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DREAM BOAT FISHING CHALLENGE: 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.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
DREAM BOAT FISHING CHALLENGE: THE BIRD IS THE WORD IN 2018!
The 2018 Dream Boat Fishing Challenge Grand Prize, a 23-foot Steiger Craft 23 Miami boat.

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 Steiger Craft 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.”


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