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.

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$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

Looking for a big blue marlin in the MidAtlantic

While the other categories have had entries, there’s a big hole in the MidAtlantic tournament at Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland waiting for a blue marlin of at least 400 pounds to be caught during the last two days of the contest. For the first time in MidAtlantic history, all 157 boats decided to take a lay day with fine weather forecasted for the next two days. That was surprising as there are daily awards that a boat could do very well with for almost anything caught. With no weigh-ins, there will also be no late blog.

There have been quite a few blue marlin releases, but none have been close enough to even bring to the scale. The old 300-pound standard from the early days of what was then called the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 might have made a difference.

In 1995, it seemed that giant blues were becoming more common. I was fishing with Bernard and Drew Dinardi on their Absolut-Ly in the contest on Aug. 24 when a big blue came out of nowhere in the afternoon as I was the only angler in the cockpit. After a good battle, I boated what turned out to be a 503-pound blue that was only good enough for third at that point, and got knocked off the board the last day when the new leader was weighed.

I believe that was the only blue marlin over 500 pounds in MidAtlantic history that never won a penny — though combined with a blue release it did earn the Blue Marlin Points Trophy for Absolut-Ly. The minimum was then upped to 400 pounds as a conservation effort. but giant blues aren’t always available.

It looked yesterday evening as if lightning may have struck twice for Joe Rahman of Wanaque as his Auspicious came to the scale. Rahman won over $900,000 at the White Marlin Open with a first day 881-pound blue that swept the category, but this time there was only a white to be weighed — and it fell just a pound short of the 65-pound minimum to get on the board.

The volume of billfish releases has been excellent so far. Among the top release boats yesterday were Rhonda’s Osprey with two blues and three whites;  Texas Tea and Espadon with a blue and two whites; Canyon Lady with eight whites; Buckshot and Lights Out with seven whites; and both Business and Big Oil with six whites.

Billfisher is the overall points leader with 1507, ahead of 3’s Enough at 823; First Light 688.5; and Trust Me Too plus Reel Joy at 675.

Billfisher is also way in front of white marlin points with 1275, followed by Reel Joy, Trust Me Too and 3’s Enough at 675. In the Blue Marlin Points race, Southern C’s and Rhonda’s Osprey each have 300. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Capt. Mark De Blasio brought in five bigeye tuna yesterday on Blue Runner from Manasquan to take a strong lead in tuna points with 237.5 over Reel Estate with 131. However his biggest tuna of 114 pounds was tied by Toddy Time for second — and Da Sea took over first with a 116-pound entry.

There was a huge change in dolphin as First Light weighed a 43-pounder that may be hard to beat, putting them 10 pounds ahead of The Natural. The first two wahoo were a 71-pounder on The Zipper and a 46-pounder by Torta.

Andrew Hall of Chester, N.J. took over third in white marlin behind the two 73-pound leaders as his Lucky Lady Jean weighed a 68-pounder. Intents at 66 pounds and Gusto at a just eligible 65 pounds also got on the board.

Some party boats also took another day off, but the Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a boat limit of sea bass along with chub mackerel — though not as many as yesterday. The Ocean Explorer did well with fluke as experienced anglers limited. Mostly NW winds of 5 to 10 knots with two-foot seas are in the forecast up to Sunday

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some cocktail blues were caught in the surf on metal yesterday, but fluking was the best bet.

Tom Spiller 23-inch 4.85-lb Tom Spicer beached this 23-inch, 4.85-pound fluke and weighed it Grumpy’s Tackle.

Despite a swell more pleasing to surfers, the surf at Manasquan was very fishable this morning though I never raised anything to a T.A. Bomb Jr. popper.

The Canyon Runner fleet at Point Pleasant has room on an open night chunking trip over the weekend. The cost per angler is $899 that covers everything– including food, drinks and tip.  Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.  Below is a Canyon Runner shot below of life in the canyons — whales, dolphins (mammals), tuna, shearwaters and tuna chicksCanyon Ruunner canyon life

 

 

 

Bigeyes scramble tuna standings at MidAtlantic

With 146 boats fishing today in the MidAtlantic out of Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland there were bound to be changes — and they sure happened in the tuna division  as well as in dolphin and wahoo.

The bigeyes that were missing a couple of weeks ago in the White Marlin Open have been popping up during the first two days of this event. Blue Runner came to the scales with five bigeyes this evening, but the largest was just 114 pounds which matched a bigeye on Toddy Time while barely short of the 116-pounder on Da Sea. With three days to go, I expect there will be more tuna changes coming.  Reel Estate, yesterday’s leader, fell to a tie for fourth at 110 pounds with Blue Runner’s second bigeye.

The dolphin category was turned upside down as First Light weighed a 43-pounder, followed by The Natural at 33 pounds — and Reelin Feelin with a 25-pound dolphin.

There were no wahoo the first day. but The Zipper took the lead at 71 pounds, and there was also a 46-pounder by Torta.

The two 73-pound white marlin remained unchallenged, but third place was filled in by Lucky Lady Jean at 68 pounds to edge Intents at 66 pounds and Gusto’s 65.

There have been no blue marlin weigh-ins so far. Check tomorrow’s blog for the points standings.

Hot canyon fishing during MidAtlantic opener

Though only 44 boats out of 151 entered in the MidAtlantic Tournament out of Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland braved the NE wind forecast to fish Monday’s opener, most of those boats experienced very good fishing.

White marlin releases were reported steadily, and two 73-pounders took over the lead in that richest category for Special Situation and 3’s Enough. There were also several blue marlin releases, though none close to the 400-pound minimum for weighing.

The tuna category was a huge improvement over the recent White Marlin Open at Ocean City, where a mere 75.5-pounder won over $900,000. M.R. Ducks (below) weighed an 85-pound bigeye, but is only in third place at the MidAtlantic.

ccbigeye -85 M.R. Ducks.jpgReel Estate (below) and First Light were the tuna leaders as the former took over first, fourth and sixth with weigh-ins of 110, 77 and 74 pounds — while First Light is second at 102 pounds and fifth with a 75-pounder.

ThTheReel Estate bigeyesThe only two dolphin entered were just 18 pounds by Ringleader and 17 pounds by Game Changer.

The early points leader is Billfisher with 12 whites and a blue for 1050 points. Give It Away released eight whites. while Big Deal, First Light, Bar South and Goose had six each. Special Situation not only had the white marlin entry, but also five white releases along with Taylor Jean and Real Chaos. 3’s Enough added releases of six whites and a blue marlin to their 73-pound white.

There are 146 boats fishing today, and I’ll have another blog after the scales close at 9 p.m. to report the almost inevitable changes. By the way, the MidAtlantic recounted the purse which went up a bit to $3,368.490.

Though the ocean remained a bit nasty, some N.J. party boats got back out. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had also fished yesterday and managed sea bass plus chub mackerel and some blues  and bonito then– while today’s variety consisted of blues and little tunny.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter found the ocean to be too uncomfortable so they fished in the bay for a decent pick of keepers among good short fluke action. The Fishermen stuck it out in the ocean where some sea bass, blues and triggerfish were added to the fluke. Scott Scudieri won the pool with a 6.9-pound fluke.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished his local beach and released a small striper on a Chug Bug in a still somewhat rough surf. I worked Shark River and didn’t hook a fish. Fly fisherman Bill Hoblitzell had the same luck as of the time I left — and he had already tried Sea Girt with the same result. Surfcasting should improve as the waves settle somewhat in the lighter winds forecasted.

 

Two 73-pound white marlin weighed in MidAtlantic

It was probably a bit rough for boats that sailed during the first day of The MidAtlantic out of Ocean City. Maryland and Cape May, but fishing was very good with lots of marlin caught along with a showing of larger tuna.

Both Special Situation (which also released five whites) and 3’s Enough weighed 73-pound white marlin. There were quite a few blue marlin caught, but no 400-pounders to be weighed.

Reel Estate weighed a 111-pound tuna that would have run away with the recent White Marlin Open tuna money, but they’re not far ahead of a 102-pounder by First Light. M.R Ducks is third at 85 pounds,  while Reel Estate holds both fourth and sixth at 77 and 74 pounds — with First Light in between at 75 pounds.

Ring Leader leads in dolphin with an 18-pounder just one pound ahead of Game Changer. Billfisher released three whites and a blue to take the release lead with 1052  points.

MidAtlantic opens with 151 boats competing for $3,246,760

MidAtlantic Tournament opened today out of Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland with 151 boats seeking pieces of the $3,246,760 purse. Despite the northeast wind forecast,  it appears that 44 skippers decided to take their first day at sea during the opener.

Jeff Merrill told me that the forecast was better for Ocean City  boats, and there’s some windy weather forecast for Wednesday. Right now, the best day of the week for canyon fishing appears to be the final one on Friday. I’ll have the first day’s results later tonight after weigh-ins are completed at 9 p.m.

There was a lack of other fishing results today as many party boats cancelled trips in advance due to the continuing northeast forecast. Vinny D’Anton and I put in a couple of hours casting into Shark River where I released a 21 1/2-inch striper on a Z Man Swimmereez jig and lost another. Vinny moved around and came up with two small bass on a Chug Bug — and had a soft plastic jig tail bitten off by a blue.

Yesterday morning, I got hit four times in a row on a cast by what had to be one or more blues, but the bluefish-proof Z Man paddletail was unaffected even though my leader was full of chips from bluefish teeth.

 

 

NE wind made it tough on anglers

As noted last night, there was going to be a lot of northeast wind today, but I wasn’t counting on all the rain that came with it.  I was able to hide from the worst of it in Shark River, and watched boats go out and soon come back.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar was an exception, and they reported good action with sea bass despite the nasty ocean. Some ling were added along with “tommy cod”.  I very much doubt that tomcod were found offshore as they are a small inshore species. It’s likely those fish were spotted hake, a similarly-shaped small member of the cod family which can be identified by the line of white spots along its lateral line. Though fairly common, they rarely are as large as a pound.  The Golden Eagle also marked chub mackerel on their fish finder, and plan to chum for them tomorrow.

Small craft warnings for gusty NE winds continue into Monday afternoon.  The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands sent customers home this morning due to the wind and rain. Check with them about tomorrow. The Angler has already decided not to sail until Tuesday as they won’t be able to get to the areas that have been producing larger fluke.

The MidAtlantic begins fishing days tomorrow from Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland.  Many skippers like to get a jump on the field during the first day, but I suspect few will fight rough seas when the rest of the week looks better. I’ll have late blogs with results after the weigh-ins close through Friday.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that fluking was excellent on Saturday. The Ozark Club Tournament produced fluke weigh-ins at the northern store up to 11 pounds, and up to 7 pounds at Belmar.  The river was also good as Jesse Thomas of Wall had a fluke limit in just two hours.

I only managed three small stripers in the rain this morning from shore in Shark River, and paid dearly for them as my surf rod (Tsunami 8-foot, 10-inch Elite with Canyon 3500 spinning reel) disappeared from behind my back. There was just one “stranger” on the shore, and he left during the rain while I was a casting a jig with the lighter tackle.

West wind worked for some

Today’s west wind was just what the Ocean Explorer from

 

Belmar wanted, and they reported red hot fluke fishing with lots of keepers up to 8 pounds. Pink and white were the best jig colors once again.

Fluke reports from Atlantic Highlands weren’t as good. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said a hard south current combined with the west wind to create rough conditions where they had fished yesterday. A move to rocky bottoms resulted in calmer waters and a decent pick.  Yesterday was much better as a 6.8-pounder was boated before Capt. Ron Sr. added a 6.2-pound fluke. The skipper’s son, Ron Jr., boated a 5-pounder and most fares did well. Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the west wind that was harder than forecast, but ended up with a decent catch on his Sea Hunter.

Small blues provided Shore party boats with a shot of good jigging action. The Golden Eagle from Belmar then went offshore to add chub mackerel and some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle got into small blues yesterday morning, but they were hard to catch. As a result, they set up for chumming offshore to load up on chub mackerel plus a few ling and sea bass — while dolphin also invaded the slick.

Jamaica dolphin

 

Adam La Rosa is looking forward to the MidAtlantic Tournament in Cape May, where the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has been in the money four of the last five years. They have only one charter date left in August for chunking yellowfins

Mike Barrasso of Bay Head went to his local beach at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and was finally able to reach surfacing bonito to catch not only one –but a doubleheader on a hammered metal and a Joe Melillo Castaways Tackle teaser.

Outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky has caught bonito from the local surf before, but never a Spanish mackerel until this morning. After a series of mishaps at Point Pleasant, he made a blind cast before leaving and broke the ice.

Vinnie D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet and was at the right place when some stripers started rolling. He released four up to 24 inches on a Chug Bug, and switched to metal when a school of small blues zipped by to catch one.