OCEAN CITY – Le 35e Ocean City’s annual tuna tournament is underway with dozens of boats and hundreds of anglers scouring the canyons off the resort for the burly behemoths.
The Tuna Bite has been strong this summer so far, setting up what should be a memorable Ocean City Tuna Tournament in its 35e year. The event began Thursday with a captains meeting and later a registration at the Ocean City Fishing Center, but the real action is on Friday, the first of three fishing days.
The annual Ocean City Tuna tournament is one of the highlights of the offshore tournament season each year, perhaps second only to the White Marlin Open in terms of prize money and number of anglers participating. Thousands of spectators will pack into the Ocean City Fishing Center over the weekend for the four-day event, a celebration of fishing, food, drink, entertainment and, of course, weigh-ins. daily. Weigh-ins will take place Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fishing Center and Sunset Marina, and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday at the Fishing Center only.
From humble beginnings in 1988, when just 38 boats competed for $9,000 in prize money, the Tuna Tournament has grown by leaps and bounds over the years.
Last year a tropical storm passed and the tournament went according to plan, essentially reduced to a Saturday and Sunday event. Nevertheless, there was plenty of action during the two days of fishing with plenty of big scaled tuna at the fishing center. The event attracted 106 boats and over $1 million in prizes were distributed to winners.
In the heaviest tuna category, the Hydrosphere crew took first place with a 233-pounder worth $93,787. The Tara Jessica finished second with a 199-pounder worth $30,802, while the Instigator finished third with a 170-pounder worth $59,865.
In the heaviest string category, the Big Stick took first place with a total of 638 pounds and took home a tournament-high prize of $305,880. The Big Stick continued their early season wins after finishing first in the Canyon Kickoff tournament the previous weekend. The Bar South crew finished second in the heaviest ropes category at 562 pounds and won $64,395 in prize money, while the Hydrosphere crew finished third in the heaviest ropes category.
In the heaviest dolphin category, the Christine Marie took first place with a 20-pounder worth $27,070. Robert Warden finished first and second in the junior angler category, while Jackson Morgan took third place. Kristin Quinn was the top angler, while JL Cropper was second and Danielle Robertson and Janine Samuel tied for third.