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.

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.

I

 

 

 

$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.

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.

 

White marlin tie as WMO concludes.

The scales just closed at the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland, and there were just a couple of significant changes from the 324 boats fishing the final day.

One was very significant as Veldor’s Ark tied for the white marlin lead at 83 pounds with Under Dog, but the Calcuttas each were in resulted in a huge $2.5 million payoff to the new white, while Under Dog drops to only $130,000. I’ll try to get the explanation for that in Saturday’s blog when everything is official.

The other major change was at the top of the wahoo category as Over Board weighed a 63-pounder for $110,000.  Joe Rahman of Wanaque was secure in blue marlin with his first day 881-pounder for $7000,000, but also made a move to get into the white marlin money when his Auspicious returned with a legal length white that only weighed 67 1/2 pounds — below the 70-pound minimum.

There also should be news tomorrow about the Release Classic standings where Viking 72 and Uno Mas each had nine white marlin releases plus one blue marlin after the first four days.

White Marlin & Tuna leads change inWMO

There were almost bound to be changes with 213 boats fishing in the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City, Maryland — and that’s what happened.

The 75-pound white marlin which was a 2.4 million dollar fish for Lights Out fell to a “mere”   $130,000 after Gregory Giron on Under Dog weighed an 83-pounder that is in line for $2.6 million. The tuna lead shifted to Gary Sansburry on Buckshot with a 75.5-pounder that could be worth $900,000.  There was also another huge dolphin boated as George Mess on Rigged Up weighed a 41-pounder to take over second in that species. Instigator had a 43-pound wahoo which ranks fourth in that category.

The event concludes Friday with 335 boats eligible to fish. Many will be looking for a bigeye blast that could wipe out the tuna leaderboard.  Check Friday’s blogs for more info.

White Marlin Open moving toward an exciting finish

There were 213 boats fishing today in the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City , Md. , and if they don’t shake up the standings  it will almost surely happen tomorrow since 335 boats still have a day of eligibility to fish the conclusion.

Nothing is unbeatable, but Joe Rahman must be comfortable with the 881-pound blue marlin he opened the contest with. If no others are weighed, he’s good for $700.000. A blue was brought in yesterday on Sea Note, but it didn’t make the 114-inch minimum length to be weighed.

The big winner so far is Bill Haughland  on Lights Out with a 75-pound white marlin worth $2.4 million. He’s had to sweat out a few smaller whites brought in that made the minimum length but not the 70-pound minimum weight.

Also looking good is the dolphin leader of 50 pounds caught by Louis Genello on Fin-Nominal. Large dolphin have been scarce during tournaments since last year.  The wahoo lead changed again last night after I had done my late blog. Kenny Sexton brought in a 58-pounder on Desperado just three minutes before the scale closed.

It’s the tuna category that’s prime for a shake-up. Only medium yellowfins have been weighed so far, and not many of them. The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has had record-breaking bigeye tuna fishing this year, and both boats are in this contest. However, the northern canyons are beyond the 100-mile limit from Ocean City.  There was a big change yesterday as Blinky IV from Point Lookout, N.Y. took over first for $520,000 with a 73.5-pounder,

I’ll have an update on today’s weigh-ins later tonight.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had good news about fluke action today on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. Everyone caught lots of fluke though keepers weren’t easy to come by.

The Jamaica from Brielle caught a dolphin and some bonito among the small blues, chub mackerel and sea bass on Wednesday’s trip. They have several August specials.  Go to their web site for savings.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continues to catch stripers up to 35 pounds from his Katfish out of Great Kills. He lost the bunkers for bait after waters were clouded from heavy rains, but they’re back. He’s open for Saturday.

There are some small stripers in the surf, but finding them isn’t easy. I tried the Belmar surf this morning, It was beautiful, but I never raised a thing. Vinny D’Anton was fishing a few miles south of there and came upon a area where he raised seven bass to his Chug Bug and released three from about 17 to 23 inches. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some small blues were caught in the surf on metal last evening. Fluke fishing remains the best surf bet. Some rays and brown sharks are being caught at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you say hot? Despite the heat inland, the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are finding beautiful conditions once they clear the inlet on their fishing trips. The water is clean, the seas have been calm, and the temperatures are much more comfortable than onshore. When you throw in some nice catches of fish, It adds up to ideal fishing conditions.

 

As an example, the “StarFish with Captain Carl Sheppard along with mates Marlyn Graham and Max Goldman had a group of avid anglers out on their second trip of the year. According to Max, they “threw back tons of fluke” while boating six fluke up to 23-inches. The ocean temperatures were a balmy 74-degrees with the calm breezes making for long slow drifts.

There is action offshore also. Captain Ray Lopez had the Senker group out on the “Miss Liane” for a non-stop day of tuna fishing about 50 miles offshore. The crew left the dock at 2am and began trolling early in the morning. The fish cooperated as the group put four yellowfin tuna in the box ranging from 30 to over 40-pounds. The offshore action is as hot as the weather.

 

A

New tuna leader at WMO

There weren’t many weigh-ins by the 129 boats fishing today at the White Marlin Open in Ocean City. Md., but one of the big money categories had an upheaval as Charles Matattal on Blinky IV from Pt. Lookout. N.Y. took over first in tuna with a 72.5-pounder that’s in line for $520.000. That moved Brass Monkey to second at 71 pounds, and Dialed In to third at 69 pounds. Needless to say, all of those tuna are relatively small and would be pushed back by almost any bigeye tuna,

There was also a change in wahoo, as Charles Dawson on Canyon Hunter boated a 55-pounder to take the lead from The Right Place with a 47-pounder caught yesterday.