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After a two-year hiatus, the Manhattan Cup Charity Striped Bass Tournament returns for an 18th season on Friday, June 8 in support of fisheries conservation and honoring our wounded veterans.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
Capt. Frank Crescitelli recently guided Raymarine's Sean Gros to good striper action off the North Jersey Coast, though on Friday, June 8 the Fin Chaser himself will be back at the helm of the 18th Manhattan Cup Charity Striped Bass Tournament.

On June 8, approximately 50 professional fishing guides will provide their boats and expertise to individual teams competing in the Manhattan Cup, one of the largest, one-day inshore tournaments in the Northeast with a strictly catch and release format.

After a two-year hiatus, the tournament returns to the Hudson River again, this year running out of Liberty Landing Marina. The contest will include live-release, fly fishing, wounded veterans and celebrity categories once again, but a new wrinkle will provide a new tagging incentive through Gray FishTag Research.

The Manhattan Cup is a catch & release tournament – no fish are to be kept, except those retained for the live weigh-in. Live weigh-in fish must be kept in an approved “Striper Tube" or FLW “Keep Alive Box.” They will be released immediately after weighing, and any team killing and keeping fish will be disqualified.

The return of the Manhattan Cup Charity Striped Bass Tournament will be the 18th edition of this classic metropolitan event, and is being underwritten by the RFA Fisheries Conservation Trust. Once again, the tournament will benefit fisheries conservation as well as a group of at-risk, recently returned veterans. Robert Gill, past winner of the Manhattan Cup in 2012 is back as the official Veteran Liaison, while longtime tournament director Capt. Frank Crescitelli is back at the contest hem with help from co-director Gary Caputi of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and presenting sponsor, Yamaha Outboards.

As highlighted in the May edition of The Fisherman, Gray FishTag Research will be kicking off efforts throughout the Northeast to target striped bass and other regional species for catch and release tagging efforts by offering a special winning wrinkle to this year’s Manhattan Cup. Bill Dobbelaer, General Manager of Gray FishTag Research plans to bring a trophy sized Gray Fishmounts striper mount, a 50-incher, to be awarded to the team who tags the most striped bass in the shortest period of time during the June 8 Manhattan Cup.

By providing enough tags and tagging kits for all the participating teams to incorporate into their daily tournament efforts, the hope is to kick of a wide scale tagging effort for striped bass this spring. Ultimately, Dobbelaer and his team believe that more tournament organizers – whether for striped bass, mako shark or even summer flounder (fluke) – will want to adopt similar contest parameters in the future by which released fish can also add up towards tournament prizes. “If we can get guys to tag one or two fish on each boat in future tournaments, think about the data we’ll be getting down the road,” said Dobbelaer.

For the Manhattan Cup, which had been one of the premier catch and release striper tournaments when it first kicked off in 1999, incorporating a prize component for tagging is only natural as the event is reborn in 2018. “The timing is so key right now,” said Mike Caruso, Publisher of The Fisherman. To coincide with the Manhattan Cup on June 8, Gray FishTag Research has named The Fisherman and its headquarters as an Official Research Center for the program.

As longtime conservationist, charter captain, tackle manufacturer and television personality, Crescitelli said his goal with the Manhattan Cup was always to lead by example in an effort to release as many of the genetically superior, breeding class stripers as possible. “Add in tagging and now you can track the patterns of these very important fish and engage people in the process, to me it seems like a no brainer,” Crescitelli said.

The Manhattan Cup will run out of Liberty Landing Marina and Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City, NJ across from the NYC Financial District on June 8 with check-in starting at 7 a.m. The largest overall fish will be the Manhattan Cup winner. Trophies will also be awarded to in categories for largest fish (striped bass and bluefish) caught and released on bait, lure and fly, as well as high hook for the most stripers release. Of course, for the crew who uses up all of their Gray FishTags on striped bass in the shortest amount of time should figure out a way of taking home their 50-inch striped bass mount at the conclusion of Friday night’s award ceremony at Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City on the Hudson.

For charter boat captains and tournament organizers interested in incorporating Gray FishTag concepts into their upcoming trips and events, email info@thefisherman.com. Learn more about Gray FishTag Research online at www.grayfishtagresearch.org. Visit the tournament website at www.manhattancup.com.