Joe Miller took Dream Catcher off to the deep Saturday in the Avalon Offshore Open. The crew supported angler Brian Durkin of Dennisville as he fought a white marlin to the boat and then released it.
The crew also fished seven people out of the water off a sinking boat. The Dream Catcher crew did not release them until they turned them over to the Coast Guard (see related story).
And when they got back to the dock in Avalon, they discovered they caught the only white marlin to earn the division honors of the 25th Offshore Open, which is release-only for billfish points and with tuna and mahi weigh-ins.
They caught the white marlin in the vicinity of the Hot Dog and were headed farther offshore when they picked up the distress signal on the radio.
Miller, 72, has a primary home in Ambler, Pa., and is retired from an investment business. The rest of the crew in addition to Durkin consisted of Craig Tomlin of Cape May Court House, Mike Fitzpatrick of Cherry Hill and Steve Pratico of Avalon.
American Honey with Craig Weber won the Offshore Open tuna title with a 50-pound yellowfin. Boss Lady and Bill May took second with a 48 yellowfin, and Bimini Twist and Ron Penska earned third with a 46-pound yellowfin. Lindsey Hudspeth won mahi with a 16.87-pounder caught on TLC, which is owned by her father, John. En Dur Fin and Len Warren won wahoo with a 50-pounder.
Pratico is the owner of SteMar docked at Avalon Sport Fishing Center, and he reported the results Monday for busy tournament organizer Jim Moran. All 20 boats entered competed in Saturday's final after captains opted to sit out the first two days, Thursday and Friday, because of poor weather and conditions.
The 43rd Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club White Marlin Invitational also had scheduled fishing days Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and also was affected by the stormy weather.
There was no action Thursday, but there were some decent catches Friday and Saturday. They weighed 26 tuna, one blue marlin and two mahi and registered four white marlin releases and two mahi Friday. On Saturday, there were 21 tuna and one wahoo weigh-ins, and nine white marlin and two blue marlin releases. Sixty boats entered.
Smokin Again with Tim Irons of Beach Haven won a hefty $108,137.50 with a 77-pound yellowfin tuna, according to the club's website. It was the second-heaviest tuna of the tournament, but Irons was in a couple of the pools to pile up the big bucks.
The heaviest tuna was a 162.8-pound bigeye on Big Dog owned by Craig Burrows of Beach Haven. That one collected $79,350. Tra Sea Ann and Robert Maretta of Brick Township earned $43,212.50 with a 323.5-pound blue marlin.
Bottom fishing at Garden State Reef South was the formula for all of the big fish caught in Saturday's flounder tournament run by Polly's Dock in Beach Haven, according to director Pat Damiani.
Nicole with Jim Bickle and Dave Olsen took the heaviest two-fish title with catches of 5 pound, 12 ounces and 3-10, and the first of those also took the single-heaviest honors. Big Pickle won sea bass at 1-13 and King Cobra won sea robin at 1-1.
Damiani said a lot of fish were caught by the 23 boats entered.
Mary Ann Anagnou said one of her regulars on Dad's Place fishing pier had a solid catch of kingfish on Saturday. Harold Tilley, who seems to make the journey from Philadelphia a couple of times a week, picked up nine kingfish and all were 12-15 inches, plus four bluefish. Incidentally, the daily charge for fishing on the Dad's Place pier in Hereford Inlet is $3.50.
She also said hard rain in North Wildwood on Sunday chased almost everyone away.
They did have rentals boats and all but two returned early when the threatening weather started to close in around 1-1:30 p.m.
But she said two rental boat crews stayed out during the start of the storms, and they had to wait for them to get back.
Anagnou said she "really, really" doesn't like lightning, so once the stragglers got back, she closed up shop and went home. She also said a couple of boats from Ocean City tucked into Hereford and tied up to docks at the marina to get out of the conditions and play it safe.
Kingfish and spot are in the surf at Ocean City, along with some spike weakfish, according to a report from Fin-Atics in Ocean City. The deeper reefs in the 65-85 feet of water are doing better with bigger flounder.
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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 on-line. 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: