It’s tournament season for fishermen

August 5, 2017

August is the time for a couple of fishing tournaments in our area. Both offer big prize money and both will be very well attended.

The first one in August is the White Marlin Open, held out of Ocean City, Md. It will run Aug. 7-11 and boats may fish any three of the five days. The basic entry fee is only $1,000 with a payout of $50,000 for the largest white marlin. Many of you are aware that the 2016 Open paid out over $3 million. This is the figure after all the various Calcuttas have been tallied. To enter all of them will set you back well over $20,000.

I have been a part of this contest since the very first one was held 44 years ago. No, I haven’t been a paid participant; I have just been lucky enough to ride along as a reporter.

That first year, I rode with Jim Motsko, the originator of the tournament, and he is still running the operation. I have always thought Jim and his committee did a great job controlling all the massive egos that just come with the territory. Last year was certainly a major test, and Jim came through with flying colors. Sending the case of the cheating captain and crew to a judge allowed the tournament to step back from the controversy. The judge made the correct decision, and now the 2017 contest can proceed with no outstanding problems.

The last time I rode along was on the Penta Gone with Capt. Eddie Szilagyi. For the first time we had a possible contender in the white marlin category and were able to pull into the weigh station. Even though I knew no one on the boat was going to win any money because Volvo Penta had us all sign a waiver that any money won would go to the company, it was still an exciting time. Our fish took third place until the next day when a larger white marlin took us out of the competition.

The weigh-in is held at Harbour Island, 14th Street and the bay. If you don’t mind a little traffic and large crowds, this is a real fun party. The boats come in to the dock and when their fish is hoisted on the scales, a big cheer comes from the crowd. If the fish knocks another from first place, the folks go wild. You may also watch this event from the comfort of your home online at the White Marlin Open website,

Flounder Pounder

A tournament that is closer to home and bit easier to afford is the Flounder Pounder Tournament out of the Paradise Grill in Long Neck, sponsored by Short’s Marine. The contest will take place Aug. 18-20, and boats can fish two out of the three days.

The boat that weighs in the heaviest flounder will walk away with either $100,000 or a brand-new Scout 25.5 boat, motor and trailer package.

The entry fee is $250 per boat and $100 per angler with as many as eight anglers allowed per boat. If the entry fee is not paid by Monday, Aug. 7, the cost will increase to $300 per boat and $125 per angler. The entries will close Sunday, Aug. 13. There is also a $50 Calcutta for the boat that weighs in the heaviest two-fish stringer. A $50 donation will be made to the Tunnell Cancer Center for every boat entered.

While boats out of Cape May, N.J., and Ocean City, Md., may fish in the tournament, they must fish in the ocean or in Delaware waters. Lines are in at 7 a.m. and out by 5 p.m. All fish must be weighed at the Paradise Grill by 6 p.m.

Even though the flounder fishing has not been great this year, it only takes one fish to walk away with $100,000. The payouts from second on down are not too shabby either, beginning with $40,000 for second place. I would think about getting up a crew and taking a chance on taking home a lot of money for one flounder. All the rules may be found by going to Google and putting in Flounder Pounder Tournament.

Fishing report

Fishing is generally slow from the canyons to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Tuna, marlin, dolphin and wahoo have been caught offshore from the Hot Dog, Massey’s Canyon and Baltimore Canyon on down to the Washington Canyon. Trolling is the way to go in the canyons, while chunking seems to produce the best results at the lumps.

Closer to shore, the Old Grounds has seen better flounder action with a few boats catching close to their limit. I have heard very little from any of the reef sites.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at