Where did the dolphin go?

The opening day of the White Marlin Open at Ocean City. Maryland produced very few fish, but prospects are much better after the tropical storm blows through today with a fine forecast for the rest of the contest that runs through Sunday.

Only 42 boats out of the 433 entered fished the first day, and many of them trolled for tuna closer to shore rather than running out to the canyons. That may have been the reason for the relative lack of billfish and the total absence of dolphin at the scales.

I expected to see dolphin on any boat that went out the first day. While canyon trolling is often a shot in the dark over great depths, dolphin are usually available by trolling the pot buoys along the edges of canyons. Yet, the daily award for dolphin went unclaimed.

Indeed, the WMO reported a species count for the day of only four eligible tuna plus six white marlin releases and one boated. Unfortunately. the boated white didn’t meet the 70-pound minimum.

Restless Lady 2 from Ocean City got off to a good start with a 114.5-pound yellowfin tuna, That wouldn’t normally stand up through the contest unless no bigeyes are encountered. Swords Fish from Indian River is in second with a 92-pound yellowfin that may not stand up, but also leads the Small Boat Division with a $250,000 payout. Wrecker from Ocean City moved into third with a 57-pound yellowfin.

The only good thing about the storm is that it’s getting out of the way quickly. The offshore forecast for Wednesday is for a southwest wind diminishing to 5-15 knots with seas dropping to 3-6 feet. By Thursday it’s down to less than 5 knots and 3-4-foot seas. What the fish will do under those conditions is always a question, but it will certainly be a new ball game.

Those fishing shore and inshore areas can expect to see dirty waters for a at least a day before the ocean settles even after the winds drop out.

$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.

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.

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.

Millions at stake during last day of WMO

With 324 boats fishing the final day, there’s likely to be some changes in the distribution of  the millions involved in the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City, Maryland. I’ll have the final results later tonight after the weigh-ins have been completed.

Though the tuna fishing has been way below expectations so far, billfishing has been good with 568 marlin caught during the first four days — and 559 of them released.

The big winners at this point would be the 83-pound white marlin that took over first place yesterday for Gregory Giron on Underdog for a projected $2.6 million — and the 881-pound blue marlin boated by Joe Rahman of Wanaque, N.J, on his Auspicious for a projected $700.000. Actually, the tuna winner could be in  the same area, depending on how many Calcuttas the eventual winner has entered. Gary Sansburry took the lead yesterday at just 75.5 pounds on Buck Shot .

Inshore anglers were treated to another fine day. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a real variety as they started off with small blues, then had some Spanish mackerel before going back to blues plus chub mackerel, sea bass, ling and two 5-pound fluke. On  Thursday they also had a bonito over 5 pounds and a pollock, The Ocean Explorer at that port had good fluke fishing with many limits for those jigging Gulp baits.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro has been catching tuna on offshore trips and sharks at Barnegat Ridge with his Hi Flier from Barnegat. He’s open over the weekend, and I’ll have more about his fishing tomorrow.

Allen Riley and John Mazzeo went from South Plainfield to Sandy Hook this morning along with Duke Matero of Piscataway. They found calm seas with so many rainfish in the wash that the small waves were dumping some on the beach as they tried to evade snappers. in the 78 degree waters.  John caught a couple of short fluke on Gulp, and Allen lost a keeper fluke in the wash when it  gave up its hold on a live snapper.  Duke caught a mystery fish which they thought might be a pilotfish. It’s pretty hard to identify from the photo, but it might be a banded rudderfish.

 

At Atlantic Highlands,, Capt. Ron Santee said he finally had another banner day on the Fisherman as the Columbia Bank charter had both fluke action and quality. Marty Herrman of Branchburg took the pool with an 8.22-pound fluke as he limited and added the two sea bass allowed. Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter  had a similar report of good fluking.

The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands has also had good fluke fishing this week — as shown below.

Elaine B II winning fluke

Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills continues to do well with stripers. A father and son team caught bass up to 26 pounds today among lots of  big smooth dogfish. He’s open for Saturday.

Vinny D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet this morning, and came across a spot where stripers were rolling in schools of rainfish. He managed to release a 27-incher and a small bass on a Chug Bug before it was over.

 

Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charter from Point Pleasant has been catching yellowfin tuna at the mid-range grounds with his Shore Catch from Point Pleasant as illustrated by this shot of Rich Brunger of the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County party.

DDDRich Brunger yellowfin.jpg

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.

 

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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.