There are two Atlantic Oceans along the Jersey Shore: One snakes along the coast from Atlantic City to Cape May Point.  It's where surfers carve through waves, beach bums frolic, and kids build sandcastles.

The other is about 100 miles out to sea, where all the canyons are grand, the water is a deep blue and billfish such as blue and white marlin, tuna and wahoo reside.

That's where some of the country's top anglers have been fishing during this week's 32nd edition of the MidAtlantic billfish tournament.

The event, created in 1991 by South Jersey Marina owner Dick Weber as a way to promote offshore fishing, features 181 boats fishing out of Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland this week.  Various side bets, called calcuttas, have driven the purse to nearly $5.8 million.  That means big fish can net some big bucks.  Two years ago, for example, three boats won over $1 million apiece for catching the heaviest white marlin, blue marlin, and tuna, respectively.

Although the money is certainly impressive, just experiencing a day at sea during the tournament is magical.  I had the good fortune of doing so in 2017, when owner Dave Anderson invited me aboard his 90-foot Viking "Krazy Salt's" for a 12-hour adventure that was so amazing that the solar eclipse that occurred later that day paled in comparison.

It was a far cry from my previous experiences with fishing, which consisted of one-hour cruises for flounder in the backwaters of Cape May and Lower Township with my late father-in-law Charles Newton and his buddy, the late John Bell, aboard the "Shirley E"

Krazy Salts left the dock at Canyon Club Resort and Marina in Lower Township at 3:30 am; The last time I had been up that early/late was in the early 1970s, and I was on my way home from a night on the town in Wildwood - probably the Stardust, Playpen or Moore's Inlet.  One Dramamine-induce nap later, I awoke to the breathtaking sight of a sunrise 100 miles away.  That was when I discovered the other Atlantic Ocean.

It is where living the salt life means more than a window sticker.

During the trip, I was promoted from a worthless bystander to an unofficial teammate.  After each marlin was hooked, plastic shot glasses were filled with Jagermeister or Fireball to celebrate.  By 9:30 am, I had downed four shots and began remembering those wild, wild, Wildwood Days.

But the trip was still unforgettable.


Ready for some football?

The local high school football season kicks off Friday with the Battle at the Beach Event at Ocean City High School with multiple teams in action all weekend.

One of the highlights of the Battle figures to take place Friday, when Millville High School faces Toms River North in a matchup of defending state champions.  Powerful IMG Academy from Florida will also be playing, as well as local teams such as Mainland Regional versus Washington Township and host Ocean City Red Raiders versus the Pleasantville Greyhounds.

Ocean City and Pleasantville will be playing at 7 pm Friday, thus marking the end of one of the state's oldest Thanksgiving rivalries.  The Red Raiders-Greyhounds Thanksgiving series dated back to 1921, making it New Jersey's 10th-oldest turkey day game, according to research

At least they are continuing the rivalry.  Barring a last-minute change to their schedules, Lower Cape May Regional and Middle Township will not be playing each other in the Anchor Bowl.  Once one of the area's top Thanksgiving traditions, the schools decided to move the game to September last season due to the stark schedule changes forced upon high school teams by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, but couldn't find room on this season's schedule.

The NJSIAA expanded the playoffs a year ago in order to crown state champions for the first time. As a result, the regular season starts in late August and ends on October 20.

The new schedule is nothing short of ludicrous.  Football is not a summer sport.  Teams should not be playing two games before players attend their first classes and the regular season shouldn't end before Halloween.

Legend in the making

It happens with the Eagles almost every year.  At some point during the preseason, at least one player rises up and becomes a fan favorite via impressive performances.

This season, it’s rookie quarterback Tanner McKee.

McKee, the Eagles’ sixth-round draft pick from Stanford University, entered Thursday’s preseason finale as the odds-on favorite to be the Birds’ No. 3 QB behind Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota.  Last week, McKee led the Eagles’ only two touchdown drives in an 18-18 tie with Cleveland while completing 10 of 18 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.  He’s moved ahead of Ian Book on the depth chart and has some fans even thinking he could replace Mariota as Hurts’ backup.

Mariota has struggled with the offense in the preseason, but has shown impressive running ability and would be a better choice to run the offense should Hurts be unable to play.

But there’s no denying McKee’s poise, leadership, and passing ability.

Boxing back in A.C.

Pro boxing returns to Atlantic City on Saturday with a card at Showboat Hotel Atlantic City.  Glassboro super-middleweight Derrick Webster (29-4, 14 KOs) will take on Christopher Pearson (17-3, 12 KOs), of Selma, Texas, in the eight-round main event.

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