Captains in this week's 36th Ocean City Marlin & Tuna Club's Overnight Billfish classic might want to go to school on the 26th Avalon Offshore Open and a couple other reports about recent successful big-game catches.

Tim Davis at Moran's Dockside in Avalon reported that Addiction and owner Bill Fox caught the heaviest tuna, 139 pounds, in the Avalon Offshore. American Honey and Craig Weber took second at 84 pounds.

TLC and John Hudspeth earned third at 78 pounds in the tuna category and in the mahi division with a 10.69 pounder. That was the only crew to fish opening day. Conditions were rough Thursday and the rest of the fleet elected to stay dockside.

Feet First, aptly named because owner Dr. Brian Melley is a podiatrist, was the mahi winner at 12.52 pounds, and Four of a Kind with Chris Carr were second.

Realer Dealer with Brian Hoskins had the only white marlin release.

Other highlights of the Avalon competition included two nice wahoo, a 67-pounder on American Honey with Bob Scittina the angler or record and a 51-pounder by Zach Baum on Chelsea Lynne III.

Davis said the Avalon Offshore has an 80-mile range maximum. Davis revealed most of the fish in the three-day tournament that ended Saturday were in Wilmington Canyon, and they were caught trolling ballyhoo naked or with skirts and with dredges.

More tourney talk

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club's 44th White Marlin Invitational also started Thursday and ended Saturday. Goin' In Deep was the winner of $53,710 with a 203.6-pound bigeye tuna, according to the contest website.

Hubris and Damien Romeo racked up four bigeye tuna to take the overall tuna champion award. They weighed 163.6, 136.6, 117.1 and 90.9, and added up to $41,035. We will have more details on this major Long Beach Island event in Saturday's column.

John Sowerby runs the Hooked Up III from South Jersey Marina as part of Caveman Charters. He added another great trip to his resume Saturday. He had his charter jigging with sardines at 30-Fathom Lumps and hooked up with bluefin tuna that went between 125 and 160 pounds. After boating one, he moved off to Poorman's Canyon and went 5-for-7 on yellowfin tuna and added five mahi in a few hours of trolling.

Jerry String of Undercover Charters out of Sea Isle City also had another great trip, also inshore of the canyons, and also on Saturday

He took Steve Cowan and his sons Reed and Evan, and Tim Hand and Tyler String to near the Hot Dog, where they chunked. Evan caught his first Bluefin and Tyler - Jerry's son - caught and released a 52-inch bluefin. Reed also fought a 61-inch bluefin estimated to be 121 pounds before release. Jerry String reported that all of the fish grabbed live spot for breakfast before 7 a.m.

Then they moved off to Baltimore Canyon for tilefish. Hand hauled up the biggest, a 20-pound golden tile. String said they weighed the fish at Two Chums in Sea Isle City.

The OCM&TC Overnight runs all week. Weigh-ins are 1-4 p.m. today through Saturday at the Ocean City Yacht Club, and they are open to the public. They won't be weighing any white or blue marlin if they are around because it a release-only billfish tournament. They could be bringing bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin tuna, along with mahi, mako shark, wahoo and maybe even a swordfish back to the dock for weighing.

We are just at the start of the offshore competition. The heavyweights - the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City, Md., and the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 - are coming up. The WMO open runs Aug 5-9.

The 22nd Mid-Atlantic will go from Aug. 18-23 based at the Canyon Club in Cape May with a satellite weighstation at Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Md. Captains get to fish three of the five fishing days. There are divisions for white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, mahi and wahoo. Call 609-884-2400.

Flounder and more

Can't overlook flounder and a wide variety of species just because big-game fish are around.

Jay LeVance of Tuckerton put a second flounder title in his record book. He won the first Timmy Mitchell Flounder Tournament on Saturday with a 5.91-pounder. Back on June 30, he took the title with a 3-15 flounder in the Yacht Club of Pleasantville. After he won Saturday, he went out the next day and picked off 6- and 5.5-pound flounder.

Ed Berger of Margate took second and third in the Timmy Mitchell contest, which was headquartered at Maynard's Caf� in Margate.

Brennan Marine in Somers Point reported that the catch of the week there belonged to Tim Fitzick with a 24-inch, 13.31-pound sheepshead caught with green crab at the Longport-Ocean City toll bridge fishing pier. Brennan also reported a 12.23-pound striped bass was caught at night from the Somers Point gazebo by Bruce Allen with clam as bait.

Everything from kingfish, big spot, croaker, small to medium bluefish, and still some weakfish and stripers, are in the surf and bays; little tunny, bonita,

Spanish and king mackerel are starting at East Lump and Sea Isle Ridge, according to Matt Slobidjian at Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May; and 2-pound kingfish and a 25-pound black drum surprised customers on the Royal Flush partyboat out of Wildwood.

The 60th Press Fishing Contest, which runs to Oct. 31, offers weekly bragging-rights certificates in addition to 12 grand prizes. Chip Romp of Centerport, N.Y., earns one with a 242-pound bigeye caught July 14 at Washington Canyon; and Pam Woerner of Northfield takes one for a 4 1/2-pound albino catfish caught in Bargaintown Lake. Moran's weighed the bigeye and Dolfin Dock in Somers Point certified the catfish.

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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:

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