This tournament is huge. I heard it described as “bigger than Baltimore!” All citizens of that fair city, please realize that that was not my comment. But the tournament is big and very well organized and smoothly run.
I met dozens of old friends and was stopped several times by Marlin readers, who were kind enough to introduce themselves and thank me for being forthcoming with information that I have been lucky enough to pick up in my travels. I also learned a couple of new twists in New Jersey that will be discussed later on.
The big money is all for fish on the dock. The biggest white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, wahoo and dolphin are all worth more than first place in many tournaments, and the team with the most release points gets a nice trophy but no moola.
The team I fished with decided to try for a blue marlin. Since the biggest blue weighed in was only 416 pounds, we felt like we were in the hunt until the last few seconds ticked off on the GPS, but it was not meant to be. There were only a handful of blues released and hundreds of whites.
We made long runs. Some days we both started and ended the day more than 100 miles from our home base in Cape May. It made me appreciate places like the Great Barrier Reef, where the crew of the mother boat could watch the black marlin we had on jump, less than a mile away, only a few minutes’ run from the protected anchorage behind the outermost reef.
I got home from Cape May just in time to do a few chores that would have been essential if Hurricane Isaac had not changed course and churned into the Gulf of Mexico.
The relief I felt when the storm veered westward was tempered by a nagging guilt — the feeling that my good luck was someone else’s misfortune. The storm was far worse than any Category 1 storm I could imagine.
Now we are in what has historically been the most active part of the season, and I have noticed more boats in the dry storage yards of the local boatyards.
A few years ago I wrote a piece titled “It’s the Fetch, Stupid!” Boat owners should not leave their boats in a body of water with even as little as a half mile of open water. If you have a dock on the Intracoastal Waterway, move your boat to a more sheltered location on a canal or get it into a yard!
A cubic yard of water weighs roughly a ton (2,000 pounds). Waves crossing a half mile of open water under the force of hurricane-strength winds can build to over 6 feet in height, sending ton after ton of water against boats and docks. Take precautions well ahead of time, and let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope the fish bite in the meantime.
Snook season just opened up, and I hear they are biting. I will try to go in the middle of the week, in the daytime, when there will be less of a zoo in the inlet.