Blue Runner moves into second in tuna at WMO

With the scales set to close shortly, and no boats expected, it appears that the highlight of Wednesday’s fishing in the 47th annual White Marlin Open was the 106-pound tuna on Blue Runner from Manasquan that put northern N.J. into a prize money position as they pushed Swords Fish back to third with their 92-pound tuna. Blue Runner has a potential payout of $395,000 if it holds up over the next four days. Restless Lady 2 remains first at 114.5 pounds.

A white marlin was weighed, but fell short of the 70-pound minimum at 67 1/2 pounds.

The two “fun fish” categories finally got an entry. Salt Lick weighed a 35.5-pound dolphin, and Magic Moment boated a 60.5-pound wahoo.

WMO Open will be humming the next four days

Though the tropical storm passed by quickly, only 35 of the 433 boats entered in the White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Maryland opted to fight the remaining seas today with four days of predicted good weather ahead of them in which to utilize their three fishing days.

There was no one waiting when the scales opened at 4 p.m., but I’m sure there will be lots to write about by the time the scales close at 9:15. I’ll have another blog around that time to bring you up to date.

There was an early arrival at the scales on Monday, as Restless Lady II was anxious to weigh their 114.5-pound tuna which still leads that division entering the day. Most skippers would continue to fish out the day rather then return early with a good entry, but getting the maximum weight out of the fish is another consideration. Ounces are rarely important in big fish events, but the Big Rock Tournament at Morehead City. N.C. in June proved otherwise as less than a pound separated the three top blue marlin which were all over 400 pounds. Swords Fish from Indian River, Delaware is currently second in tuna with a 92-pounder, and Wrecker from Ocean City is third at 57..

There wasn’t much white marlin action the first day though one was weighed in. Whites must be 68 inches in order to be weighed, but have to be 70 pounds to get on the leaderboard. Unfortunately, that white only weighed 63 1/2 pounds. A revision of the white marlin release count for Monday brought that figure up to 11 plus the one boated for a total of 12 whites that day along with four eligible {50-pound minimum) tuna. Amazingly, there were no dolphin which have to be at least 20 pounds.

It’s likely that almost every boat will be sailing tomorrow with a forecast of northeast winds at just 5-10 knots which switch to east in the afternoon.

Thursday at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline for entering the JCAA Heavy Hitters Fluke Tournament which runs out of N.J. ports from Friday to Sunday. Each entrant can select the day he wants to fish by text or e-mail the night before. Boats are limited to four people, and only four lines can be fished at a time. The total weight of three fluke wins, and there are also various Calcuttas. Enter on-line by visiting http://www.jcaa.org. You can also call Paul Haertel for details at 973 943-8201.

Tank Matraxia had a fine time yesterday while fishing for sea bass on the charter boat Albacore out of Nantucket. His party of four limited with sea bass that ran up to 21 inches before adding keeper-sized fluke.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar was kept in port by the storm, but will be sailing into fine weather at 7:30 tomorrow morning.

World record $6.7 million purse as WMO opens

Despite the pandemic and a tropical storm moving up the coast, the 47th annual White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Md. is underway with 433 boats and a world record tournament purse of $6.7 million. The field for the 2020 WMO includes many top boats from last year’s fleet that set a tournament record of 1,429 white marlin releases.  

The ‘Big Deal” out of Brielle, N.J. will be defending the 2019 Top Boat award as will runner-up “Uno Mas”. Returning also are many of the top money winners of 2019.  The “Fish Whistle” out of Indian River, De. which won $1,504,000 last year for a 79.5-pound white marlin is back as is the “Backlash” from Virginia Beach that took second and $1,502,000.  Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club won $935,000 for the top tuna and returns to try to add to their winnings. Business was the white marlin winner at the recent Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational, and will try to repeat with big money on the board.

I was expecting a few boats to sail before the storm, but 42 did so. A few returned to the scales early to start filling the tuna leader board. Restless Lady 2 from Ocean City took the lead for $980,000 with a 114.5-pounder. Swords Fish from Indian River had a 92-pound entry for second and a potential $60,000. The center console Wet Rock had a catch of tuna which included a 56-pounder that made it over the 50-pound minimum.

I’ll have an update later tonight after the scales close. Tuesday will be a washout with a tropical storm warning in place for offshore S-SE winds at 35-45- knots and 11-19-foot seas before switching to SW 35-45. By Wednesday morning that will be down to SW at 5-15 knots with just 3-5-foot seas.

The inshore forecast is somewhat better as tonight’s SW gusts to 25 knots drop down before gusting to 35 knots SE in the afternoon with lots of rain and 9-15-foot seas. You can be sure that no one will be sailing.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands couldn’t duplicate yesterday’s decent fluking in a south wind due to a lack of movement. Most keeper fluke were just 18 inches except for a 4-pounder — and one limit was taken.

Sunday’s south wind didn’t bother Phil Fischer initially as he ran into breaking fish in Sandy Hook Bay. Nothing hit small lures trolled slowly until he picked up speed and started catching Spanish mackerel. The wind was fine for drifting rough bottom in the bay which produced a near-doormat 9 1/2-pounder though other keepers barely made it before the wind got too strong.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported Sunday’s southeast wind was no good for drifting or catching — and only a few fluke were caught. The Golden Eagle had a good Saturday, but Sunday and Monday were tougher for blues, chub mackerel, ling and fluke. However, they did release some black-tipped sharks today.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had to postpone the Tuesday tuna trip. Sunday’s inshore fishing was the first clunker in weeks with only a few Spanish mackerel.

Bob Correll reported that a cownose ray provided a surprise catch in the Bay Head surf for one angler this morning.

NJ sea bass ending with a flourish

Sea bass stoks off the N.J. coast have been taking a beating this month as ocean fluking has been poor, but they still appear to be abundant as the season ends tomorrow.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported limit catches today as those using jigs and teasers greatly outfished fares sticking with bait.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr, gave the edge of the channel a try this morning with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, but only drifted short fluke before dogfish took over. Then he ran down the beach where some sea bass and ling were taken among the shorts while a whale put on a show. However, the best news came at the dock when Ron’s son showed up unexpectedly after flying in from L.A. for Father’s Day.

The small blues that have been providing some action for surfcasters at Bay Head the last two days didn’t show up this morning, but Jim Gates got a surprise hit in the wash from a decent school striper that he released.

Andrea’s Toy had a great tilefish trip last week with 30 up to 30 pounds before adding tuna on the surface during the trip home.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA had a real variety trip offshore of Barnegat Inlet last week with two tuna, one cod, one pollock, one bluefish, one fluke, two ling and some sea bass.

The forecast continues good with southwest winds of 5-10 knots — increasing to 10-15 in the afternoon.

Hot canyon tuna trolling

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has been off to a great start on their spring tuna trolling in Lindenkohl Canyon, as noted in the following message

109 Tuna in First Three Canyon Trips
Capt. Deane Lambros & Capt. Mike Zajac followed up their first trip of 39 tuna by going back out Monday to Tuesday with the Wallance Vicknar charter and found the bluefins right where they had left them. They went two out of three on bigeyes and had seven yellowfins. Out of 15 bluefins they kept a 60-incher and three around 30 pounds while releasing the rest.

The big trip so far this week was with another Canyon Runner Coaching and Fishing Report Member who was looking for a tutorial charter. Mike Bonnano and his crew didn’t have much time for lessons on gear, tackle, electronics etc. – as soon as they got on site – around the Toms Canyon – they had 4-5-6 fish on at a time.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a decent sea bass trip today as some limits were taken before it got very windy. There is some room on afternoon weekend trips.

That 25 knot southwest wind should drop to 10-15 by morning along with possible showers.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported a boat limit of sea bass yesterday along with some ling, a few whiting and couple of bluefish. That have reservations open for 7:30 a.m. Monday.

Fluke reports are still hard to come by from the Raritan Bay fleet. Capt. Stan Zagleski Jr. of Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands notes that it’s been slow, with almost all the fluke being caught in very shallow waters that are the warmest.

The big one that got away — again!

While I’m not fishing at this time, I can still enjoy the adventures of others. — and my nephew, Todd Correll of Ft. Lauderdale, had a great story to tell this week.

Todd was trolling with his boat 14 miles offshore of his second home in the Keys at Islamorada, and got into small blackfin and yellowfin tuna feeding under working birds when a 50-pound class rod was bent over by something much bigger that hit a cedar plug trolled far astern behind a teaser.

After four hours battling with tackle that was inadequate for the situation, he seemed to be making some progress before  the heavy leader suddenly broke. Worst of all,  the fish could never be identified — though it was likely a giant bluefin or a very large yellowfin.

If it was any consolation, I told Todd that he got off easy. Decades ago I was trolling off Salinas, Ecuador for striped marlin and sailfish with 30-pound tackle  when I saw a swordfish engulf my bonito — a blind strike that’s almost unheard of by that species. After three hours of stand-up battle, I sat down in a fighting chair. The swordfish only jumped once, and I really had no realistic idea of how big it was since I’d never seen one before.  However, I did know that the IGFA world record on 30-pound was vacant — and it would surely be a world record if the line tested out at 30-pounds or less.

The crew wanted that fish as much as I did — and the fight went on. When it started getting dark, the captain had a hard time following the line until it got pitch dark and “fire” in the water on a moonless night made it easy to track. Before daylight, another boat was coming out with more fuel so we could continue the fight when, suddenly, my heavy leader broke or was cut by something to end a 12 1/2-hour battle.

At least I got to see my “big one that got away” and at that point only prayed that it survived  the fight it deserved to win.

There was lots of wind today, and there will be more tomorrow which starts at 15-20 knots plus gusts to 30 before dropping to east at just 5-10 knots in the afternoon.

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

 

 

 

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.

Official results of WMO in as MidAtlantic nears

Official results of last week’s White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Maryland (see below) were received, including the release winners, just as many boaters are on their way to what may be an even bigger tournament in Cape May — the MidAtlantic. That contest operates out of Cape May plus a satellite port in Ocean City, Maryland. The festivities start on Aug. 19, and boaters then fish three out of five days for what’s expected to be an over $3 million purse.  The minimum sizes are 65 pounds for white marlin; 400 pounds for blue marlin; and 50 pounds for tuna — with no minimum on dolphin and wahoo. For entry information call tournament director  Aaron Hoffman at 609 884-0177.

$2.58 MILLION DOLLAR WINNER TOPS IMPRESSIVE 2018 EVENT

August 13, 2018

In a close finish, Pascual Jimenez from Puerto Aventuras, Mexico edged out all competitors to win a world record $2,584,260* in the 45th White Marlin Open.  Fishing on the Weldor’s Ark out of Morehead City, NC,  Jimenez weighed an 83-pound white marlin on the final day of the 5-day event held in Ocean City, MD to take the top individual prize in the 382-boat field.  Gregory Giron and the Under Dog from VA Beach took 2nd place money for their 83-pound white worth $129,784 with the Lights Out from Ocean Reef, FL taking 3rd and $85,804 for the 75-pound white marlin caught by Bill Haugland of Coconut Grove, FL on Day 2.

Two world records were set during the 2018 event.  The $2.58 million-dollar payout was the most ever awarded for the catch of a billfish, and the $5.45 million-dollar purse was the most ever paid in any fishing tournament.

The Blue Marlin Category and the $924,936 purse was safely held all week by Joe Rahman from Wanaque, NJ. His 881-pound monster caught Monday aboard the Auspicious out of Palm Beach, FL was never challenged as it was the only qualifying blue marlin weighed the week.

WMO blue marlin

The Tuna Division  edged closer to anointing the first million-dollar tuna as Gary Sansburry from  Hobe Sound, FL won $904,851 while fishing off the Buckshot out of Ocean City, MD.  The 75.5-pound tuna was the biggest of a close group that split up the rest of the tuna purse of $1,300,000.  The Blinky IV out of Freeport, MA was second with a 73.5-pound tuna weighed by  angler Charles Matattal from Blackstone, Massachusetts good for $135,421.  The Brass Monkey and Jake Pilkerton all from Leonardtown, MD did well with the 71-pound tuna caught on the first fishing day.  It took the 3rd place tuna money and the top small boat tuna money good for a total of $215,916.

The Wahoo Division also saw a big winner come in the last day when Kevin Graybill of Morgantown, PA weighed a 63-pounder while fishing aboard the Over Board out of Ocean City, MD.  The wahoo took 1st place money and, parleyed with winning the Small Boat Big Fish category gave Graybill a total of $115,271.   The other wahoo money went to the Desperado from Virginia Beach, VA with $1,846, and the Canyon Hunter from Indian River, DE with $21,471.

Dolphin provided action all week with the top winners:  Fin-Nominal from Indian River, DE – $19,464,   Rigged Up from Manteo, NC  – $18,646,  the Moxie Boys from Ocean City, MD $16,646, the  Sea Note out of Oregon Inlet, NC and the local Bonnie Lynn each took $15,300.

When most think of the White Marlin Open, they think of the excitement at the scales, the million-dollar winners, and energy of the crowds at the “World’s Largest & Richest Billfishing Tournament.”  While that show plays out on the Big Stage at Harbour Island, the true test of man, machine and crew takes place out of the spotlight or the streaming lenses.  The best anglers and crew aren’t necessarily measured by the money won or by the largest fish caught but buy the skills needed  to catch and release the most fish.

This division is won by skill and teamwork and the sheer love of the sport.  The exceptional white marlin fishing found off Ocean City, Md provides a great venue to compete against some of the best saltwater sports fisherman in the world.

The great fishing during the 2018 event created intense competition for the release divisions and the abundance of blue marlin tilted the advantage for those lucky enough to add blue marlin release points to their totals.

The Top Boats in the Release division were also the Top Release Boats for 2018 WMO.

The Viking 72 out of New Gretna, NJ topped all comers with 10 white marlin and 1 blue marlin released good for 875 points.  The Billfisher was second with 12 released white marlin for 840 points.  The Fin Planner from Oregon Inlet, NC had 11 white marlin releases good for 770 points.  Uno Mas from Ft Lauderdale, Fl and Special Station from Palm Beach, FL each had 8 white marlin and 1 blue marlin release for 735 points.

The individual Top Angler awards are based on billfish points accumulated over the 5-day event.  The Top Individual Anglers in the 2018 White Marlin Open are:

Ron Kawaja on the Fin Planner with 8 white marlin releases for 560 points.  2nd was Joe Rahman from Wanaque, NJ, 3 white marlin release and a 881-pound blue marlin boated for a total of 503 points while fishing aboard Auspicious out of Palm Beach, FL.  Greg Lentz aboard the Trust Me Too had 3 whites, a blue marlin and a spearfish release for 455 points and Lawrence Julio fishing aboard Ocean City’s Rhonda’s Osprey also earned 455 points with 3 whites, a blue and a spearfish release.

*How does the prize money awarded in the White Marlin Open stack up against top individual awards paid in other major sporting events?  The comparisons show that the White Marlin Open payouts do very well as they top almost every other professional  sport in the world.

The individual award of $2.58 million dollars paid to Pascual Jimenez for his winning 83-pound white marlin was more money than was paid the winner of the 2018 Master’s Golf Championship, ($1.98 million), the 2018 U.S. Open Golf Championship, ($2.16 million) or any other major golf championship in history.*

The 2018 Kentucky Derby paid future Triple Crown Winner “Justify” $1.24 million for winning this year’s Derby.  2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods presented 2018 winner Jordan Lee the top of $300,000 for winning their top event.  The few events that do pay more than the WMO top prize are Wimbledon and U.S. Open Tennis that are paying $2.96 million to the single’s men’s and women’s champion.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere hooked another huge striper Sunday afternoon with his Katfish from Great Kills as he once again turned to trolling his Ho-Jo’s after bunker were hard to come by. A 52-pounder is pictured below Vetere is open for a last minute charter tomorrow.

Katfish 52

At Atlantic Highlands, the Angler had a memorable Sunday trip as Alex Turco of Midatlantic, Fl. boated a 10 1/4-pound doormat fluke — only to be edged for the pool by a 12 1/8-pounder hooked by Bruno Da Silva of Oakhurst. Yet, those doormats weren’t in the monthly pool which is led by a 6 7/8-pounder.  The Sea Hunter fished Monday in all that wind and rain, but still had lots of short action even though keepers were scarce.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that the party boats are doing well with fluke up to 9 pounds, but the rain and dire forecasts are killing business. There are some stripers in the surf, and Bob fought two cownose rays in one morning.

Vinny D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet and used his Chug Bug to release stripers of 24 and 20 inches. I went the other way and did nothing casting metal into fishable seas at Bay Head — though at low tide.