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JUNE IS SHARK TOURNEY MONTH IN NEW JERSEY

June is shark month at the Jersey Shore, with tournament anglers looking at a new set of rules and regulations while on the hunt for mako sharks during the 2018 season. Know before you go!
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  June 4, 2018
JUNE IS SHARK TOURNEY MONTH IN NEW JERSEY
In 2018, the minimum length for shortfin mako is 83 inches, a measure put in place at the federal level that allows Atlantic Coast shark anglers to continue harvesting a limited number of makos at legal and sustainable levels.

Animal rights activists nearly shut down the entire Atlantic Coast shark fishery; first it was at the international level through ICCAT and then federally through NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Commerce. While NOAA is still working on making their final regulations for 2018 official and permanent through bureaucratic and legal channels, certain emergency regulations are currently in place as of the start of Shark Month 2018 at the Jersey Shore.

As of January 1, all Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit holders that recreationally fish for, retain, possess, or land sharks are required to obtain a shark endorsement on the permit, which requires completing an online shark identification and fishing regulation training course and quiz. Permit holders can take the quiz at any time during the fishing year but vessels may not leave the dock on a trip that will include fishing for sharks unless a new or revised permit with a shark endorsement has been issued.

Anglers aboard federally permitted vessels fishing natural baits for sharks are also required to use non-offset, non stainless steel circle hooks whenever they are fishing south of 41° 43’ N latitude (near Chatham, MA) in 2018; that line is the northern extent of the dusky shark’s U.S. Atlantic range). Finally, a new minimum size limit of 83 inches is now in effect for shortfin mako sharks.

Sure, that may make the shark fishing more difficult, but it should add a little more drama at the scales this season!

Tournament sharking this month kicks off from June 6 to 9 with the 38th Annual South Jersey Shark Tournament. Known as “the richest shark tournament in New Jersey” with an average purse of $323,273, teams fish two of the three days, captain’s choice. Late registration is 6 p.m. on June 6 at South Jersey Marina with the captains meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. sharp. Contact South Jersey Tournaments at 609-884-0177 or www.southjerseytournaments.com.

From June 8-10, the 5th Annual Warriors for Warriors Shark Tournament will be based out of the Manasquan River, with captains meeting from 5-7 p.m. at Hoffman’s Marina West on June 8. The tournament features former US Navy SEALs, local veterans and local fishermen raising money for charities that support combat warrior veterans. Go to www.warriorstournament.com.

Call it the “gray flu” for the two weeks that follow, as tournament anglers turn their angling attention to a host of multi-day events based around inlets in Ocean and Monmouth Counties. From June 14-16, it’s the 17th Annual “BTB” Mako Rodeo presented by the Brett T. Bailey Foundation out of Hoffman’s in Brielle. New 48-hour format, with captains meeting June 14. For information go to www.btbmakorodeo.com.

The 3rd Annual Forked River Tuna Club Shark Tournament will be held June 16-17, with the captains meeting on June 15 at 7:30 p.m. at club headquarters at 18 Bay Avenue in Forked River. Weigh-ins will take place at Holiday Harbor Marina in Waretown, and a portion of the proceeds from the contest go to support the Martin Truex, Jr. Foundation. Call 609-693-5353 or visit www.forkedrivertunaclub.com.

A new format greets tournament sharkers at the 40th Annual Mako Fever which this year will run from June 16-24. Jersey Coast Shark Anglers annual shark tournament is offering this new nine-day format; fish once or every day. Captain's meeting on June 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Manasquan River Club in Brick; weigh-ins will be daily with the scales open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Crystal Point Yacht Club located on the Manasquan River. For further info contact Tournament Director John Schachel at 732-221-3570 or visit the JCSA online at www.jcsa.org.

From June 23-24, the 33rd Annual Mako Mania Tournament will run out of Manasquan Inlet, with the captains meeting on June 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Wehrlen Brothers Marina on Princeton Avenue in Brick. Tournament weigh-ins will be at Captain Bill’s Landing in Point, and in addition to the all new super calcuttas and $250,000 in cash prizes, a 2018 Chevy Silverado from Lester Glenn Auto Group is on the line to the angler who breaks the state record for shortfin mako (856 pounds). This season to account for the federal increase in shark length, if no legal mako is caught in Mako Mania then a legal thresher (66 inches) will count both in first through fourth places and all calcuttas. For details, call Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association at 732-892-3666 or visit www.makomanianj.com.

New Jersey’s tournament shark month comes to a close from June 29-30 with the second leg of this year’s Triple Challenge out of Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor. Shark Challenge 9 offers captains choice, with the captains meeting on June 28 and a NASCAR style start in order of entry (take off from Atlantic Highlands, Shark River, Manasquan, Barnegat, Breezy Point or Great Kills, weigh-in by water at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor Marina. Just a $100 deposit holds your spot in the starting line; go to www.triplechallenge.org or call 732-787-427 for details.

One final thought as you’re assembling your crews, securing permits and filing tournament registrations, it’s safe to say the animal rights activists will not be satisfied with their accomplishments thus far. You can reasonably expect that protesters will once again be on the shark tournament trail in 2018, waving banners, pushing petitions, making threatening online posts and shooting video at cleaning stations to show what happens when a legally harvested shark is butchered (though don’t expect the running commentary to be accurate!)

Keep in mind that many of these activists are simply looking to create a negative interaction and to cause a scene in an effort to embarrass saltwater anglers; so long as you’re following the rules and regulations governing highly migratory species like mako sharks, don’t get caught up in their mainstream melodrama.

Catch ‘em up and be safe – and smart - out there!

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