World class Flounder Pounder Open tips the scale
Over the weekend the largest flounder tournament in the world was held at Paradise Marina in Long Neck, Delaware, the Flounder Pounder Open.
Anglers were fishing for two out of three days for the top prize of $100,000. In fact, anglers were competing for $175,000 and the Caluttas topped out at $12,000. It was an exciting three days at the scales.
The first day it was rather sporty or nautical offshore, and only forty boats tried for a fish. The few that made it to the scales were under five pounds, but for a day those anglers were in the five prize categories. The action at the scales was a lot of fun watching the reactions of the anglers and the crowd when their official weights were announced. At the end of the day we had a tie at first place with two flounders at four pound six ounces. The next day was going to be much different.
The anglers that chose to fish Friday did so because some of their anglers had to work on Saturday. They chose the bad weather day and Sunday to fish. On Saturday over 315 boats hit the water with about 1,200 anglers. We knew we would see some big fish at the scales. Some of the best flounder anglers on Delmarva were fishing Saturday. I expected to see some very big fish.
Every day the scales opened at four in the afternoon; anglers had to have lines in by five and then had to be at the marina or on the property by six. Scales would stay open until the last fish was weighed. Friday that was no big deal, we only saw about twenty fish to the scales. On the other hand, Saturday was crazy busy at the scales. We couldn't see the end of the line for a solid two hours. I heard it went all the way into the parking lot. With the Calcutta rules, everyone wanted to weigh their fish. The Calcutta was set up that the combined weight of your heaviest fish each day would determine the winner. So the combination of a ten pound and a five pound flounder made for a 15 pound Calcutta. On Saturday just about every boat weighed a fish. I know we weighed in over 250 fish, and were there until 7:45 p.m. I was on stage webcasting the scales live on the Delaware Surf Fishing Facebook page. Chuck Wallace was the scale master and he was working harder than those boys you see at the docks when the fish boats come to port. Al Tortella, the owner of Paradise Marina, was the emcee. About an hour into the weigh-ins I jumped in and helped keep the line organized and flowing.
When the first big fish came to the scales the crowd went nuts. It was a big flounder. The leader board was changed over several times Saturday evening. At the end of the day, the smallest fish on the board was eight pounds at twenty-six inches. Almost double the weight of the previous first-place fish. Halfway through the weigh-ins I got a text. "There is a thirty-plus-inch fish back here." I knew we would be seeing a new leader very soon, that fish would easily top out at ten-plus pounds. At the moment we were in the nine-pound range. When that fish came to the scales and Chuck lifted it over his head to show the crowd, the place went nuts; it was electric. The fish's length was announced at thirty inches and we all knew this fish could hit eleven pounds; she was thick. The scales tipped out at eleven pounds four ounces! Boom! Team Makers Mark was the new leader in the Flounder Pounder Open 2017. They had Sunday to fish as well and knowing these boys many figured they would hold that position with that doormat of a flounder. Anything can happen on any day in a tournament. We ended the day with a nine-pound flounder as the smallest on the leader board. The next day would be the last day.
Sunday we get set up and anticipate another long day at the scales. There are 300 fishing and over twelve-hundred anglers. The one advantage we might have is the fact that if the combined weights for the Calcutta can't beat the current board, there really isn't any reason to weigh the fish. We let the anglers know that if they wanted to save time and not wait in line to keep an eye on the Calcutta board. Of course we weighed in a lot of fish and the leader board changed up a few times. It was another exciting day at the scales and a few upsets occurred. Team Gotcha was knocked off the board, but when they came to the scales they were right back in second place. Dave Walker and the boys know how to pound flounder. Captain Brent Wiest and team Makers Mark still held first place all day. The scales closed at six since the boats were all in and accounted for. It was not as long a day, but we had some celebrating to do at the awards ceremony.
The first presentation at the awards ceremony was for the Tunnell Cancer Center. Fifty dollars from every boat entry went to the center totaling over $16,000. Let's Pound Cancer is the slogan for the Flounder Pounder Open. After that the fifth place winners were given their trophies all the way up to the five-foot trophy for first place. Then the teams started spraying champagne all over the crowd and themselves. Before that celebration the winning captains were given captain's cups and they hosed the crowd down with champagne at the scales. It was great day and Paradise Marina did a great job holding the world's largest flounder tournament, the Flounder Pounder Open. See you at the scales next year.
Fishing is getting a little better in the surf. Some smaller summer blues are starting to hit mullet rigs. The usual kingfish, croaker, spot, and sand perch are out there too. Use top and bottom rigs with real bloodworms or Fishbites, also squid or clam will do okay as well. Offshore tilefish action has been good, and the billfish bite has been on. We know the flounder action has been decent due to the Open, but that was all offshore. There are a lot of small flounder in the surf. Some pompano are still being caught in the surf.
Summer is winding down but the fishing will still be good for a couple of months and then get better when the big striped bass and bluefish make their fall run. Hope they come close to shore this year.