Flounder Pounder winners prove skill takes the pot
Last weekend the Flounder Pounder Tournament was held out of Paradise Grill in Long Neck with a $100,000 first-place prize. All you had to do was catch the largest flounder among the more than 300 boats fishing two of the three days.
Sometimes these one-fish tournaments are won by luck, as in a blind pig finding an acorn. Such was not the case this time. The first-place flounder, an 11.4-pounder, was caught by Capt. Brent Wiest. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he runs the Katydid out of Lewes and often shows up in fishing reports because he is very successful at catching fish.
Second place and $40,000 went to Robert Karpovich with a 9.8-pound flounder. He was part of Team Gotcha with Capt. Dave Walker. Walker is the son of Joe Walker, one of the best flounder fishermen who ever wet a line. I have not fished with Dave, but I did fish with his dad and got a pretty good idea how they both operate. By the way, Dave Walker was once Capt. Wiest’s mate on the Katydid.
The day I fished with Joe Walker was pretty typical for him. We worked the various rubble at the reef sites in the lower Delaware Bay. When I say worked, that’s exactly what I mean. Joe must have had a hundred or more GPS waypoints for each site. He set up his drifts to cover as many as possible under the existing conditions of wind, tide and current. Any spot that produced a flounder was drifted over again and again until no more flounder were caught.
Joe had a weakness for strips of flounder as bait. I disagreed with him on that, having made it a point to never use flounder strips even back in the day when you kept all the flounder you could catch no matter the size and cutting belly strips from small flounder was a common practice. There is no argument that Joe caught more and bigger flounder than anyone fishing in the bay or ocean, but I contend he did this because he worked so hard and not because he used flounder strips as bait.
On the day I fished with Joe there was a couple that Joe knew fishing the same sites as we were. Back at Lewes Harbour Marina where we were having our limit of flounder cleaned, this couple also showed up. They complained that there were no flounder in the bay since they had been skunked. Then they noticed our flounder on the cleaning table and could only marvel at Joe’s success.
After Brent put his big flounder on the board and Robert followed with his, someone on Saltfish asked where in the heck these guys found those fish. Of course, they aren’t about to give out any GPS locations, but even if they did, most anglers would still not have the patience and skill to fish the spot properly.
Back to the tournament results. Capt. Randy Swain on the Adventurous was third with a 9.5-pound flounder to take home $20,000. Fourth place and $10,000 went to the Top Notch and Capt. Chris Curlett. Wrapping up in fifth place was angler Kevin Garber fishing on the Pig Boy with Capt. Rick Ritter. They had an 8.5-pounder that paid out $5,000.
The tournament also awarded $16,350 to the Tunnell Cancer Center.
There was a $50 per boat Calcutta, and those winners weighed in the two heaviest fish. Team Gotcha added to their winnings with a check for $7,000, and Team Adventurous came in second and put another $4,200 in their pot. Third place and $2,800 went to Maker’s Mark, taking their total for the contest to $102,800.
There were choices to be made by each of the five winners, as they could take the money or one of a selection of boats put up by Short’s Marine, a sponsor of the tournament. All winners went for the cash.
You might think that after the tournament there would not be a keeper flounder within a hundred miles of Delaware, but such was not the case. Several nice fish and even limits were recorded on Monday and Tuesday. We were at Lewes Harbour Marina Tuesday when Aidan Devane came in with a 6.95-pound flounder that he caught on a clam at the Old Grounds while fishing aboard the Martha Marie.
Delaware Bay is seeing a few more flounder caught over reef sites and from the fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park where a couple of 4-pounders were taken on minnows jigged along the pilings. Croaker and spot have also been caught from the pier on bloodworms.
The weekend looks good, so get out and fish.