John Sowerby is the experienced captain of the charterboat Hooked Up II that docks at South Jersey Marina in Cape May. He's been fishing offshore for more than a few years.
When he says the tuna fishing offshore is the best he's seen in 20-25 years, you can book it.
He had a group from Detroit out to the Hot Dog on Thursday and wore them out. They wanted to head back early after fighting 14 bluefin tuna. Sowerby said they hooked up four in the first 15 minutes they got there.
He also sailed to Washington Canyon, which is a 90-mile journey south of Cape May, and had bluefin and yellowfin, and has had good action on yellowfin 20 miles north of Poorman's.
When he was trolling into Washington Canyon on one of those trips, he hooked up and released a 400-pound blue marlin and a few white marlin.
Washington Canyon seems to be the distant offshore hot spot. Sowerby reported Friday that wahoo, mahi and skipjacks are in the mix there.
And he said tuna are spread all the way from there north. There have been reports of tuna at Massey, Lindenkohl and Spencer Canyon.
He said he had water temperatures of 77-78 degrees where he was fishing.
More offshore action
Michael Del Rosario, of Margate, is a sportfisherman with the recognizable boat Sturgeon General. Del Rosario, like many private boat captains, has not been offshore much because of the relentless winds and rains. But he had a crew out in what he described as "near-flat" ocean Tuesday to the 30-Fathom Line. They got there before sunrise and soon had a knockdown. Del Rosario said it was a bluefin that ran off lots of line and broke off.
He said in an e-mail that nothing else happened while trolling the 30-Line, so he picked up and moved off to Lindenkohl. There, they hooked up with four yellowfin tuna in the 30- to 50-pound range. Textbook offshore tactics.
He had a full crew on board: Ken Hayek, of Mays Landing, Steve Hinkley Sr. and Jr., of Linwood, Vince Azarcon, also of Linwood, Anthony Chicarine III, of Marmora, and Jeremy Juffe, of Atlantic City. Del Rosario said Chicarine is a recent high school graduate who plans to study marine biology.
All this offshore activity is timely because two big-game tournaments are scheduled for next week.
The 44th Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club's White Marlin Invitational is Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Captains will get to fish two days of their choice. In addition to white marlin, there are divisions for blue marlin, tuna, mahi and wahoo. Registration is $1,200 per boat by the captain's meeting from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday. They have numerous Calcutta pools set up.
The Avalon Offshore Open is headquartered at Moran's Dockside at Avalon Sportfishing Center. Fishing days are the same, Thursday through Saturday. The only difference is that captains get to choose one day for fishing. The entry deadline is this Sunday with a registration fee of $450 per boat. The captain's meeting is at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Call Moran's at 609-368-1321.
It also has been a great week for flounder fishing in the back bays. Robin Scott at Ray Scott's Dock said it makes enduring the heat "worthwhile," and Don Brown at Capt. Andy's Margate Sport Fishing Center said it was "on fire." Both establishments are in Margate.
The Mendenhall father and son team, Bill Sr. and Jr., and Skip Van Lew made their regular trip from Downingtown, Pa., to Ray Scott's Dock and it ended with their usual results - or maybe this time a little better than usual. Robin Scott said they have a routine. They depart in the dark between 5-5:15 a.m. and are fishing by 5:30, so the tides mean nothing to them. They insist on minnows and each has his separate one-quart stash in different buckets. They had 88 hookups on flounder, limiting out and returning the rest. They had fish up to more than 5 pounds.
That's about as good as it gets.
And Robin Scott reported that it looks as though the minnow shortage is over. They apparently got plentiful in the warm and much cleaned-up back-bay waters.
Mary Ann Anagnou reported it was a great couple of days at Dad's Place in North Wildwood. Bernie Mazzochi, of Pennsylvania, took a rental boat out in the waters inside Hereford Inlet and had eight keepers, five of which he kept. Four anglers fishing from the Dad's Place Pier had 12 weakfish total, each keeping the one they are allowed. And Anagnou said there were a lot of kingfish caught from the pier with bloodworms.
Brown is one of the organizers of the first Timmy Mitchell Flounder Tournament, which is set for next Saturday. It's a heaviest-three total weight contest and the entry fee is $20. Anglers can sign up at Capt. Andy's and fish from boat, beach, jetty, piers, et cetera. There will be a banquet afterward at Maynard's Cafe in Margate.
Robin Scott also reported some boaters fishing in the ocean caught tinker mackerel. We have not seen mackerel in close around here in a number of years.
The New Jersey Beach Buggy Association's fishing outing for veterans from the Vineland Veterans Home scheduled for today in Stone Harbor was cancelled because of the excessive heat. That message was from NJBBA president Paul Harris. There is no back-up date.
Ray Scott's Dock and Shep Talking Fishing on Air have teamed up to award a free five-hour back-bay fishing trip for up to four each month during the season. And believe it or not, the August trip drawing is coming up. There are four ways to enter: call Shep Talking Fishing in Air from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays on News-Talk 1400 WOND or Ray Scott's at 609-822-6819 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays and Tuesdays in the sports section. Call 609-350-0388 or email:
You also can hear Shep on 1400 AM from 7-8 a.m. Saturdays, plus reports Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:05 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 7 p.m. on 1400 AM and on our website: