Eian Donati is 16 years old and is a deck hand on the High Roller pontoon partyboat docked at Historic Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City.
When he is done his day on the boat helping out Capt.Mike Tabasso, the Egg Harbor Township resident often hooks up with a friend or two and goes fishing at night.
He was fishing with Doug Keeping of Galloway Township on July 28 inside Absecon Inlet when he tied into a sheepshead that weighed 14.8 pounds at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon. It was 27 inches in length.
Dave Showell at Absecon Bay S.C. entered it in The Press Fishing Contest online with a photo. It set a Press Fishing Contest record, beating the old mark of 14.06 pounds from 1995. The state record is 17 pounds, 3 ounces - a fish that was caught in 2003 at Manahawkin Bay.
It was the second big sheepshead that Donati caught recently. A couple of weeks back, he got one that weighed 12.8 pounds.
Donati said he regularly fishes along the sod bank at Mankiller Island at the back of Absecon Inlet. He likes to use half a green crab for bait with a 1/0 hook and an 8-ounce weight to keep the rig tight to the bank.
He has had his own boat since he was 10, he said Monday. His current craft is a 20-foot aluminum job. That's the same boat he and three cousins - Chris Sicurella, Mike Sicurella and Gary Haes - were in when they hauled in an estimated 180-pound, 8- to 9-foot brown (aka sand bar) shark on Aug. 1.
The young crew had to beach the boat in Absecon Inlet to release the shark. Howard Sefton at Capt. Howard's Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City entered it into The Press Fishing Contest knowing it was not eligible, so that anyone interested in seeing a photo of the anglers setting the shark loose can look it up at PressContests.com.
The remarkable number of white marlin caught in last week's 35th Overnight Billfish tournament was confirmed by the final results.
Rob McMurray, an official of the sponsoring Ocean City Marlin & Tuna Club, reported that Capt. Ryan Higgons, owner Pat Healey and the crew of Viking 70 based in New Gretna won the white marlin-release in a walk with a tournament-record 26.
How would you like to catch 19 white marlin and be well back in second? That's what happened to Jim Foulkeand the crew of Trust Me Too out of Cape May. They could console themselves with a 57.5-pound yellowfin tuna.
Another veteran of local offshore tournaments is Richard Ryon on the well-known Anthracite out of Beach Haven. He was third with 17 white marlin and had two yellowfin, including an 89-pounder.
McMurray reported 36 boats racked up an Overnight-record 114 white marlin releases. The tournament handed out $60,000 in prize money.
Tim McBride on Royal Flush out of Somers Point won tuna with a 173-pound bigeye. Angler of record Trevor Bogart on Dan Embon's Paycheck out of Manasquan had the heaviest mako shark at 174.5 pounds. Len Warrenon Endure Fin was wahoo champ at 45 pounds.
The skinny is that many of these fish were caught at Poorman's Canyon, and then shifting to Washington Canyon as the warm water drifted farther south.
Matt Slobodjian at Jim's Bait and Tackle in Cape May reported that boats trolling Poorman's were getting shots at 40 white marlin. When the bite moved to Washington Canyon, blue marlin and sailfish joined the fun.
Here's another sign that the fall fishing season is not that far off.
Tournament director Don Brown announced the dates for the Atlantic County/Atlantic City Surf Fishing Derby. The anticipated surf event is Sept. 24 to Nov. 4 in Brigantine, Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate and Longport.
Badges cost $25 and will be available beginning Sept. 5 at Captain Andy's Marina and Ray Scott's Dock, Margate; Brennan Marine and Dolfin Dock, Somers Point; Ship Shop, Ventnor; One-Stop Bait and Tackle, Atlantic City; Bayside Bait and Tackle, Fish Finder Marina and Riptide Bait and Tackle, Brigantine; Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, Absecon.
The heaviest striped bass will take $500, while heaviest bluefish, weakfish, tautog and kingfish are $300 each, in addition to $50 weekly prizes in all categories. The Mabel "Doc" Johnston award for the woman entering the heaviest fish and the youth 14-and-under heaviest fish will each pick up $300.
Contestants with four-wheel drives can start to register their vehicles Sept. 18 at beachside municipalities.