The offshore competition season starts to crank up this week with a couple of popular deep-water classics.

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club runs its 43rd White Marlin Invitational Tourn-ament and Moran’s Dockside presents its 25th Avalon Offshore Open. Both are Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Valerie Zak is a BHMTC member and tournament sponsor with her Oceanside Bait and Tackle in Brighton Beach.

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Zak and Bob Lefevre were the crew on Hot Tuna with captain Bob Gerkins that went on a scouting trip July 14, to Wilmington Canyon and returned with a couple of yellowfin tuna that took prizes in a BHMTC in-house prelim. Zak was the women’s winner with a 42.6-pound weigh-in and Lefevre got second in overall with a 41.9 yellowfin tuna. Hot Tuna also won the Calcutta.

They trolled Green Machines close to an area she called Alligator Bite.

Zak said Monday that she will not be fishing the 43rd WMIT because as usual she will be busy working both at her store during the tournament and at a vending location at contest headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Beach Haven.

“It will be very hectic,” she said.

Zak said this is an International Game Fishing Association-sanctioned event and boats from all over the East Coast are expected to enter.

The captain’s meeting is 8 p.m. Wednesday and fishing days are Thursday, Friday and Saturday with weigh-ins from 4:30-8 p.m.. The entry fee is $1,200. Contest divisions are white marlin, blue marlin and tuna.

The Avalon Open has a billfish-all release format with points determining blue and white marlin winners; plus first, second and third prizes for tuna and mahi weigh-ins, which are 5:30-7:30 p.m. each fishing day. Captains get to choose one of the three days they plan to fish.

The captain’s meeting for this one is 6 p.m. Wednesday on the deck at Avalon Fishing Center, 14th and Ocean Drive in Avalon. Call 609-368-1321 for details.

Jim Moran said local skippers were out Monday on scouting trips of their own, and he would know more about what’s going on offshore when they return.

The Mid-Atlantic $500,000 is Aug. 19-24 out of the Canyon Club in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Md. The White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md., is Aug. 6-12. The Ocean City Marlin & Tuna Club gets its 35th Overnight Billfish going with fishing days Sunday to Aug. 3. They are other offshore classics popular with area sportfishers.

In other news, don’t think that all the big flounder have left the back bays because the water is warming and driving them into deeper waters.

In a remarkable coincidence, Moran was filling out a Press Fishing Contest entry form for the Women’s Division when contacted Monday afternoon. It was for a 5.70-pound flounder caught by Kim Luzeckgj — he double-checked the spelling, he promised — from Colorado on Monday morning in the back bays of Avalon. The stretch of water off the Avalon Yacht Club is usually one of the top spots in that area.

A few miles north of that — inside Corson’s Inlet bridge back to the public boat ramp in Strathmere and to the end of Flat Creek behind Sea Isle City — flounder fishing showed some improvement.

A report from Frank’s Boat Rentals in Strathmere described some very decent catches with multiple keepers over the past few days or so. Bill and Rob Kingston of Philadelphia combined for seven keepers and Dave Biedler of Boyertown, Pa., had the heavyweight of the recent catches with an 81/2-pound flounder. Eliza Burget, an 8-year-old from Lansdale, caught a 191/2-inch flounder.

Jingle’s Bait and Tackle in North Beach Haven reported the stretch of water from the osprey nest down toward the inlet also had flounder. One crew racked up seven keepers Sunday, according to Margaret O’Brien at Jingle’s.

Inshore reef and wreck action for flounder, sea bass, porgy and even kingfish was going strong before being interrupted by rough conditions.

Minnows, squid and Gulp were the main attractions for flounder there and elsewhere. Live spot — of which there are plenty just about everywhere — are another prime bait for flounder and most other species of fish.

A couple of back-bay tournaments are also coming up this week.

The Absecon Saltwater Sportsmen were forced to postpone the Roy Kerstetter Open to this Saturday, according to an email from club member Ed Goldman. That gives anglers extra time to register for $65 per boat at 7 p.m. Friday at the Absecon American Legion Post 28, New Jersey Avenue and Mill Road. The tournament has divisions for flounder, bluefish and weakfish. Money raised goes to a “Day on the Bay” for special-needs children. The contest was originally scheduled for last Saturday.

Polly’s Dock in Beach Haven runs its fluke tournament Saturday, too. It is a two-heaviest fish event for cash and prizes that has an entry fee of $100 per boat and $25 for surf-fishing. In addition, there are single-heaviest divisions for sea bass, bluefish and sea robin. Sign up at the captain’s meeting 7 p.m. Friday at Polly’s, 112 West End Ave., Beach Haven. Call Pat Damiani at 609-492-2194.

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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His Shep on Fishing column and Shep’s Hot Spot appear Tuesdays and Saturdays in the sports section and daily online. Call 609-350-0388 or email

You can also hear Shep’s on-air fishing reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7:05 p.m. on WOND 1400 AM and on our website:

Shep’s Hot Spot

Drift for weakfish with Hopkins and white tails and flounder with minnows, squid and Gulp in the backs bays off Mordecai Island, the osprey nest and out to Little Egg Inlet inside the southern end of Long Beach Island.


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