Saturday July 10th at 5am from Cape May to Keyport, New Jersey boaters will be on the prowl for the biggest summer flounder in our local waters. “The right fish could net the captain and crew north of $50,000”, says club president and founder Matt Sorrentino! The NJ Fishing Club’s inaugural Beat the Fleet Fluke Tournament is kicking off this year and the club is holding nothing back! With the cancelation of the Rhode Island and Delaware tournaments this will effectively be the largest Summer Flounder Tournament ANYWHERE!
Fluke Tournaments along the Jersey Shore are not uncommon. In fact most weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day anglers have a multitude to choose from. There are a few things however, that make the NJ Fishing Club tournament stand out. For starters, the prize pool is guaranteed! Oftentimes you’ll see an advertised prize for first, second and third but when it comes time to collect, those numbers magically shrink. That’s because most tournaments advertise their prize structure based on the number of boats they think will enter… more often than not these numbers are simply a fabrication fo the tournament committee.
This time, the prizes will be paid out as advertised. $16,000 total across three regions to the anglers with the largest Fluke in each North, Central and South Jersey. With the largest fish in the state taking home the lions share of $4,500. There are prizes from 1-4th in each region and 1-3rd overall for the largest summer flounder. With a $1,000 bonus to the boat with the biggest fish who registers prior to June 28th!
Thats without even getting into the Calcutta’s (where the real money is made in any fishing tournament). These winner take all categories bring in big bucks and stiff completion. They also offer a multitude of ways to win. For this tournament, we’re looking at single fish, 3-fish bag, and a bycatch category. Entry into each Calcutta puts you in for the chance to win both regionally and overall. We mentioned earlier about a $50,000 fish. Let us explain how we came to that number, assuredly it’s not a fabrication like previously discussed.
Since this is the first year the tournament is running we can’t go off of last years statistics. However, we can look at other tournaments to gain some perspective. In the last 5 years similar state run tournaments have seen participation in around the 200 boat range, for a much smaller pay day. We also looked at regional tournaments like the Duke of Fluke, Flukeamania and the Bass River Classic which all see paticpation from 40-80 boats.
Based on this information, we’re shooting for what we believe to be a conservative goal of 180 boats. If we break these entries down based on the data we have available into our Calcutta options (40% going all in, 30% selecting option 2, 10% selection option 1 and 20% fishing no Calcutta’s and just attempting to win the advertised prizes and youth prizes) we arrive with a Calcutta prize pool of around $90,000. If a team is able to sweep both the single largest and 3 fish Calcutta categories, they’re payout could potentially be anywhere from $30-50,000 depending on the breakdown of signups. This thing could break down countless ways. Actually this thing could breakdown with potentially 36 different teams cashing in.
In addition to our prizes… each weigh station is offering a $100 gift card to the largest fish weighed at their location!!!
Let’s get into some questions we’ve had so far.
Is there a youth division?
There is not a separate entry for youth participants. Thanks to our sponsor Tsunami, there is a youth prize package in each region. This is awarded to the angler 16 and under in each region who catches the largest summer flounder. You will certify this on your weigh slips and include the anglers name and age. If weighing in for a youth, they must be present at the weigh in.
Is there a women’s division?
No! Women can do anything men can do. Stop asking this question.
How do the Calcutta’s work?
For those of you who don’t know, the Calcutta is basically a winner take all tournament within a tournament. Only those who signup for this optional class are eligible to win. In our tournament there are several, but we have them broken down into options.
Option 1 includes a $50 buy-in for both a 1 fish and 3 fish Calcutta. This is the cheapest Calcutta option*
Option 2 includes the $50 and also $100 Calcutta’s in each 1 and 3 fish.
Option 3 includes the aforementioned choices as well as a $250 entry into the 1 and 3 fish categories.
All options include a bycatch category we’ll discuss later.
Let’s say you enter Option 1 and you catch the largest single fish in the tournament, and in this example you also have the heaviest 3 fish bag. You will win the money from everyone who entered the $50 Calcutta, however, you will not be eligible for the $100 or $250 entry money. On the other hand, if you enter Option 3 and have the same results, you will effectively win all 6 Calcutta options and take all the winnings.
Not all the money however. Your entry money into the Calcutta’s covers you in both regional and overall contests. 65 cents for every Calcutta dollar entered will be paid out regionally. While 25 cents will go to the overall winner. The other 10 cents goes to the Fishing Club (We’re not doing this for free, sorry if that’s surprising news but hey it’s a lot of work!)
It is possible for there to be 22 different Calcutta winners!
Again, looking to level the playing field and increase your chances to win. Here’s something unique we are trying in this tournament:
Bycatch Bag Calcutta!
We’re often greeted with bycatch when looking for summer flounder. These fish are often met with disgruntled anglers then discarded. Well this is your chance to cash in on that “trash”. Our bycatch bag Calcutta is the combined weight of 1 Sea Robin and 1 Sea Bass OR the total weight of 1 Skate. The payout split is identical. You do not need to catch all 3 species, you can weigh in 1 sea robin, 1 sea bass or 1 skate and still be eligible for prize money. Entrants can also weigh in 1 sea bass and 1 sea robin together to increase your odds.
*If you choose to weigh in the skate, you may not weigh in the other species.
Why do a 1 fish contest instead of a bag limit?
We chose a 1-fish tournament as opposed to a 3-fish bag limit to level the playing the field. The thing is, the anglers with more experience and more time on the water are definitely more likely to come through with overall better quality than your weekend warriors or family fishing teams. Nonetheless, there is always some aspect of luck when it comes to fishing and it’s a lot easier to get lucky once then it is 3 times. Some words of wisdom… “Anything can happen at any time.” Position yourself with the right bait in the right spot and with a little luck the right fish is in your box and you’ll be on your way to cash a pretty hefty paycheck for your efforts. There is still a 3 fish Calcutta option which will more than likely carry a much higher payout than the tournament itself.
Where do you think the biggest fish will be caught?
If you haven’t caught on by now, we’re all about an even playing field. That’s why we chose an early season date for this tournament. The big fish can literally come from anywhere. The bay, the ocean, north or south. If we we’re gamblers (and we totally are) we would guess in an inlet, in about 20-30’ of water drifting live bait near structure, but only time will tell.
Here are some hot spots we give the nod; Raritan Bay, Navesink, Shrewsbury, Manasquan Rivers, Sandy Hook Reef, Shrewsbury Rocks, Sea Girt Reef, BB and BI buoys Barnegat Bay, Barnegat Inlet, Axle Carlson Reef, Barnegat Light Reef, Garden State North and South Reefs, Main Marsh Thoroughfare, Broad Creek at Intracoastal, Brigantine Bridge,, Absecon Inlet, Rainbow Channel, Corson’s Inlet, Townsends Inlet, Atlantic City Reef, Ocean Drive Bridge, Old Grounds, Reef Site 11
1. Fish as long as you are physically able to. Spend the entire day on the water if your body and time allows it. Anything can happen at any time. (Where have I heard that before?)
2. Talk to your local tackle shop. Stop into our weigh stations BEFORE the tournament! Tell them you’re fishing the tournament and ask for their advice. They’re business thrives on repeat customers. It is not beneficial to them if you go out and don’t catch fish. They’ll point you in the right direction and make sure you’ve got the proper gear!
3. Don’t forget about the calcutta’s. You have to be in it to win it.
The JCAA tournament lesson. The long running JCAA tournament offers a $50,000 prize if someone is able to catch a fish over 12 pounds. It’s unlikely but again… anything can happen at anytime. In order to win the prize, you need to put in something like $25 to cover the entry. It won’t take too much digging to look around and find the story of the guy who caught it and didn’t enter, and let $50,000 slip away.
4. Register now! Get your money in before June 28th and you’re eligible to win an extra $1,000. You know you’re fishing. There is no reason to wait!