Contender buddy boat
Last week, I invited you to digitally join me in an adventure to fish the 40th Annual White Marlin Open, Aug. 5-9, with Team Contender. The captains’ meeting in Ocean City, Maryland, is just five days away, and several million dollars in prize money is on the table.
I talked to teammates Les Stewart Jr. and Tony Novelli this week to firm up plans and share fishing reports. Tony says the white marlin have started showing in Washington Canyon and a few other places! Bluefin tuna fishing has fired up, but the fish are small. The bigeye tuna bite is slim.
As we all know, fishing reports can be, ahem, exaggerated, so Tony tells me he’s relying on personal connections, including Contender’s dealership in Selbyville, Delaware — North Bay Marina — and online sources (websites and Facebook pages) that have proven reliability.
Tony also confirmed our final team roster:
Les Stewart Jr., Contender’s marketing director
Les Stewart Sr., Contender partner
Tony Novelli, Contender’s Northeast sales manager
Capt. Mike Sisto, charter captain from New Jersey
Capt. James Chappell, runs an Islamorada, Florida, charter boat and is a friend of Sisto’s.
Les told me we’d also have a buddy boat, another Contender 39 ST, captained by Bob Wiggins, an SKA Contender pro staffer out of Charleston, South Carolina. Having a partner truly helps cover more potentially productive ground. We’ll communicate on fishing days, using as secret a VHF protocol as we can.
Fishing starts Monday and runs through Friday next week, and we can choose to fish three of those five days. Weather, of course, often determines when we fish, but ideally, we’d make the runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday to give us breathers between long days on the water.
We also went over our detail checklists, including an HMS permit for the boat (CHECK!) and a Maryland fishing license for me (CHECK!). Mike and Tony will be supplying tackle. Mike is sponsored by Avet reels. Bait has been ordered.
Les and Tony will run the boat on its own bottom from New Jersey, arriving Saturday or Sunday (Aug. 3 or 4) and berthing at the Reel Inn Restaurant & Dock Bar inside the tournament site at Harbour Island Marina. They’ll stay in a condo near the marina.
I will stay at the Francis Scott Key Family Resort about two miles away. My flight arrives in Philadelphia midday Sunday, and I’ll drive to Ocean City. I’m really looking forward to seeing the area and experiencing the Chesapeake Bay region.