-0177.  Be sure to visit the tournament’s official web site at where you’ll find all the facts, figures and information about this year’s event including a complete rundown of the winners, calcutta payouts, rules and points.  There’s also a link to purchase official tournament merchandise.  You can also review all the week’s action on Facebook at The MidAtlantic Tournament; on Twitter; @midatl and on Instagram; @themidatlantictournament.







Got Game weighs big winner

Considering the fact that every boat entered in the MidAtlantic out of Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland was fishing the final day, there really wasn’t much change  — except for the big winner as Got Game weighed a 78-pound white marlin to push back the 73-pounders by 3’s Enough and Special Situation that had been leading for days.


white marlin got game

The only other change was a most unusual one as Contrail weighed a wahoo again, leaving them with 49 and 46 pound entries trailing the 71-pound winner by The Zipper. Wahoo are an oddity in our canyons.

The contest closed without a blue marlin being weighed, and the other leaders hung on with Da Sea taking the tuna award at 116 pounds, and First Light prevailing in dolphin at 43 pounds.  I’ll publish complete results, including pay-offs. when official results become available.

All 157 boats in the hunt as MidAtlantic concludes today

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.

Lady with fluke on Sea Hunter

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.




L.I. Sound bass





More white marlin weigh-ins, but the two 73-pounders remain at the top

In the race for the million dollar white marlin at the MidAtlantic out of Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland there was no change today though 124 boats trolled the canyons. The two 73-pounders remain on top, but there were several close calls.

Gusto had barely made the board at the 65-pound minimum on Tuesday, but they tacked on four more pounds today — and that 69-pounder moved into third place by a pound over Lucky Lady Jean.  Two 67-pounders were weighed by April Fool and Lighten Up.

Once again there was no 400-pound minimum blue marlin to claim that money.

Espadon boated a 34-pound dolphin to move into second by a pound over The Natural, and Rhonda’s Osprey had a 27-pound dolphin that now stands fourth. Contrail weighed a 49-pound wahoo that’s second to The Zipper’s 71-pounder. 1 believe all of the 151 boats saved the last day to wind up the contest — and they’ve got perfect weather to make the final assault on well over a million dollars tomorrow.





$3,368,490 on the line during last two days of the MidAtlantic

After a Wednesday during which all 157 boats entered took a lay day for the first time in the event’s 14-year history, the MidAtlantic was back in action today and concludes tomorrow at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland as the distribution of the $3,368,490 purse will be determined.

Though the ocean looked good inshore yesterday, there was an offshore forecast of 20-30 knot winds. Running a canyon trolling tournament in hurricane season is always risky, but the MidAtlantic has been blessed with fishable weather after a northeast wind blew through before the first day. The first two days produced a remarkable release total of 387 white marlin and 16 blue marlin as 44 boats fished the first marginal day after the northeaster with good results — and 156 were out the next day  — as the contest averaged over two billfish per boat day.

There was also a showing of bigeye tuna after they had been absent at the recent White Marlin Open where the tuna awards went to modest-sized yellowfins.  Indeed, Capt. Mark De Blasio strained the scales Tuesday with five bigeyes on Blue Runner, and is in a second place tie with Toddy Time at 114 pounds – just behind the 116-pounder by Da Sea.  Though impressive, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in that category as the MidAtlantic record is a 254-pound bigeye on Bernard and Drew Dinardi’s Absolut-ly in 1993.

The big-money white marlin category got filled in quickly as two 73-pounders were weighed the first day by Justin Blanning of Wall, N.J. on 3’s Enough and on Special Situation.  Andrew Hall of Chester, N.J. moved into third Tuesday with a 68-pounder on Lucky Lady Jean — just ahead of Intents at 66 pounds and Gusto with a 65-pounder. None of those whites are sure things as the MidAtlantic record is 95 pounds by Topless in 2009.

Maybe I should send my wife, Kathy, down there to help out as her only white marlin was a trophy caught while sharking with me before we were married, when I kept my Mako 22 in Montauk. She hooked a white that took a small bunker drifted in Butterfish Hole. Even after being out of the water all day, it still weighed 99 1/2 pounds at Montauk Marine Basin — winning the Outdoor Life national contest that year.

As noted in yesterday’s blog, the blue marlin category remains wide open with a 400-pound minimum, despite all the smaller blues that have been released. The 43-pound dolphin by First Light appears to be the most likely entry to stand, though the contest record is higher still at 56 pounds on American Lady in 2010. The Zipper leads in wahoo at 71 pounds, which could stand even though it’s well below the MidAtlantic record of 97 pounds set by Joanna in 2009.

I’ll have a late blog with updates after the weigh-ins close at 9 p.m.

I was wondering about Climate Change this morning as I was shivering in a light jacket while casting a Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper into the surf  north of Manasquan Inlet. I’ve never before been chilled during an August morning on the beach, but that northwest wind was cool. A fat 23 1/2-inch striper hit the plug as I was about to lift it out of the water for another cast,  and I later also released my first surf bluefish of the year — a mere 17-incher.

Vinny D’Anton caught two small stripers nearby on a Storm Searchbait, and later moved further north to catch two more on a Chug Bug.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said the last two days have been windy, creating a fast drift that produced good action though not as many keepers (see below) as he’d like to see on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands.

Flike on Sea Hunter

Tank Matraxia and his Lyndhurst crew had good fluking off the Rockaways with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands as the seven anglers totaled 21 keepers from 19 to 23 inches with only a few shorts. Tank only put ALS tags into four fluke. He had a particularly good day catching six legal fluke. Surprisingly, there was almost no variety with only a couple of sea robins boated.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a fast drift to start, but it settled down for good sea bass and chub mackerel action plus some blues and fluke along with “some nice sharks”  — a notation I’ve never before seen from a party boat.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported a variety pick of blues, chub mackerel. sea bass, blues, fluke and bonito.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of fluke were caught in the surf Wednesday, particularly in Island Beach State Park. They note that the 6-inch Gulp produces more keepers though there’s less action.  Matt and Megan Roser show off their 2.1-pound blue and 1.6-pound fluke from IBSP on bunker and Gulp.

Kid's blue & fluke