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Dream Boat Challenge
The 2017 Dream Boat Challenge Winner

The Fisherman Magazine’s Dream Boat Challenge has become quite the tradition for rabid fresh and saltwater anglers from Maine to Delaware each year. It draws upon a pool of the most talented and accomplished anglers on the east coast with one individual ultimately crowned the champion. And once again, the 2017 Dream Boat Challenge Grand Prize was won by an angler who put his time in, planned out his fishing trips, took advantage of every opportunity that presented itself and ultimately took home the top honor of the ultimate bragging rights for anglers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

The premise was simple: accumulate the most total points by catching the heaviest fish across a field of eight eligible species (porgy/scup, fluke, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, bluefish, black sea bass and blackfish/tautog) and win yourself a new boat. Contestants were allowed to submit as many entries in excess of the minimum weight as they wished. However, only the heaviest one (1) entry per species category would be entered and tallied for points. This meant that you could enter a heavier fish in a given species and move up the leaderboard, but you could not hold multiple spots within any single species. Points were awarded to each of the top 10 entries with the heaviest fish in each of the eight species: 10 points to the heaviest fish in each category, 9 points for second, all the way to a single point for the 10th heaviest fish in that division. The key to winning the Grand Prize in 2017 was not only to land the heaviest fish, but to do so across as many of the eligible species as possible, and this is just what played out!

After 214 days of fierce competition, many lead changes, untold gallons of fuel burned and enough casts made to stretch to the sun and back at least three times, we have a winner. But first, what was up for grabs this year? The 2017 Grand Prize is from a new Dream Boat Challenge sponsor, Steiger Craft, in the form of the Steiger Craft 21 DV Miami boat with a Yamaha 200 HP Outboard Motor; a Furuno GPS Plotter/Sounder Model GP1670F, an Engel EN80 Cooler; and a fish mount from Global Fish Mounts of one the fish entered. 

In addition to that awesome Grand Prize, we are also awarding the angler with the second-most total points a 3-night stay for the winner and one guest at the Zancudo Lodge in beautiful Costa Rica. The third prize winner will receive one Okuma M-400 Metaloid machined aluminum reel and a matching St. Croix Mojo MIC70MHF casting rod. Rounding out the top spots, the fourth prize winner will receive one pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses.

Once again we are also awarding prizes for the heaviest fish entered in each of the eight eligible species. This year’s “Largest of Species” winners will each receive an Okuma M-400 Metaloid machined aluminum reel paired up with a St. Croix Mojo MIC70MHF casting rod; a fish mount from Global Fish Mounts of the fish entered; and a 1-year membership to www.Fishtrack.com and www.Bouyweather.com. Each of the 80 finalists on the leader board at the conclusion of the challenge will also be rewarded a special prize package provided by our sponsors including Rapala, Owner, Williamson and Storm.

And last but most certainly not least, we also have the Grand Prize available again for king salmon. The subscriber who enters the heaviest king salmon will win a Sea Eagle 385fta Angler Deluxe Solo Package.

Okay, enough with the delay for dramatic effect, let’s get right down to it and officially announce the 2017 Dream Boat Challenge Grand Prize winner. After tabulating the scores, double-checking our math, submitting a polygraph test, crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s, the winner is: Long Island Fisherman Magazine subscriber Dave Wissemann of Islip Terrace, New York with a final score of 39 points. Dave just beat out New England Fisherman Magazine subscriber Chris Sottile’s 32-point, second-place finish.

Dave proved that he was both lucky and skilled this year when he pieced together his winning score. Finishing in the Top Ten for five of the eight eligible species (2nd place weakfish, 1st place scup/porgy, 4th place yellowfin tuna, 2nd place bluefish and 7th place blackfish), he did what it took to put his line in the water when and where he felt he had the best chance at landing a leaderboard fish. He even placed second in the king salmon category with a 21.95-pound fish (which does not count towards the point total for the Grand Prize), and he entered a fluke that met our minimum weight requirements but was eventually bumped out of the top 10. From early spring runs up to Peconic Bay on a friend’s boat to bag an early porgy entry (which he eventually upgraded) and the overall second-place weakfish entry, to fishing right up to the closing bell with the hope of connecting with a bruiser black sea bass aboard his own boat, Dave set his sights on the Steiger Craft 21DV Miami Boat and never looked back.

When I asked Dave for some tips or suggestions to help push next year’s eventual Challenge winner over the top, he had several words of wisdom to pass along. “First up, you must be ready, willing and able to adjust to what is going on around you and take full advantage of any opportunity that presents itself. For instance, I landed two of my leaderboard fish on trips where I was initially targeting other species. The 19.8-pound bluefish, which I caught in October was actually caught on a black sea bass trip. I was into some decent sea bass, but nothing really capable of cracking the top 10, when my fishing partner landed a large blue on a clam. We both quickly changed over to diamond jigs and started catching bluefish one after another. Eventually I pulled the huge chopper—my largest to date—out of the school and secured second place on the final leader board for bluefish.”

Dave went on to say that, “It also pays to know when the time is right to concentrate on a certain species and when to move onto another. Looking at the leaderboard and seeing that the fluke division was full of some impressive fish, I accepted that my chances of cracking the top 10 in this category were slim so I moved on to other species like black sea bass and yellowfin to round out my final score.

“I also ended up fishing on my own quite a bit this year. I made it a point to fish whenever I was free as well as whenever the conditions lined up for a chance at success. This meant that I not only spent a lot of time fishing, but it also meant that quite often my hook was the only one the fish would see that tide, thereby increasing the odds that I’d land the biggest fish on the wreck on a given day.”

Dave has only been a subscriber to The Fisherman Magazine for the past two years, signing up for a subscription at the same time that he purchased a gift subscription for one of his friends. He was familiar with the magazine and the Challenge and figured it simply made sense to subscribe. Well, I must say that it not only made sense for Dave, it also paid off in more ways than one!

TOP TEN FINAL POINT STANDINGS

  1. Dave Wissemann - 39 Points
  2. Chris Sottile - 32 Points
  3. Andreas Brundler - 24 Points
  4. Robert Deledda - 24 Points
  5. Anthony Muia - 14 Points
  6. Justin Rostron - 13 Points
  7. Chester Green - 10 Points
  8. David Strozeski - 10 Points
  9. Douglas Cohen - 10 Points
  10. Sean Mullally - 10 Points

FISH OF THE MONTH WINNERS

  • May: Porgy/Scup: Eric Kopf (3.22 pounds)
  • June: Fluke: Chester Green (14 pounds)
  • July: Yellowfin Tuna: John Ostrowski (50.4 pounds)
  • August: Mahi Mahi: Sean Mullally (19.63 pounds)
  • September: Bluefish: Thomas Leni (16.48 pounds)
  • October: Black Sea Bass: Andreas Brundler (6.2 pounds)
  • November: Blackfish/Tautog: Ben Rich IV (18.5 pounds)

Prizes for all 80 Finalists and other winners will be shipped in January 2018.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF THE FINALISTS (a complete list can be found HERE), and thank you very much to all of the 2017 Dream Boat Challenge sponsors including Steiger Craft, Yamaha, Furuno, Zancudo Lodge, Engel, Okuma, St. Croix, Global Fish Mounts, Owner Hooks, Dexter, FishTrack, Bouyweather, Rapala, Storm, Williamson and Sea Eagle.