Record setting fishing for Cape May yesterday (August 30, 2018).. the Reelin’ Feelin’ crew with 37 whites and a blue on their day trip. Nice work boys!
Record setting fishing for Cape May yesterday (August 30, 2018).. the Reelin’ Feelin’ crew with 37 whites and a blue on their day trip. Nice work boys!
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.
CURRENT STANDINGS as of FRIDAY AUGUST 24 at 10:00am:
DAY 4 UPDATE:
Day Four dawned clear and breezy for the 124 boats heading offshore in the 2018 MidAtlantic tournament and crews were anxious to get back to the canyons. The back-end of the cold front that kept the entire fleet tied to the dock for the first time in the event’s 27-year history on Day Three left sea conditions a bit sporty for most of the day though it was reported conditions began to improve late in the afternoon today.
The big news of the day came in the white marlin category where Captain Bob Grant wheeled Leonard Tallon’s Gusto based out of Islamorada, Florida into third place after weighing a 69-pounder. Captain Jason Genthner had the Tighten Up from Mount Airy, Maryland on the board briefly with a 67-pound white marlin for 14-year old angler Nick Keller but that fish was bumped off the board by Gusto shortly after it was weighed. John Phelan’s Special Situation from Palm Beach, Florida and Justin Branning’s 3’s Enough from Wall, New Jersey remain atop the leaderboard with white marlin of 73-pounds.
As with the previous two fishing days, numerous blue marlin were released though none were weighed today and the category remains wide open.
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 as 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.
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 today 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.
Full Leaderboard Results: www.whitemarlinopen.com
Photos and interview conducted by Scott Kerrigan
For those passionate about fishing, ensuring that your kids enjoy time on the water is a very important (some might say life altering) consideration. For those who make a living as charter or private boat captains, creating a kid-friendly fishing environment is that much more important. The difference between creating a lifelong angler and a kid that will never fish again can be something as simple as making sure that the tackle and the target species are age appropriate.
Perhaps no one understands the importance of kid-friendly fishing modifications than Captain Fin Gaddy. Gaddy is not only a full-time charter captain (he runs the Qualifier, a 57-foot Paul Mann based in Manteo, North Carolina), but he is also the father of twin nine-year-old boys, Charles and Brown. Described independently as “the best nine-year-old marlin fishermen in the world,” the twins have benefited from Gaddy’s scientific approach to tackle modification and the never-ceasing quest to create the perfect kid fishing experience.
Beyond the many fish that Charles and Brown have caught in North Carolina and Mexico, the trio traveled to Casa Vieja Lodge to fish on the Rum Line with Captain Chris Sheeder. What follows is an in-depth description of the Gaddy family’s approach along with Sheeder’s steps to helping young anglers learn how to hook and fight their own sailfish. The lessons are applicable to anyone and may be applied to your unique fishing scenario. – ITB
Where did you get the idea for the tackle modifications for the boys? Can you describe the process of how it has evolved?
Fin Gaddy – “The first time we took the kids offshore, we used our general standup gear that we traditionally use for white marlin fishing, and we did well. We were using a full-sized chair and a Melton Hawaiian sling “youth” bucket harness. We put a cooler and milk crate on the footrest so that their feet would touch.
We quickly found that if a fish went down, the standup rods didn’t offer the length that we needed to clear the corners and stern of the boat. I talked with Drew at Rods By Drew and he made us a batch of 7’ rods with a faster tip so that we had the length to clear the wash boards. Then we had extra notches cut in the hockey sticks of the legs of the chair to be able to bring that footrest closer in.
My wife Nancy was scared about the kids getting pulled out of the boat at their young age, and so was I. If the leader got wrapped around the tip of the rod like what happened with Stewart Campbell, it would be terrible. You know a 45lb kid doesn’t have much resistance to getting yanked out of the boat. The Melton sling also offers a safety loop that we initially tied down tight to the chair. We eventually loosened up the loop as the kids got more comfortable with the weight and the drag being transferred from the reel and the harness. They also needed to be comfortable using their legs.
In Mexico with the rough water, we go for the release by touching the leader and then we put the reel in full and try and go for the tag. It was at that point the Charles learned how to straight leg a fish in the chair with his butt up and off the chair. This let him work a fish just like the heavy tackle anglers do.
Last year we came down to Guatemala and fished with David Salazar on the Finest Kind. His boat had short 4’6” kids’ standup rods built by Crowder for us to use. This worked out great since the kids tried stand-up our previous winter in Mexico and were now over the chair. These rods were built for kids and were a big improvement over any typical standup rod we had yet tried.
When I got back home I purchased a spread of those rods. These rods turned them into great anglers because the reel is right where it needs to be (approximately 13” from the tip of the reel seat to the butt), the grips are perfect, and this was a huge advantage to my son Brown when he caught two blue marlin standing up un-assisted during the Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament. I feel he could not have done that had we had those fish on any other type of tackle.”
Can you describe how the tackle modifications help the boys’ fishing, especially as it relates to fighting large fish?
Fin Gaddy – “The reel positioning is key to my kids’ comfort. Butt length is critical, even though they are not clipping into a shoulder harness. It’s all about leverage – if you consider the rod belt as the fulcrum, the longer the rod the more leverage the fish has on you. By decreasing that length, it gets your hand closer to the tip of the rod, giving the angler a mechanical advantage. We also went with a smaller reel because the kids’ hands are a lot smaller. By using braid, we’re able to use a reel that holds almost 500 yards of 25-pound test in a small package. This makes kids feel comfortable being able to fight larger class fish.”
What are the most important considerations for scaling tackle for youth anglers?
Fin Gaddy – “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of times you think that kids can use the tackle that you already have. When not matched properly, tackle really is almost detrimental to their enjoyment. A big rod that is not measured properly for a kid can turn things into an epic struggle. It’s not a matter of simply grabbing the shortest rod in the rod rack either.
There are several dimensions to consider. I tried a couple of rods from another manufacturer that were “youth style” and within one minute my son Brown said the grip is not long enough. He couldn’t get his hand to where he needed to have it to get comfortable. We work these things out at home in my man cave and get comfortable applying pressure to simulate the fighting of a fish.
The results of this research were proven recently while fishing at home. Brown caught a yellowfin and pushed the reel to full drag, catching a 45-pound tuna in no time. It was quite impressive on a fish that had 175-yards of line out on the first run. He made short work of that fish—that would make some adults crumble– using properly fitting tackle.
One thing to consider about these kids’ stand up rods is how they fit in the standard rod holder in the covering board of a boat. These are too deep for these rods so the reel ends up landing on the washboard. Using a gimbal lifter/spacer, whether it is from Melton or Solo Marine, enables the reel to ride up off the washboard. Not only is this set up more convenient for the mate, but we can to use the equipment without tearing things up.”
Are there any modifications that are not on the market, that you would like to be able to do?
Fin Gaddy – “Right now, I’m looking at the youth spinning rods I have. While watching my sons fight a fish, I feel like the reel is a little further away from the gimbal than I would like. Even though I think it is a great set up, I feel like cutting it down to shorten the butt and lower the reel. Then again, at this age they are growing so rapidly that I might cut it down, and turn around and find that they just outgrew what I modified. I’m very happy with the Crowder rods as an over the counter choice since they seem to be a quality rod and are relatively inexpensive at around $140 per rod.”
When describing their experience in Guatemala, Gaddy raved about the laidback, thorough approach of Captain Chris Sheeder. Beyond the fact that Sheeder is genuinely a hell of a nice guy and that his laid-back nature belies the fact that he grew up in Hawaii, Sheeder is really, really good at his craft. Beyond the importance of catching fish, there is no substitute for a patient captain and crew. When fishing with youngsters, teaching is important and there is no place for yelling about missed fish.
What do you do on the Rum Line to help junior anglers catch fish and enjoy the experience?
Captain Chris Sheeder – “Some of the obvious stuff, like Fin is using, is the shorter rod. This creates less leverage along with 16-pound test line lets us fish lighter drag. Both of these make it easier for the kids. Almost every youngster that comes on board wants to learn how to bait and switch. To help teach them, we will take all the bait out of the water. By just pulling teasers, we end up with less fish behind the boat. However, the fish that we do tease in will be a much more aggressive fish.
I’ll slow the boat down, we tease the fish to the boat. We let the kids hook the fish ten feet behind the transom. This makes it much more of a visual game for them. They actually get to see the bite, see what the fish does, and see the fish swim off with their bait. The kids get much more of an idea of what goes on during that bite so that later on, when we do things at full speed, and they play with one using just feel while knowing exactly what’s going on. If we do this 20 or 30 times, they are ahead of the game and the progression is much quicker.”
Fin provides a bit more context to the benefits of Sheeder’s approach, “Another advantage to slowing the boat down is that there will be less prop wash. This allows the fish to see the bait better, creating a slower, less aggressive bite. All of this creates an easier drop back for the kids,”
Whether for charter guests or sportfishing professionals, creating an environment that helps kids enjoy fishing is important. Fin Gaddy provides context, “Fishing has always been my comfort zone. So taking the kids fishing, for me, has always been a huge part of my life. It’s what my father did with me and I want to be able to do it with them as much as possible. They seem to enjoy it and it’s what works for us, giving me the chance to spend time with my kids.” Quality family time while fishing, it is possible.
The Hatteras Village Offshore Open, Orange Beach Billfish Classic, and Production vs. Custom Shootout are all InTheBite Sanctioned Tournaments that finished up this past weekend (May 15-20). Here is a look at the final results.. Congratulations to all the winners!
Winner Capt. Bull Tolson on Sea Toy: 1st Place – Levels I, II & IV and total of 800 pts.
Winners: Captain Jason Buck and Angler Katie Gonsoulin on the Done Deal with a 740.6lb Blue Marlin.
Production Vs. Custom Shootout-
Winner Capt. Ricky Spikes of Free Spool, a 62′ Viking – With 6 Blue Marlin and total of 2400 pts.
This mystery sea creature was caught in the Corner (Bahamas) last weekend. White marlin, spearfish, hatchet marlin, roundscale, hybrid, mutant? What do you think it is?Think you can identify this fish species?
Four captains, 20 tips for better live bait fishing
by Ric Burnley
Live bait is both the best bait and the worst bait. Nothing entices a fish to bite better than a wriggling and writhing forage fish dangling from the hook. Nothing gives anglers more trouble than catching, keeping and rigging livies. That’s right, you can’t live with live bait, and you can’t win without. Even if it takes a Master’s in biology and a PhD in engineering to effectively fish live bait, the only way to earn a degree is trial and error – lots of error. We asked four professors of baitology for their tips and tricks to success. Prepare to get bait schooled.
Captain Bouncer Smith
Location: Miami, Florida
Target Species: Sailfish
Live Bait: Bluerunners, goggle eyes
Fishing for sails with live bait came of age in the swift, wind-swept, ocean waters off of South Florida. Bouncer Smith (www.captbouncer.com) has spent 40 years chasing live bait and Atlantic sails. His small-boat live bait tactics, rooted in an eye for detail and driven by an iron will to win, have resulted in a long list of tournament wins.
Tip: We use two livewells. One is for baits that go from the hook to the livewell. The other livewell is for any bait that hits the deck or was touched in anyway.
Tip: Hold the sinker and keep the bait rig horizontal so the baits don’t rub against the leader. We keep the pristine baits for fishing or storing in a bait pen.
Tip: To remove dead baits from the live well, spear it with a tagging stick or wait for it to float to the surface and remove with a small net. Never put your hand into the tank.
Tip: We’ll go down to 30-pound fluorocarbon so the drag pressure must be reliable. I set the drag on my spinners to four-pounds, so I know I get five-pounds if the angler raises the rod tip. If the fish is hot, I tell the angler to point the tip at it. If the reel gets low on line, I’ll let the angler increase the drag ½ turn. I know that increases the drag pressure exactly one pound.
Tip: On the full moon and new moon, we always fish a bait 60-feet down. I let the bait out 30 feet. Then fold the leader over and slip the loop through the eye of a four to six ounce egg sinker. Stick a three-inch piece of No. 64 rubberband through the loop as a stopper.
Tip: It’s important that the bait move at the same speed as the current. During the last Miami sailfish tournament, the wind was going with the current. The rest of the fleet was fishing balloons but we decided to drift the baits. We hooked up on each drift through the fleet.
Captain Kevin Beach
Location: Venice, Louisiana
Target Species: White marlin, sails, tuna
Live Bait: Blue runners
“Live baits work perfect for targeting finicky fish focused in a small area,” explains Captain Kevin Beach. On his 37-foot catamaran, Pale Horse (www.mgfishing.com), he carries hundreds of live baits to the sea mounts and oil rigs off Venice, Louisiana. Pulling finicky fish from their twisted iron lair requires a flawless presentation and rock solid rigging. “I need enough power to turn a big marlin or tuna,” he starts, “while rigging light enough to fool a fish that’s seen it all.”
Tip: In early fall, whites and sails will hang over open water structure and temperature breaks. One or two degrees difference in temperature will get my attention. I’ll fish in one to 1.5 knots of current all day long.
Tip: Fish three baits. I use 80-, 100- and 130-pound leader. I always fish the biggest bait on the heaviest leader closest to the boat. Big fish aren’t afraid of the boat.
Tip: Use a rod and reel combo that you can cast. Lobbing the bait 30 yards away from the boat allows me to keep a bait in the water when we’re already hooked up to a fish. Also, I can set my spread without having to put the boat in gear.
Tip: Love your baits and they will love you back. I have three livewells and I use each of them. I spread the baits out to give them plenty of room. I’ll take 100 frisky baits over 500 less-than-frisky baits.
Captain Tony Berkowitz
Location: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Target Species: Striped marlin, sailfish
Live Bait: Big eye scad, Pacific mackerel
When serious anglers want to learn how to fish with live bait, they head south of the border. Captain Tony Berkowitz (www.sanlucasyacht.com) conducts daily seminars from Baja, Mexico. His courses on billfish and tuna are backed by tournament victories. Even in the land of live bait legacies, Berkowitz says staying ahead takes constant innovation and a lot of hard work.
Tip: If we know we’re going to use live bait and pitch baits we keep the spread simple. I run four baits: off the long riggers and short riggers and a bridge teaser. I leave an open lane down the middle to drop a pitch bait.
Tip: Bridle a caballito or big eye scad with floss and a matching hook. We tie a small swivel in the middle of our short leader to keep the line from twisting when we put a rigged bait in the livewell.
Tip: Slow down and drift into working fish. We drift one bait fly-lined and one deeper behind a barrel sinker.
Tip: I can’t cover a lot of ground while slow trolling live baits, so I wait until I mark the fish or see good sign before I deploy my baits.
Tip: We use a mackerel tube for pitch baits. It keeps the bait convenient to throw and prevents the leader from twisting.
Captain Randy Butler
Location: Virginia Beach
Target Species: White marlin
Live Bait: Tinker mackerel
Live bait fishing for white marlin is a relatively recent development on the mid-Atlantic. Captain Randy Turn has had Rebel (www.rebelsportfishing.com) in the middle of the action from the start. After hundreds of trips and thousands of hours targeting whites with livies, he’s created a system that he continues to develop. “I’ll never figure them out,” he admits, “something is always changing and I have to change to keep up.”
Tip: Switch up the teasers and dredge to find what the fish want. We’ll run one dredge, two dredges, big squids, small ones or flippy-floppys. We can rig live or dead tinkers as a teaser chain. Sometimes we’ll get more bites by pulling the teasers out of the water.
Tip: We always keep the spread out when we stop to catch more live bait. Many times we’ll draw marlin to the surface while we’re catching bait.
Tip: Find tinker mackerel on the bottom in 50 fathoms. Sometimes the bait will be higher in the water column. If we don’t catch bait right away, bring the rig up a few feet off the bottom.
Tip: A mackerel rig baited with strips of squid will catch tinker mackerel for bait. Add a waterproof strobe light to attract more tinkers to the rig.
Tip: Tinkers are a large meal for a white marlin. Give them time to eat. Let the fish turn the bait in its mouth and swallow it before coming tight on the line to set the hook.
Tip: As the line comes tight, give the rod a couple quick jabs to ensure the hook found its mark.
August 5, 2015: Help us decide if this is a White Marlin with a short bill(ITB Editor call) or possibly a very large Spearfish or even a Round Scale. The images were sent in by Justin Quattlebaum with some great photography. Just called t [Read more…]