11-pound ‘doormat’ wins Flounder Pounder

Over the weekend, the largest flounder tournament in the world — the Flounder Pounder Open — was held at Paradise Marina in Long Neck Delaware.

Anglers were fishing for two out of three days for the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers were competing for $175,000 in prize money 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 40 boats tried for a fish. The few that made it to the scales were under five pounds, but for one 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 pounds, six ounces.

Captain Brent Wiest with the winning flounder caught on the second day by team Makers Mark. (Submitted photos)

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 three hundred and fifteen 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 in Delaware and Delmarva were fishing Saturday. I expected to see some very big fish.

Everyday the scales opened at four in the afternoon, anglers had to have lines in by five and then had to be in 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 20 fish to the scales. Saturday on the other hand 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 so that the combined weight of your heaviest fish each day would determine the winner. So the combination of a 10 pound and a five pound flounder made for a 15 pound Calcutta.

The Flounder Pounder Open 2017 final Leader Board.

On Saturday just about every boat weighed a fish. I know we weighed in more than 250 fish, and were there until 7:45. I was on stage broadcasting 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 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 26 inches. Almost double the weight of the previous first place fish.

Tina McIntosh with her first fish ever caught, two little snapper blues.

Halfway through the weigh ins I got a text: “There is a 30-plus inch fish back here.”

I knew we would be seeing a new leader very soon, that fish would easily top out at 10-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 30 inches and we all knew this fish could hit 11 pounds, she was thick.

The scales tipped out at 11 pounds, 4 ounces! Boom!

Finn Coulbourne fished the canal in Lewes.

Dillon Walker with a double header from the Lewes canal.

Team Makers Mark was the new leaders 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 Saturday 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 three hundred boats 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 a great day and Paradise Marina did an exceptional job holding the world’s largest flounder tournament. The flounder Pounder Open. See you at the scales next year.

Other action

Aside from the flounder fishing being off the hook offshore, inshore it is not that great but people are catching some keepers. You just have to catch a lot of smaller fish as well. Croaker and spot are the most frequent catches around the inland bays, the Cape Henlopen fishing pier, and the Lewes canal. Northern puffers are still around, chicken of the sea is always a good meal.

Offshore anglers are doing well on tilefish, billfish and the tuna action is good. King mackerel are a fun catch on your way to or back form the canyons.

Rich King’s outdoors column appears Thursdays in the Delaware State News.

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