Waste Knot Wins the 15th Annual VBBT with a 683-Pound Blue Marlin, Five White Marlin Releases
The 15th annual Virginia Beach Billfish Tournament wrapped up Saturday night and closed the chapter on a historic event. A record 80 boats competed this year for a new benchmark $620,000 in prize money. For the first time, two blue marlin were weighed and one of them made a huge difference for the Manteo, North Carolina team, Waste Knot. Angler Ed Groce boated a 683-pound blue and combined with five white marlin releases, gave the team the top score (1,033 points) and the top payout, $282,000.
2018 MidAtlantic Comes to a Close in Record Setting Fashion!
The 2018 MidAtlantic, the 27th edition of sportfishing’s “Main Event,” came to an exciting close last night for the 157 participating boats and crews with award ceremonies featuring lavish buffet dinners and record cash payouts for numerous winners celebrated at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May, New Jersey and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. The week saw numerous records set once again including a cash purse of well over $3.36 million up for grabs, record single payouts for the top winners in the white marlin and tuna categories and a record number of blue marlin (55) caught and well over 750 white marlin released!
The final day of the 2018 MidAtlantic dawned sunny and clear with a light breeze and full moon in the sky. Once again, a bit of tournament history was set as for the first time in the event’s 27-year history the entire fleet of 157 boats was eligible to fish on the final day. Day Five saw several changes on the leaderboard on what has traditionally been called Moving Day at the MidAtlantic. This event was the first billfish tournament to use the phrase in reference to the major shake-ups which occur on the leaderboard and this year would be no different. Sea conditions improved dramatically from the previous day and the billfish bite continued its scorching pace.
The most significant changes occurred in the white marlin category when Captain Doug Ortlip backed Sean O’Donnell’s Cape May-based Got Game to the scales at Canyon Club in Cape May and weighed a 78-pounder for angler O’Donnell to jump to the top of the leaderboard. O’Donnell and crew later in the evening accepted the winner’s check of $905,408 in Cape May, a record payout for white marlin! Got Game’s 78-pounder pushed Thomas Colquhoun’s Special Situation from Ocean City, Maryland and Justin Branning’s 3’s Enough from Wall, New Jersey, leaders from Day One of the tournament, into a tie for second place as each had weighed white marlin of 73-pounds. 3’s Enough received $293,712 while Special Situation netted $134,006. Worthy of note is the difference in payouts reflects the level of side bets, known as Calcuttas, each participant enters. Another significant change to the leaderboard on Day Five occurred when Captain Paul Robertson weighed a 69-pound white marlin for angler Joey Hurley from their Dayton, Maryland-based FFMD and moved into a tie for third place with Leonard Tallo’s Gusto from Islamorada, Florida. For their efforts Gusto received $169,466 while FFMD netted $141,376.
by Steve Katz
Despite the central importance of the transducer to the ability to view what is happening beneath the water line, transducers are commonly overlooked. Proof that the importance of transducers is often bypassed is evidenced by asking captains or owners how they decided upon the transducer they use. Ask enough and you are bound to hear, “All I really need to know about transducers, I learned from the guy on the boat the next slip over.” While asking the guy next to you might make for a quick study, it may not be the best way to learn about how to use your existing transducers or what to look for when purchasing a new transducer.
Our favorite fish finders, sonar, bottom machines, depth finders, sounders… whatever we call them, all operate using transducers. The transducer is in contact with the sea water below the boat and plays a major role in the quality of picture on the sounder display. Transducers come in many different sizes, types and mounting styles. Picking the correct unit for your boat and the display can be difficult, costly and confusing. This article will help you understand the basics of the types, sizes and mounting styles of transducers and make your next purchase a little easier.
Basic Operation and Types
Hiding beneath the transducer’s soft urethane face is one or more piezoceramic ceramic elements. These elements change electrical pulses sent by the sounder into sound waves or acoustic energy. Similar in function to a speaker and microphone all in one, the sounder transmits (or transduces) a signal into the water using the transducer as a speaker. Once the sound beam is emitted, the sounder stops transmitting and begins listening, using the transducer as a microphone to listen for reflected sound waves from objects below the surface. A transducer’s performance varies with the size, quantity and quality of the ceramic elements it contains. High power, high performance transducers have multiple elements inside the housing.
These elements are manufactured and tuned to operate on a certain frequency or range of frequencies, such as the traditional frequencies of 50 kHz or 200 kHz. The lower frequency range around 50 kHz is used in deep water, while the higher range around 200 kHz provides greater resolution in shallower water. We use low frequency in deeper water because lower frequencies travel deeper than higher frequencies at the same power output. Low frequency sound waves are larger than high frequency and can skip over smaller details that many anglers are looking for. Most manufacturers offer transducers that have both low and high (or medium) elements contained in a single housing, allowing a transducer to operate on multiple frequencies at the same time if desired. CHIRP transducers can operate over a range of frequencies, “sweeping” across the designed range. A typical CHIRP frequency range is 42 kHz-65 kHz for the low frequency and 150 kHz-250 kHz on the high side for the popular B275LHW CHIRP transducer.
The shape of the sonar beam also varies with frequency; traditionally low frequency has a wide beam resulting in a larger coverage area but with reduced resolution. Traditionally high frequency has had a narrow beam with more definition. Lately manufacturers have designed new ceramics that allow the high frequency to be much wider, often matching the beam angle of the low frequency, while ensuring a higher resolution sounder picture and covering much more water area beneath the boat.
There are two related size measurements for transducers. One relates to physical dimensions, the other relates to power handling rated in watts for traditional transducers. Generally, a higher power transducer is physically larger than a smaller one. The size of your boat and the available access at the mounting location are often the determining factor on what size transducer you can install. Cost is also a factor. The largest transducers cost upwards of a few thousand dollars. The transducer also has to be compatible with the display hardware.
Manufacturers often have a list of compatible transducers to choose from. Traditional sportfishing transducers range in power from 600 watts to 3000 watts with comparative power in the CHIRP products. Physical sizes range from as small as 3.5” in diameter to over 23” long. AIRMAR, the major transducer manufacturer in the USA, makes most of the popular sportfish transducers. It also manufactures transducers with up to 10,000 wattsand 100 piezoceramic elements for specialized applications.
How Do Sounders Detect Fish?
Almost all fish have an organ called an air bladder, or swim bladder. These bladders are filled with gas that help fish to adapt to the water pressure at different depths. This air bladder has density that is greatly different from that of the surrounding water and flesh and bone of the fi sh. This differential density makes what the sounder does possible. Sound waves emitted by the sounder bounce off the fish with a distinctive signal. Signals echoed from the swim bladder are what we are often really seeing on the screen of our sonar.
Learning about the fish you’re targeting, their habitat and food they eat can go a long way in helping you design a fish finder system that meets the needs of your fishing activities.
Putting It All Together
If you are looking to add or replace a transducer, you should start by figuring out what is the best frequency needed for the fishing you plan to do. If you will be deep dropping– look for a low frequency unit that can handle a lot of power to send the signals deep to the bottom. Sailfishing– look for a high frequency that will show high resolution of top of the water column where the sailfish are and also the baitfish they feed on.
Once you have selected the frequency and power, you will need to match up an installation style with your boats bottom to determine what is best. Locating a transducer where it
will always have clean undisturbed water is always the goal, though compromises are often necessary based on boat design, installation time and budgets. The final step is to match your transducer with a sonar system that meets your needs for performance, quality, reliability and price.
The InTheBite Captain of the Year Cup, presented by Hatteras, is the championship of sportfishing. The Cup is the world’s only quantifiable way to recognize the tournament success of professional sportfishermen. Comprised of 90-sanctioned events that span the world, there is nothing else like it. Winning an InTheBite Captain of the Year Award is a major achievement. From the winners to the Cup’s origin, it is an interesting tale.
Origins of the Cup
InTheBite Magazine started in 2003. Since its conception, the magazine has focused on providing useful, entertaining content for professional sportfishing crews. InTheBite’s publisher and founder, Dale Wills, was the son of a captain and himself ran sportfisher in Venezuela during the fishery’s heyday. Over the course of covering the sportfishing landscape in the magazine’s formative years, Wills began to notice that something was missing.
“We began realizing that each year as we covered the magazine that certain teams would get on winning streaks. There was no award for them at the time and we wanted to recognize guys for doing well, so we created the Captain of the Year,” Wills recalls. “There was nothing for crews that consistently placed in tournaments. The owners would get checks, but we wanted to do more. We wanted to recognize the crews and the success of our readership.”
The first ever InTheBite Captain of the Year was VJ Bell in 2003. It was Bell’s dominance that spurred the decision to act. “That year we watched VJ Bell cleaning everyone’s clock and we wanted to recognize him.”
In 2014, The Captain of the Year Cup took on its current multidivisional format. From 2003-2013, a single captain won the award based on voting by past winners. In 2014, to recognize the regional variations in the sportfishing landscape, the Captain of the Year Cup expanded to five divisions: East Coast Division , the Contender Florida Division, Gulf, Hawaii and the IGY Marinas International Division. Beyond the five divisions, InTheBite recognizes a winner of the World Wide Rankings, the captain who accrues the highest point total in the race each year. Each division is comprised of sanctioned tournaments, the results of which produce points for the COTY scoring.
Sanctioned events must meet a 12-boat minimum. Scoring is accumulated in the catch and release divisions of billfish tournaments: 500-points for first place, 300-points for second, 100-points for third place. For tournaments that include a heaviest marlin division, there is an additional 500-points awarded to the winning captain. The heaviest marlin points are in addition to and separate from the points awarded for the release divisions. In this way, a captain could theoretically win 1,000 points in the same tournament (by weighing the heaviest marlin and winning the release division). In tournaments that award top boat prizes through combined weighed fish and released fish, Captain of the Year points are awarded to the winner of the release division. An additional 250-points is awarded to captains who win series crowns in tournament circuits (Gulf Coast Triple Crown, the Los Sueños Triple Crown, etc.).
The point tallies follow the captain, rather than the boat. It is common for charter captains, especially in the Florida Division, to tally points on two or sometimes three boats in the course of the year. Not only do some captains score on multiple boats, some captains tally points in different divisions through the year. Multi divisional tallies were the key to the top two finishers in 2016’s World Wide Rankings—Captains Jon Duffie and Tommy Lynskey (each of whom scored in both the international and east coast divisions).
What Does it Mean to Win Captain of the Year?
Winning an ITB Captain of the Year Award is a big deal. From the early days of the award, when a single winner was chosen to the point-based divisional system of today, to win requires skill, consistency and dedication (nobody will turn down a little luck, either). Winning a Captain of the Year award requires a sizeable investment in tournament fishing by boat owners, skill and proficiency of mates, and anglers who are consistently ready when the bite happens. While all of these things must be present, it is the captain whose decision making keeps winning boats on the fish.
“It was awesome. I think it’s a pretty cool idea. With all of the new categories and areas, it has changed quite a bit since I won it,” says Captain Travis Butters the 2008 Captain of the Year. “The award was a great idea for the industry. It gives everyone something to strive for aside from just winning tournaments.”
When describing his winning year of 2008, Butters recalls, “First we won something in Key West. Then we won the Custom Boat Shootout and won a couple in Bermuda, and the Triple Crown. It was just one of those years when everything went your way.”
Captain Devin Potts is the 2016 Gulf Division Captain of the Year. Potts, who runs the Sea Mixer, a 66-foot Spencer, says “There are a lot of good, good fishermen here. Winning this is a huge career milestone for me. It has been a humbling experience.”
Captain Victor Julio Lopez runs the Tranquilo, a 57-foot Spencer. Lopez was the first Costa Rican born captain to win the award, winning the 2016 International Division. “The success of my efforts may be attributed to the blessing of God and the effort of our team and our anglers. My mate Daniel Arrieta has been here giving his best to keep us in this position. My wife Tania is by my side and has always been my good luck charm,” says Lopez describing his success. “It’s taken a great effort day to day to be in the position and it is a great honor to the first Costa Rican captain to be named Captain of the Year.”
So Now You’ve Won Captain of the Year… Now What?
It is standard practice that Captains of the Year host a party along with the presentation of the award. Just as there have been many different personalities who have won, the parties in the past have ranged far and wide. Captain Wink Doerzbacher won the 2013 Captain of the Year and the Florida Division Award in 2014. He celebrated in style with a reception at the Sailfish Point Clubhouse in Stuart, Florida. Captain John Dudas’ 2009 celebration was a catered affair at the legendary Miami Beach Rod and Gun Club. When Captain Ronnie Fields won it in 2010, the party was an epic affair hosted by Big Oh owner Gray Ingram at his home. The reception for Captain Victor Julio Lopez included a friends and family affair on the cockpit of the Tranquilo after day 1 of a Los Sueños tournament and a formal presentation at the tournament’s award ceremony. Captain Russell Sinclair’s reception was held at the Ocean Club Marina in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Some parties include pig roasts with guest chefs—like Captain Travis Butters (master of the pig roast), and some are a bit more low key. Compare this the bright lights and cocktail hours of some captains with the approach of back-to-back Hawaii Division Captain of the Year Kerwin Masunaga. Captain Kerwin prefers to live bait during tournaments and keep his head down. He lets his fishing do the talking for him. All of the diversity of approach is part of what makes the Cup so interesting.
The Sanctioned Events
The Cup consists of 90-sanctioned events. The largest division by number is the Los Suenos International Division with 23-tournaments. The Hawaii Division consists of 11. Sanctioned events are billfish tournaments that contain a minimum of 12-boats. While the award is meant to recognize the achievement of captains, the setup of the structure benefits a wide variety of those with an interest in sportfishing. Tournaments are chief among them.
Randy Bright is the Tournament Director of the Houston Big Game Club’s Lone Star Shootout. “We’ve been part of it since it started. I think it’s a great program. Captains love to compete and to compare themselves with other guys that they’re fishing with,” says the industry veteran. “It’s a great benefit to the professional tournament captains. Anything we can do to create a tie between tournament and tournament is a good thing. Captains really like the idea of being part of it. It also helps the tournament because it encourages captains to encourage their owners to fish multiple events.”
Amy Dukes is the Tournament Director for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. The five events that comprise the series—this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Georgetown Blue Marlin Tournament— are pivotal to the East Coast Division race. “It’s an honor to have captains that fish the South Carolina Governor’s Cup to be included in such a prestigious award,” says Duke. “The last couple of years we’ve had a great representation in the Captain of the Year standings. Captain Harvey Shiflet, the 2016 East Coast Captain of the Year, won two of our events last year. Before that, Captain Gary Richardson on the Reel Passion, turned success in the Governor’s Cup into a Captain of the Year Award in 2015. Captain Bobby Garmany on the Sportin’ Life placed well, too.”
The Cup Now
InTheBite.com is the source for current standings and the latest cup news. In the fourth year of its divisional format, the InTheBite Captain of the Year Cup, presented by Hatteras, is coming into its own. As the races heat up, the phone lines at the office ring with anticipation. “Who is winning?” “How am I doing?” “Do I need to fish any more events to keep my lead safe?” This is what makes tournament fishing fun and we’re honored to be able to recognize those who consistently produce.
InTheBite is proud to announce that AIRMAR Technology Corporation as the sponsor of the East Coast Division of the Captain of the Year Cup. The leader in Chirp-ready transducer technology, AIRMAR products make it possible for captains to view what goes on underwater with unparalleled clarity. Given the direct link between installation of AIRMAR products and tournament performance, the sponsorship is a natural fit. To take the relationship a step further, AIRMAR is sweetening the pot with a $2,000 bonus for the East Coast Captain of the Year if his boat is equipped with an AIRMAR produced CHIRP-ready transducer.
“Top captains are always looking for an edge and AIRMAR Chirp-ready transducers can make that happen,” states AIRMAR director of marketing, Craig Cushman. “We’re excited to reward the winning captain with $2000 if his boat is properly equipped.”
The rules are simple. To be eligible to win, the AIRMAR produced CHIRP transducer must be in place on the boat by June 1. 2018. If you’ve been considering a transducer upgrade, there has never been a better time. In order to collect the prize, captains and crew agree to allow AIRMAR to use their photo in marketing and promotion. See more fish, perform better in tournament season and win some extra cash. How can you go wrong?
NOTE: AIRMAR makes transducers for every top electronics brand. Check either the cable label or the top of the transducer for the AIRMAR name.