THE BIRD IS THE WORD IN 2018!
“Some people feel that they can’t win the Dream Boat…
this year we think it’s anybody’s game”
I’ve caught them while drifting for fluke, bucktailing stripers, and even tossing plastics around the sod banks for weakfish. These winged attackers with the skin-piercing armor have been known to strike plugs and poppers, are often freshly stripped out as baits, and up until last summer when we spotlighted the cleaning and preparation of these fine tasting critters in The Fisherman, were considered nuisance trash fish.
While I’ve still yet to see any directed sea robin charters, nor have I found an exclusive sea robin rig section at my favorite tackle shop, the fact is sea robins are plentiful, provide a good little tussle on light tackle, and make for some surprisingly great table fare.
English chefs refer to them as gurnards, and after Toby Lapinski’s August, 2017 edition article called Sea Robins: Trash Fish No More, I heard from more than a few friends who turned mediocre fluke outings into near banner days by throwing a few birds into the fish box for summer dinner with the family that evening.
If you still scoff at the idea of dragging a sea robin back to your local tackle shop for weigh-in and glory shot, what if I sweetened the fish pot with the possibility of winning a tricked out new Steigercraft 23 with that big bird weigh-in?
Oh yeah, we’re doing this!
Change Is Good
No one likes change; except perhaps wet babies and new boat owners (not necessarily in that order)! And here at The Fisherman, we’re continually tweaking the rules of our Dream Boat Challenge every year to keep it fresh and improve overall contest parity. Starting with our 50th Anniversary season in 2016, we altered the rules of our subscriber only fishing contest in order to reward the very best fishermen in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. As society as a whole may have shifted towards “everyone gets a trophy,” The Fisherman instead is honoring the best of the best.
“We want to reward the one angler in the region that accomplishes the most,” is how publisher Mike Caruso put it. “But we’re also trying to create the ultimate balance.”
In 2018, that “balance” is being brought to the inshore grounds as we offer subscribers yet another way to win the 1st Place Grand Prize Dream Boat package. Adding sea robin to the eight-species line-up for winning A Steiger Craft 23 Miami boat with Evinrude E-TEC G2 250 HP Outboard Motor; Lowrance HDS Carbon 9 with StructureScan 3D Bundle; one Engel EN80 Cooler; and a fish mount from Global Fish Mounts package seemed like the best way to do that, especially considering the possibilities of scoring big in the surf where casters are likely to encounter some of the biggest of the birds while fishing the inlet jetties and rockpiles.
“One, single fish is no longer enough to win the boat,” Caruso said while finalizing the lineup and contest changes for the 2018 Dream Boat Challenge. “Some people feel that they can’t win the Dream Boat, and this year we think the playing field is extremely balanced and evened out and it’s anybody’s game”.
Entering into the Dream Boat Fishing Challenge and looking through tournaments passed, it’s easy to notice where we’ve made critical changes to the fish lineup. Winter flounder, weakfish, and striped bass have been added and deleted and added again with regard to tournament eligibility; we continually monitor gamefish stock trends to determine whether or not promoting contest harvest outweighs conservation goals. We’ve also adjusted minimum weight of eligible species to minimize the number of fish brought to the scales. A key objective of our is to conduct a fisheries friendly contest.
In addition to the health of any given species, a second reason why tournament staff adds or removes species from the eligibility requirements from time to time is to balance out the competition. So, following a rather sluggish offshore season for yellowfin in 2017, we’re tossing out tuna for 2018 and adding the up-and-coming sea robin to the fishable entries to provide opportunities for more anglers to win.
How It Works in ‘18
A points-based system, whoever accumulates the highest total weigh-in score during the 2018 season will win the incredible 23-foot Steiger, Evinrude, Lowrance, Engel, Global Fish Mount package a total retail value of nearly $86,364. Points are gathered with each single biggest fish you put on the overall leader board. Get the biggest fluke of the contest, you get 10 points; register the fifth largest sea bass and you’ll add another 6 points. Last year’s grand prize winner had 39 points, so you can see where this is going.
A 10-point, 3-plus pound sea robin may literally put you in the driver’s seat at the end of the contest, but only when coupled with points gathered in other species.
A good spring wreck season with tautog, black sea bass and porgies combined a few good bluefish and sea robin outings in the fall could really add up; throw in a doormat fluke and you’re well on your way.
You get one entry per category; if you can top that 12-pound fluke with a 15-pounder, do so and you’re pretty much assured of moving up the leaderboard with more points. Just remember that so long as you’re still on the board somewhere in the top 10 position of any of the eight categories of fish (blackfish, bluefish, fluke, mahi, porgy, black sea bass, weakfish, and now sea robin) you’ll win something at the end of the year.
After crowning a champion along with second place prize winner (vacation at the Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rica), and third place finishers (Sea Eagle FishSkiff), there’s also a fish of the month prize (Costa Sunglasses, and A Dexter fillet knife), awards for largest of species (Shimano Saragosa 6000 reel; St.Croix Mojo Inshore rod; a fish mount from Global Fish Mounts; and one 1-year membership to Fishtrack.com and Bouyweather.com, and a special king salmon prize (Costa Sunglasses) for those subscribers traveling upstate to fish during 2018. At the conclusion all 80 Finalist will receive a package of Owner Hooks, and a Lure from Tsunami. See our Official Rules and Dream Boat Advertisement for more details.