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Out of nine ports and hundreds of registered boats with the region's most seasoned fluke anglers, a 10-year bucktailer scores the biggest fluke of the year in the 23rd Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament for 2017.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  August 6, 2017
Ten-year-old Dylan Cole takes bragging rights in the 23rd Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament on August 5, 2017 with a 9.69-pound fluke weighed in for first place in the port of Jersey City. It was also the biggest of all fluke weighed in out of nine ports statewide.

As spotlighted in The Fisherman’s weekly video forecast on Thursday, August 3, a run of giant fluke along the North Jersey coast put Shark River Inlet at ground zero for doormat fluke action leading up to Saturday’s 23rd annual JCAA Fluke Tournament.

For Brooklyn, NY’s Anthony Pansini, that run to Belmar paid big dividends with a 26-1/2-inch, 9.2-pound fluke weighed at Fisherman’s Den for top port prize at Shark River.

However, for the second year in a row the top fish across the board in the statewide tournament was weighed in at Liberty Landing in Jersey City, with one of the very youngest competitors in JCAA history nabbing top honors in 2017 as 10-year old Dylan Cole of Andover, NJ brought a monster 9.69-pound fluke to the scales.

“It’s his biggest fluke to date, so he’s pretty stoked about it,” said a proud dad Kevin Cole on Sunday. The father-son team was fishing Sandy Hook Reef with bucktails and Gulp on Saturday, but the snotty morning weather forced the crew to stay inside a little longer than they would’ve hoped. Once conditions were good enough to press outside, they still had to contend with some bit of a heave at the reef.

“Every trip he gets better, and now he ties off his own rigs when he breaks off,” Kevin said of his 10-year-old bucktailing buddy who now does most everything himself, which is especially important in tournament situations when one angler down shouldn’t result in multiple anglers not fishing. “You break a lot of stuff out there, especially in that wind and current, but he’s learned to handle himself out there.”

Kevin said it’s Dylan’s third JCAA tournament, noting that third time perhaps really is the charm. “He’s still grinning from ear to ear,” Kevin said on Sunday following the posted results. “He makes me proud.”

August is typically doormat month for those sailing out of Sandy Hook area ports of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands, yet for the second year in a row the top fish brought into Gateway Marina didn’t hit the coveted “10-pound" doormat mark. Then again, for Justin Immordino of Team Rodworx, 6.92 pounds was more than enough to hit the $1,200 port prize awarded to top fish in each of the nine New Jersey ports. With side Calcutta prizes offered in the $50 and $100 categories, noted doormat hunter Dave Lilly found an equally impressive pot of gold for his 6.4-pound second place finish in Sandy Hook sweeping the Calcutta cash there.

The S&S Bucktails team scored yet another 2017 win with an 8.87-pound fluke at Hoffman’s Marina in Manasquan while sweeping the Calcutta cash, with Mike Torelli of Newtown Square, PA nailing the fifth largest fish overall in the contest with a 8.1-pound port winner at South Harbor Marina in Barnegat Bay. Over on Long Beach Island, David Werner of Manahawkin had a 6.72-pound brought in to Fisherman’s Headquarters for the win that he caught in Barnegat Inlet on live bait, while Rick Sullivan of Browns Mills nabbed the Great Bay prize for a 6.57-pounder brought in to Great Bay Marina.

As usual, the port winning weights in South Jersey stayed mostly below the North Jersey weigh-ins, though Tim Fitzick’s 6.45-pound fish registered at Fin-Atics Marine Supply in Ocean City was an impressive fish worth $1,200 for the Somers Point resident. Gibbstown’s Roy Trainer nailed down the port prize in Cape May with a fat, 25-1/2-inch, 6.99-pound fluke checked in at Jim's Bait and Tackle.

For second through tenth places finishes in the JCAA Fluke Tournament, valuable merchandise prizes will be awarded from Canyon Reels, Costa, The Fisherman Magazine, Fuel Ox, Tica, Tony Maja and others. Only eight of ten top prizes were registered at Ocean City, while Cape May only at four of ten possible positions filled this year.

All awards will be presented on Thursday, August 10 at the Clarion Hotel on Route 37 East in Toms River. Even if your crew didn’t finish in money or prize contention, there’s still a slew of door prizes, as well as that grand prize drawing for the 14-foot Starcraft Boat and Yamaha motor; the Grand Prize and all door prizes will be drawn at the Awards Presentation and Celebration at the Clarion Hotel.

Remember, you do not have to catch a fish to be eligible for the Grand Prize or any door prizes. You only have to be registered and present at the awards ceremony (registration from 3 to 7 p.m.)

The separate $50,000 cash prize for largest doormat fluke over 12 pounds – a separate $25 calcutta – will no doubt be rolled over to 2018 since no angler reached that magic mark in 2017.

See the full rundown of port-by-port winners in the 2017 JCAA Fluke Tournament.

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