- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

After Neptune, N.J., resident Monica Oswald caught a giant summer flounder in the ocean waters off Monmouth County, a series of events developed that has flounder fishing fanatics up and down the Atlantic Coast still in disbelief.

It’s not that anybody — yet — has challenged Oswald’s veracity, but enough questions are being asked to make people wonder.

In mid-August, Oswald brought a flounder into Scott’s Bait and Tackle in Bradley Beach, N.J., that tipped the shop’s certified scales at 24.3 pounds. That alone is enough to create envy among anglers who would brag if they hooked a 6-pounder.

The International Game Fish Association’s summer flounder world record already stands at an amazing 22 pounds, 7 ounces. It was caught by Charles Nappi 32 years ago, so it appears that Oswald’s fluke should be the world record in the IGFA “All Tackle” division.

But Jim Shepherd of the Internet’s Fishing Wire says Oswald has only herself to blame for any suspicion being raised. Although she’s an amateur angler, she could have taken better care of her catch.

“She didn’t even manage to keep the fish in one piece,” Shepherd said.

The tackle shop people who weighed the behemoth said it wasn’t in “optimum condition.” Oswald told them that her monster flounder was too big for the net that she carried in the 23-foot boat from which she was fishing. The fish slipped from the net, had to be re-netted, then fell on the deck, its tail getting damaged as she stood on it trying to get the hook from the fluke’s mouth. That wasn’t all.

The cooler aboard the boat wasn’t big enough to hold the flounder and during the trip back to shore the head and tail was damaged even more. The tackle shop said the head was nearly severed from the body.

But the fishing store’s employees agreed that the fish was fresh and did not appear to have come from a commercial netting operation, which would automatically disqualify it with the IGFA.

However, Oswald took the flounder home and left it in a cooler outside. The next day, she discovered the fish was gone, apparently pulled out by an animal. When found, the head and part of the body was missing. The only total evidence of her catch is a photo shot at the bait shop and several people who say they saw her catch it. Oswald, meanwhile, may have to take a polygraph test.

But if her flounder is accepted by the IGFA, she could win a $50,000 boat, offered by the Fisherman magazine’s “Dream Boat” contest.

Chilean visits another TU chapter — Noted author and flyfishing guide Gonzalo Cortes, of Santiago, Chile, will be at the Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited’s monthly meeting on Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Cortes will present a photographic journey of fishing the trout-rich waters of his homeland, from northern Patagonia to the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego.

The meeting is at the Schweinhaut Senior Center in Silver Spring. For more information, go to www.pptu.org or call Paul Vicenz at 240/338-7478. Cortes guide visits the National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited tonight at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Service Center. For more information, go to www.ncc-tu.org.

Learn how to hunt turkeys — The National Wild Turkey Federation is promoting “Mastering the Spring Hunt,” the first DVD from its Guardian of the Legacy video collection.

The NWTF says the DVD is action-packed and includes subjects such as proven hunting tips for locating tom turkeys, strategies for hunting call-shy and henpecked gobblers, tips on how to read mating rituals including gobbling, strutting and drumming, calling techniques for box, slate and diaphragm calls. You’ll see hunting footage featuring Osceola, Merriam and Rio Grande turkeys.

The price is $9.95. If you have questions about the offer, e-mail wildturkey@cust-serv.net or call 877/334-3537.

c Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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