Gentlemen, start your engines – somewhere around 2 a.m. tonight. Boats will be heading out through Absecon, Barnegat Inlet and LE Inlet.
What is looking to be the biggest White Marlin Invitational Tournament of all time, saw a meeting of the minds this evening as captains arrived to officially sign up, hand over money and, well, hand over more money for Calcuttas.
I’ll have the exact entrant number tomorrow but tourney director Phil Hiller said pre-registration, coupled with last-minute assurances the skies will be highly cooperative, could mean a 100 or more boats in the big water melee. By the looks of the intense crowds at the clubhouse for the kick-off dinner and beverage(s) affair, a slew of top trollers are in the game and the competition will be ceiling high.
Phil credits the super turn out to the year-long effort by club volunteers to build up this, the club’s biggest event. “The membership makes this all come together. It’s a lot of work,” said Phil during a short break he took before once again assuming the deluge of last-minute must-dos. Within minutes I got a strong sense of the logistics involved with properly executing this tourney.
In reference to enhanced efforts to get blogs, photos and media updates out to not only the anglers but also the public, Phil said that is now one of the big aims in improving the event. “It’s already historic so we want to get it out to the public.”
INSIDER CHATTER: The big word among the big-water boys is bluefin. Unlike most WMITs, when it is a veritable dash for the canyons, a far-too-distant Gulf Stream (try 200 miles to reach really nice tuna and billfish waters) and lackluster-looking water from the Hudson to the Baltimore, informed minds are closely monitoring the nearer-in bluefin tuna action. It is enticingly close (heading south) and giants are in the mix. Virtually every captain I talked to was wondering out loud whether it was worth it to make either a side-trip or a dedicated day out of bft hunting. On a whole, most of that wondering will likely go to the wayside later tonight as guys still make the long haul to the likes of the Lindy – my pick for the winning fish. That’s just a fun guess – not meant to transform anyone’s plans.
As for what two days out of three will see the angling action, every single captain I talked to was targeting tomorrow and the next day. The most I got to the contrary was from an angler who said they might consider Saturday “if” they did go bft.
Somewhat comically, entrants are talking about Saturday’s weather as if a hurriquake was on the menu. Truth be told, it will likely be very calm all weekend, with maybe some T-storms nearer inshore. That fear of Saturday is humorous only because previous WMITs have seen all three days of the contest sporting serious skies with small craft advisories or even gales. This year it’s gonna be a breeze – if that.
I had a chat with weighmaster Kurt H. He’s ready to roll when the weigh-ins begin arriving tomorrow. Kurt knows the event may be short on hoistable hookups. While that will make life a tad easier for the weigh-in crew, Kurt said, “I’d like to see everyone have a chance to get a fish. It only takes one good fish to qualify.”
On a more technical side, Kurt made a request that all contestants heading in to weigh a fish have the paperwork ready ahead of time. In the past, the whole weigh-in system bogged down when boat crews were busy filling out forms while idling just outside the club’s dock. “They make that long trip in then wait until they’re about to come in to start filling out the paperwork, said Kurt, adding. “We gotta keep these boats movin’ in and out.”
By the by, there will be a tournament boat in the bay outside the club lagoon. After boats are Ok’ed by that boat, captains will proceed into the lagoon for turn-around. Once west-facing, boats will proceed dockside where a dockmaster will direct docking.
For those crews a tad dazed by the day’s work, Kurt and his crew will hop aboard and hoist the weighable catches off the boat. Hey, that help is greatly appreciated in many instances. Helping this year’s weigh-ins will be high tides right at the right time. Thanks, planet.
More in here tomorrow – with a couple entries, so check back.