OCEAN CITY- After a sluggish start last Thursday, the 27th Annual Ocean City Shark Tournament ended up being one the biggest and best ever with a record 84 boats participating despite less than stellar weather and seas and the veiled threat of a protest hanging over the event.
The 27th Annual Ocean City Shark Tournament, held over four days last weekend, had a little bit of everything including big sharks weighed at the scales, scores more released, thousands of dollars in prize money awarded and hundreds of fans cramming into the Ocean City Fishing Center for what has become a festival of sport fishing, music, food and fun.
The one thing that never materialized was a planned protest of the event by a national activist group which, in recent weeks, called for putting a stop to the tournament and tournaments just like it up and down the coast because of the perceived cruelty to the sharks and the possible impact on their reportedly declining numbers. Instead, there was no protest and the annual tournament lived up to its reputation of being a fish-friendly, conservation and education-minded event. Over the three official fishing days, just 22 sharks were brought to the scales for weighing, while 82 were released.
The sharks that were brought to the scales resulted in thousands of dollars in prize money for several boats and anglers participating. First place in the Mako Division went to angler Jeff Phipps, fishing aboard the “Hammer,” with a 188-pound mako worth $25,111. Angler Andy Petrusis, fishing aboard the “Bitter Salt,” took second in the Mako Division with a 164-pounder worth $13,381. The crew aboard the “Seaduction” took third in the division with a 161-pound mako worth $7450, while fourth place and a check for $3,780 went to the crew aboard the “Reel Addiction” with a 154-pound mako.
The Open Division provided a lot of excitement over the weekend with several large thresher sharks brought to the scales. Taking first place in the Open Division was angler Tim Brinker and the crew aboard the “Carol’s Teakettle” with a 435-pound thresher worth $3,608.
However, the top cash prize in the Open Division went to the crew aboard the “Restless Lady” with 341-pound thresher caught on Saturday that finished second in terms of weight but first in terms of prize money because of added entry levels. The second-place thresher was worth $21,058 continued a run of good fortune in the Ocean City Shark Tournament for the “Restless Lady” crew, which came in third in the Mako Division last year.
Third place in the Open Division and a check for $7,089 went to the “Shark Tooth” with a 335-pound thresher. The “Shark Tooth” broke down after catching the thresher and had to be towed to the Fishing Center long after the scales had closed on Friday night. Rounding out the Open Division standings was a pair of blue sharks including a 199-pounder caught by the “Total Chaos” and a 183-pounder caught by the “Tree Hugger.”
Oddly enough, the largest payday for any boat participating in the tournament was awarded in the Bluefish Division. The crew aboard the “Eversman V” swept the division with three big bluefish and was awarded $25,822 in total prize money.
In the Release Division, first place and a check for $4,545 went to the crew aboard the “Imagine That” with five makos and one spinner shark released in two days of fishing. Second place in the division went to the crew aboard the “Non Typical” with two makos and six blue sharks released worth $3,045. The “Wave Dancer” took third place in the release division with two makos and one blue shark released and earned $1,000.
Finally, the Ocean City Sharker of the Year award, given to the team that accumulates the most points in both the Mako Mania and the Ocean City Shark Tournaments, went to Captain Chester Sadowski and the crew aboard the “Jezebel,” which accumulated 332 total points. Coming in second in the Sharker of the Year standings was Captain Luke Blume and the crew of the “Press Time” with 214 points.