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Captain Dave Wittenborn
302 West Ave
Beach Haven, NJ 08008

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Fantastic Fishing!!!

This weekend will go down as one of my all time favorites.  All of the stars lined up to make what was a near perfect block of days.  On Friday, I had Nicole Fox and family out for a fishing adventure.  We left the dock at 7:30 and found the ocean like a beautiful sheet of glass with a light swell.  A light east breeze was blowing and the water was a clear blue in the mid seventies.  We headed for the grounds and got set up around 8:15 and had nearly non-stop action of fluke and sea bass.  Dinner was secured in the first ten minutes of the trip and the action continued until we picked up the lines at 11:15.  It is fun to watch as everyone becomes an expert of guessing what type of fish is on the line as they are reeling the fish up from the bottom.  After 3 hours of non-stop action, you can get pretty good at telling the difference between a sea bass, fluke or Sea Robin when you have them on the line.  Below is a picture of Nicole and her 4 lb giant sea bass.


On Saturday, I took the day off from charter fishing and went offshore fishing with my cousin Mark and friend John.  The forecast had been calling for calm seas all week so I took advantage of the weather window and set the trip up.  We left the dock at 3:30 AM because we wanted to be on the offshore grounds for the morning bite.  We found an amazing piece of water which consisted of a 2 degree temperature break and had planks and other debris floating around about 10 miles from the Carteret Canyon and decided to set out the gear.  This was at 6:15 AM.  We had out first Mahi-Mahi in the boat about 7 minutes later and steady action throughout the day.  Offshore fishing usually consist of long hours of no action followed by short burst of craziness when you get a fish hooked.  This was not the case this day.  We ended the day with 7 Mahi-Mahi, 2 skip jack, 1 yellow-fin tuna, 1 Blue Marlin, and 1 White Marlin.  It was an awesome day and the sea conditions were perfect which made for an amazing ride home at the end of the day.  The Compass Rose is such a versatile fishing machine.  Below are some pics from the trip.




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Sunday's trip was another great trip to the reef with Peter Ruel and crew.  Once again we were greeted with near perfect conditions and the fish were there to cooperate.  We ended the day with 13 keeper fluke up to 4.5 lbs and countless releases of fluke and sea bass.  Below is a picture of Sam Ruel and his 4.5lb 23.5" fluke.


8:15 pm edt 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Non-Stop Action

This fishing the last few days has been fantastic.  The conditions on Friday and Saturday were near perfect with a light breeze out of the north and water temperatures up near 73 degrees.  The clarity of the water is about 30 feet with a nice blueish hue.

On Friday, I had Sarah Brown and family out for Dad's 60th.  We got a late start around 9AM and headed for the grounds.  The action was almost immediate as we put the lines in the water and within minutes we had our first keeper in the box.  The action was pretty much non-stop for the next five hours and I was afraid we were going to run out of bait.  Besides Sarah's father, the rest of the crew were novices and I think may have fished once or twice in their lives (in the ocean).  They turned out to be pros by the end of the trip.  We brought home six nice keeper fluke and several sea bass and had about 20 shorts.

After Friday's trip, I was looking forward to taking out Dave Nyre and crew on Saturday, who are expert fishermen.  These guys know how to work the lines and I knew that if I put them on the fish, it would be like catching fish in a barrel.  We headed for the grounds at 7AM and got set up about 7:40.  For the next six hours I did not have time to eat my sandwich.  I do not think that more than 30 seconds went by where we did not have a fish on the line.  I have not seen action like this in years and the guys were like machines reeling up the fish and getting the lines back down.  I lost count after 50 fluke but we took 16 keepers home and several nice sea bass.  I bought extra bait for these guys, knowing that they were going to be going through it fast, and I was still cutting up sea robbins and fluke bellies after about 3.5 hrs for more bait.  It was a blast and I am glad I was able to show these guys a good time.

Below is a photo of a pile of the 16 keepers

Sunday's open boat was cancelled due to poor weather and thunderstorms which hung around all day.  It was a good time to do some regular maintenance, tie some rigs, and relax.

1:34 pm edt 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I will be running an open boat out to the reefs this Sunday, Aug 9th.  We will be mainly fishing for fluke and sea bass.  The reefs have been producing very nicely this season.  I provide all of the fishing gear and bait as well as a cooler for drinks and food.  The boat is beautiful and has plenty of seating as well as Sirius satellite radio.  It is a great experience if you have not had the chance to fish on a Regulator.  We will leave the dock at 7 AM and return at 1 PM.  The price is $125/person.  Call me at 609 577 2797 to reserve your spot.



7:45 am edt 

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational

This years Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational was quite an experience for me and my crew aboard the 32' Blackfin, Reel Style, and the fishing was the most uneventful part of the tournament.  The forecast had been very poor since NOAA posted the forecast about a week or so before the first day of the tournament which was Thursday the 30th.  For some reason, this tournament always seems to have foul weather and I was thinking, "here we go again". The tournament director wisely added a fourth day to the tournament which was Sunday, August 2nd so everyone could choose to fish towards the end of the weekend which had the better forecast.

We wisely decided to sit out Thursday and watched from the weigh station as the boats came back with their catch bruised and battered from the 6 foot seas that they had taken on throughout the day.  A large big-eye tuna of 159lbs was weighed in which had been taken from the Hudson Canyon, about 85 nautical miles to the north east from Beach Haven.  The NOAA forecast had changed several times throughout the day and the word going around was that the seas were going to possibly lay down on Friday and possibly pick up again on Saturday and Sunday.  This was just the rumor we were looking for and after seeing that large big-eye, my crew and I got excited so we decided to go out Friday and give it a shot.  We often joke about how wrong the NOAA forecast always are and how bad could it really be anyway.  Big Mistake!!

Friday morning's ride out through Little Egg Inlet at 4:15 AM went smoothly and about 20 miles offshore, we were feeling like we stole something because the seas were a pleasant 2-4 ft with a nice breeze of about 15 knots out of the SW.  We were riding in the trough of the waves and on our north east course and we were actually enjoying the ride.  I have seen much worse conditions so we ventured on.  Things didn't really start to deteriorate until we were about 20 miles from the Tom's Canyon, a smaller canyon to the SW of the Hudson.  The winds steadily increased throughout the morning and into the early afternoon until they were a steady 25 knots.  The seas went from an uncomfortable rolling 4-6 ft to 6-9 ft in about an hour and I know there were a few larger ones in there.  Somehow, we did manage to put a nice 15lb dolphin in the boat and released a small tuna.  We even had a white marlin hooked for a while but the circle hook pulled out.

By 1:30, we were losing site of the horizon in the trough of the snowy capped swells which looked like they would be great to surf so I made the call and told everyone we were packing it up for the day and heading for the barn, and no-one argued with me.  We tried to head back to Little Egg Inlet but our 32 Blackfin could only turn about 12 knots in the head sea which was putting our arrival time back at the inlet in the after dark.  I was not about to run LEI in those hazardous conditions in the dark so we changed course about 15 degrees north and headed for Barnegat Inlet.  Could you believe I would rather run Barnegat, the graveyard of the Atlantic, instead of LEI in foul weather? 

After battling back through heavy seas and losing our radar due to the pounding we were taking, we were following a line of storms freight training across the mainland on our satellite weather machine we recently had installed.  We tried speeding up to make it through Barnegat before the storms caught up to us but it was to no avail.  About 4 miles off Barnegat, we were hit with the most severe squall I have ever seen on land or on a boat.  The initial wind gust that hit us spun our boat and the rain came down so hard I could not see the front of the boat.  The rain was pouring in every possible opening and screw-hole in the boat I was afraid the pumps were not going to keep up.  This went on for about 20 minutes which seemed like hours as we just sat there, dead in the water, waiting for a bolt of lightning to finish us off.  

Somehow we survived the storm and made our way towards Barnegat Inlet with our life jackets close by our sides and the EPIRB clinched in my hand as the cold winds were now increasing from the north..  We continued on through the unfamiliar inlet and into Double Creek Channel which is stressful enough by itself on a nice sunny day because there are many shallow areas on your way to the ICW.  We slowly navigated our way out of Double Creek and into the ICW and headed south.  Finally almost home after a grueling 5.5 hr ride from the canyon.  What else could go wrong.

Apparently, in all of the confusion, word somehow got out to all of our families that we were bringing home some type a large catch that needed to be weighed in at the club before the eight O'Clock deadline.  The tournament rule is very strict about this as well it should be for various reasons.  Unknowingly to us on the boat, friends and family were at the weigh station, pressed up against the ropes, cheering us on as we made our way down the bay towards the club, and finally within sight of the weigh-master.  We had made it and it was 7:59, one minute to the deadline.  As we approached the club, which is just off the ICW and on our way home, we saw everyone at the dock celebrating and having a good time.  We had no idea they were cheering for us and weighing in our dolphin, which I new was under the 20lb qualifying minimum for the tournament, was the last thing on my mind.  I wanted to get home and into some dry clothes so we just trucked on by the party goers and continued to home to Mordecai Cove.  Well believe me, when I got home I got an earful of why I didn't radio ahead and tell everyone not to go to the club for the weigh-in and had to calm my kids down after the big anti-climatic let down at the club.  The club was even calling to tell me that I had made it under the deadline and to bring my catch back to the dock by boat for an official weigh-in.  I had to explain to everyone that our fish was too small and not worth weighing in.  I never had any intention of weighing in at the club.  It was the second perfect storm in one day.  

We decided to sit Saturday out and fished again on Sunday only to find ourselves in a similar situation of getting hit by a squall about 30 miles offshore on our way home after getting bruised and battered again by 4-6 ft seas all day with only one marlin to show any interest in trolling spread for a brief moment.  This second squall was nothing compared to the one on Friday.  I love fishing the Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational and will for as long as I am able.  They are professional and I am honored to be a member of the club but I am glad the tournament only comes once per year.

9:49 pm edt 

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