Eight teams took off from their respective ports along the Jersey shore Saturday in hopes of winning Fluke-a-Thon 2 and the $400 first prize. Also at stake were cash awards for second and third, as well as a $400 largest fish Calcutta.
This was a follow up event to the first Fluke-a-Thon which was held back in mid-July. Although that one was billed as the 1st annual Fluke-a-Thon, the members and friends of New Jersey Saltwater Fisherman (NJSWF.com) just couldn't wait a whole year to have another one. And so, Fluke-a-Thon 2 was born. As Sam3, Global Moderator of NJSWF.com commented, the Fluke-a-Thon was "back by popular demand!"
Early weather reports suggested that the tournament might have to be postponed or canceled. But as tournament day grew nearer, the weather forecast improved greatly. And early Saturday morning Administrator and founder of NJSWF.com, Rod Houck (Hotrod), gave the all clear. Many of the boats in the northern part of the state took off in some nasty weather, including last month's Fluke-a-Thon champions, Team TNT who were fishing out of Atlantic Highlands. Team TNT captain, The Broken One, said, "Well, left the ramp around 6 in a blinding / driving rain.... turned on the XM Nexrad and actually looked rain free and fine for our destination.... set coarse(sp)and got there in beautiful conditions. Weatherman actually blew it again as the predicted S wind was SW, then straight north. Got rid of the slicks as it heated up quick and turned real nice."
That was fortunate for them since much of the pre-tourney talk was centered on who could actually beat Team TNT. They certainly had a bulls eye on their backs throughout the day.
Despite the beautiful weather, four teams did not weigh any fish. Team Brickken, Team Surf Rocket, Team Fluka Brasi and Team Hotrod all avoided the scales for this one.
Team Brickken out of Manasquan Inlet found a lot of action, but did not weigh in. According to Captain Ken, "We had a great day out there and had lots of fluke action... most of them short, but (we had) 3 keepers. Had the usual mixture of everything in addition to the shorts and keepers." He also added, "Congratulations to everyone; especially our top 3; Irish, TNT & Pilot."
Team Surf Rocket despite a bit of seasickness in the morning, reported catching close to 75 fluke and 100 sea bass. Unfortunately, they managed only two keeper fluke around 22" each and also did not weigh in. Said the captain of Team Surf Rocket, "It was a great day on the water, lots of shorts and sea bass. The keepers were tough though... also caught a seahorse and a tommy cod. In all hope everyone had as much fun as we did."
Team Fluka Brasi commented, "Whew! That was a looong(SP) day." And, "Congrats Team Irish Ayes TNT and Pilot! Great job by all. Nice work as well by the LS3 Team."
Team Hotrod out of Barnegat headed out to Garden State North and caught three nice keepers, including a hefty 23.5" fluke by Rod's dad. The fourth one proved elusive however and they decided to skip the weigh in as well.
Team Luna Sea 3 out of Atlantic Highlands had a mixed bag, including bluefish and a huge stargazer.
Team Luna Sea 3's captain Nick exclaimed, "Great time by all." To which Luna Sea 3 angler AJ added, "To all the boats and fishermen who participated in this Torney(SP): Congratulations! We are all winners and are blessed to be able to do what we love." They brought in a four fish limit, which weighed a respectable 12.09 lbs.
Third place went to Team Pilot, who just edged out Team Luna Sea 3 for that spot with a total four fish limit weighing 12.69 lbs. "Wow! Now that was one tuff(SP) day out there. The crew was running on 3 hours of sleep last night," Pilot explained. However, despite their sleepiness Team Pilot fished hard and hit many different spots to put together their third place catch. Added Pilot, "Overall, a good day with a lot of laughs. Looking forward to next years Fluke-A-Thon!"
With third place decided the battle was on for the top spot. Last month's champions, Team TNT tried their best to make it two in a row. But Team Irish Ayes was gunning for them, and this tournament was almost decided before 12:00. According to Captain Joe of Team Irish Ayes, "My first two drifts were fantastic. I thought we would limit out before noon. First drift was great. Second drift, just as good. Thought we would have a banner day. Two drifts, six keepers, two at about 24" each. Wow! Made several more drifts on this spot and nothing! The bite turned off like someone flipped a switch."
Captain Joe's crew finished the day motoring around, trying to find a drift and picking up a couple more fish in the process. But despite a slow afternoon, they came back to the dock with eight keepers with their top four weighing in at 18 lbs. even!" The hot bait for the day was whole squid", confessed Captain Joe.
The pressure was really on defending champs, Team TNT who got off to a slow start in the morning. Then the bite picked up. But according to Team TNT captain, The Broken One, "(I) dropped a bruiser right off the bat and thought here we go. (The) next bite I turned into a 6.61 boxer, a 4, a couple of 3's then some just OK keepers rounded out the rest of the day as the early tide change proved to be fatal." He went onto explain that the drifting conditions went downhill from there. To top it off, team member Mike (Bow Monkey), "also choked on a big fish that wasn't meant to be." Team TNT wound up with eleven keepers for the day and a total weight of 17.78 lbs. Which left them a scant 2 tenths of a pound short of the lead and Team Irish Ayes who captured first place!
However, despite their second place finish, Team TNT did manage to claim the $400 Calcutta, with a fat 6.61 lb. flattie! Said the Broken One, "Irish, congrats on the nice group of fish and win on a tuff(sp) day... Thanx(sp) again and congrats to all who participated."
The official results are as follows:
1st Place $400: Team Irish Ayes....18.00 lbs
2nd Place $280: Team TNT............17.78 lbs
3rd Place $120: Team Pilot.............12.69 lbs
Calcutta (heaviest single fluke) $400: Team TNT...6.61lbs
Congratulations to Captain Joe and the crew of the Irish Ayes; Bob Cole, Johnny Oz, Andy, John Burkle and Bob G, on their terrific win!
A huge ovation also goes out to Rod and the crew of NJSWF for pulling off another successful tournament in such a short period of time.
Here's to Fluke-a-Thon 3!