big shark

If you don’t have your boat in the water, now is the time to splash. There are plenty of fish around for captains and crews of back-bay size skiffs or the ever increasing flotilla of kayaks to the sportfishing craft for offshore.

Summer flounder season commences Friday, and for the large navy of anglers, this is the start of their favorite time. Bluefish have been beating it up around South Jersey for a month. Black drumfish first showed up in Great Bay and now are thick in the waters close to Cape May.

Yellowfin and bluefin tuna recently arrived in Wilmington and Spencer canyons.

Stealing the headline, however, is the weigh-in of an 820-pound mako shark caught Saturday on the Wildwood charterboat Missfit with Capt. Ron Kurian. The Missfit is a new boat in town docked at Shawcrest Marina, and Kurian said it was the maiden offshore voyage to “practice.”

Kurian reported Monday that Gary Blakla of Philadelphia was on the stick for more than an hour before he brought it to the side of the boat, And then, it took them an hour and half to figure out how to get it on board.

The 11-foot mako “breeched” three times, according to Kurian. And by the time they hauled the monster on board tail-first, everyone was “exhausted.” Kurian said he was still feeling it Monday.

Kurian said they had three other makos on, but lost them in rough seas of 6-8 feet. One of the makos straightened out a hook.

The near state-record mako was weighed and measured, and much photographed, at South Jersey Marina in Cape May. The state record is 858 pounds set in 1991.

It just so happens that the 35th Shark Tournament at South Jersey Marina is coming up June 10-13.

This offshore spring training of the crew of Missfit should get a few other shark fishers wired. The crew has been fishing together for years, Kurian said. The others are Fred Dirsh Sr. and Jr. and Paul Tsoukalas.

One neat sidebar to the story is that they prudently called the U.S. Coast Guard to report that they were going to be late getting back, and requested to notify the families of the crew that they were on the way and OK.

Kurian said the Coast Guard did that and then checked on them later to monitor their progress. Mark Allen reported in a South Jersey Marina press release that Coast Guard personnel were there at the dock to watch the weigh-in.

Flounder season near

Well, flounder season is finally near with much anticipation and preparation.

One change on the Absecon Island scene is the fact that Mike Tabasso, captain of the High Roller back-bay pontoon partyboat that targets flounder, added the well-known Fish N Fun pontoon boat that sailed from Margate to form a two-boat fleet at Gardner’s Basin in Atlantic City.

Tabasso has been catching bluefish weekends. He starts his regular twice daily schedule 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday and will use the Fish N Fun as a “spill-over” boat on busy days.

Sterling Harbor Marina in Wildwood reported that fishing “exploded” with tuna, tilefish, sharks, blues, drum and the first weakfish. One example: Joe Gillen on Y-Knot trolled 12 yellowfin tuna to 30 pounds, and added golden tile for Drew Bakley, Cape May, (35 pounds); Harry Cowen, Green Creek (27); and Kyle Killen, Wildwood (20).

The first big tournament of the season is June 6 with the Greater Atlantic Bluefish, now in its 27th year. The tournament is presented by Greater Atlantic Cancer Fund Inc. and adheres to the slogan “Neighbors Helping Neighbors Fight Cancer.” Funds raised provide assistance and direct grants to patients in need to help with insurance copays, medications, rent weekly bills and other expenses.

The entry fee is $250. The captain’s meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4 at Brigantine Elks Lodge, 400 W. Shore Drive, Brigantine. Box-check on fishing day, June 6, is 6 a.m. at Kammerman’s Marina. Atlantic City; Sheltered Cove Marina, Tuckerton; and Seaview Harbor Marina, Great Egg Inlet. For details, go to or GACF.Org.

Grassy Sound Marina in Wildwood is running its opening-day heaviest fish contest for slip holders and non-slip holders. There is no entry fee and the prize is a $100 gift certificate or a free day on a rental boat. Grassy Sound also runs a bigger flounder tournament, scheduled this year for June 27.

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Production Director

Started at The Press in 1993 as an Ocean County reporter. Moved to the copy desk in 1994 until taking over as editor of At The Shore in 1995. Became deputy sports editor in 2004 and was promoted to sports editor in 2007.

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