Shep Hot Spot flounder Wildwood Reef

Fish for flounder at Wildwood Reef with minnows, squid, live or cut spot and croaker. Best time is on the incoming tide.

Great offshore fishing has to shove over to leave some room for a couple more big flounder.

John Sowerby, captain of Hooked Up II, reported some real interesting details about a recent journey to Washington Canyon, which has been the undeniable offshore hot spot for weeks.

Sowerby and Hooked Up II are part of Caveman Charters out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May. He said the Washington was "on fire" Saturday afternoon. They had a charter that racked up 17 yellowfin tuna of varying sizes up to as much as 50-60 pounds. They cranked in a 254-pound bigeye tuna and a mako shark estimated to be 125 pounds.

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And the trip started off slamming with a blue marlin hookup and release estimated to be 250-300 pounds.

Sowerby said they "put some heat" on the bigeye -- and all the tuna they hook -- and hauled it on board after a 40-minute standup battle with 30-pound class rod and reel. His rods and reels are filled with 100- to 130-pound test line on custom Calstar rods, and Penn or Shimano reels plus some Tiagra 30s.

Sowerby said there was some "world-class" bigeye action going on. He said Saturday's outing was the best of the season so far, and in recent years. He likes taking his charters on 24- to 30-hour trips so they get fishing at what he considers the best times from late afternoon into night and just before daybreak. He revealed that they troll for bigeye at 5.6 knots most of the time.

And he said they had another bigeye hooked but another boat ran across the line and broke it off.

More canyon catches

It is a long 115-mile ride to from Great Egg Inlet to Washington Canyon. Don Baumgardner of Longport and a crew on Unanimous that included Bill Lewis did an overnighter Saturday into Sunday that shows that maybe tuna are spreading out to a little closer to home here off South Jersey.

Lewis, who lives in Galloway Township, said they first went to Lindenkohl Canyon about 70 miles off. There they hooked up with two bigeye tuna. They missed the first one, but for an exciting reason: a mako shark attacked and then ate the bigeye at boatside. They got the other one in, and it weighed around 250 pounds. The picked up a yellowfin tuna, but the action slowed at the Lindenkohl.

They heard some radio chatter about tuna a few miles away at Carteret Canyon. So they picked up the lines and headed 7-8 miles north. Once there, they added longfin to the list of other tuna - bigeye, bluefin and yellowfin - caught by South Jersey-based crews and boats.

So there is some information from seasoned pros Sowerby and Lewis for captains and crews thinking about entering next week's 22nd Mid-Atlantic $500,000 big-league, big-game classic. The Mid-A 500 is not for the faint of heart. First, it costs $6,000 to enter as a basic fee and there are numerous side-pool wagers called Calcuttas that add to a total purse that could top $1.5 M.

Captains can call tournament director Bob Glover at 609-884-2400. Last-day signups are scheduled for 1-4 p.m. this Sunday with the captain's meeting at 4:30. Fishing days are Monday to Friday of next week (Aug. 19-23). The tournament is based at Canyon Club in Cape May with a satellite weigh station at Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Md.

Flounder time

So now for the flounder portion.

Rob Barrett at Dolfin Dock in Somers Point weighed in a 9.63-pound flounder caught Sunday by Paul Bennett of Egg Harbor City. Barrett said Bennett caught in the ocean right outside Great Egg Inlet. Barrett reported that Gabbi Korchiani of Mays Landing caught a 5.02-pound flounder with minnows and squid, but this one was taken from the back bays off Somers Point.

And Nick Coco of Philadelphia and crew caught eight keepers with the heaviest going 6.1 pounds on an unspecified reef off Great Egg.

Randy Peterson of Warminster, Pa., fished Cape May Reef on his boat Spool'd Rotten and caught a flounder that weighed 9 pounds, 13 ounces at Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood.

The Press Fishing Contest heads into the second half of the season with a couple of nice flounder entries.

Jay LeVance of Tuckerton won two flounder tournaments recently, and now he can add the weekly best-of bragging rights certificate part of The Press Fishing Contest, now in its 60th year. He had a 6-pound flounder July 28 to take the award for the week of July 28-Aug. 3. It was verified for the contest at Scott's Bait and Tackle in Mystic Islands.

Other recent flounder contenders include a 5.75-pounder from Barry Beck of Longport that was caught in the ocean off Great Egg and weighed at Captain Andy's Marina in Margate, and a 5.5-pounder from Stephen Voso of Margate that was caught in the back bays of Atlantic City near the windmills and certified at Ray Scott's Dock in Margate.

And one of the anglers fishing from the Dad's Place Pier in North Wildwood had nice surprise catch. According to Maryann Anagnou, a 29-inch striper was hauled up on the pier. That angler also caught kingfish and one short flounder.

O.C. club events

The Ocean City Fishing Club is celebrating its 100th year with lots of events.

It just had a youth tournament, and now has a big, three-day surf-fishing tournament scheduled for Oct. 17-19 on the beaches of Ocean City.

Club members just got a heavyweight surf-casting crew enter from Rodanthe on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It is the Advanced Fishing-USA team of six led by Ryan White, owner of Hatteras Jack Tackle Shop. White is a noted long-distance pro who, according to OCFC official George Ingram, averages 725 feet while casting. That's 2 1/2 football fields, isn't it?

The next open house at the OCFC pier is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22.

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