OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club’s 25th Annual Canyon Kick-off tournament got underway with the first of three official fishing days.
With the tuna bite staying hot all through the early summer season and sharks and billfish starting to show up in decent numbers, there should be plenty of action in this year’s Canyon Kick-off. Captains must choose to fish two of the three fishing days of the event, the first of which is today. The tournament wraps up with the last day of fishing on Sunday, July 8.
The tournament is divided into two basic divisions; the release division and the heaviest fish division. Cash awards will be given for first-, second, and third-place in the release division, which will target the various species of billfish caught in the canyons off the coast of the resort. Prizes will be awarded on a points system, with 100 points awarded for each white marlin, spearfish and sailfish released; and 150 points awarded for each blue marlin and swordfish released. To encourage conservation of the species, no points will be awarded for a boated billfish.
Cash prizes will also be awarded for first-, second-, and third-place in the heaviest fish division, which will reward anglers for bringing the largest and heaviest meatfish to the scales at the marina each day. Points will accumulate for each fish brought to the scales including the heaviest tuna (minimum 45 pounds), the heaviest wahoo (minimum 20 pounds) and the heaviest dolphin (minimum 15 pounds).
The participating boats can put their lines in the water at 8:30 a.m. each morning, and the gear has to be pulled from the water by 3:30 each afternoon. In the points division, fish will be caught and released, while in the heaviest fish division, potential winners will be brought to the scales for weighing.
Weigh-ins will take place each day at Sunset Marina on each of the three fishing days starting at around 5 p.m. until about 7:30 p.m. The event concludes with an awards banquet at the Ocean City Marlin Club at the foot of the commercial harbor in West Ocean City on Sunday evening.
Last year, the top prize in the tournament went to the crew aboard the “Chasin’ Tails” in the release division with two white marlin released worth $12,600. The “Size Matters” also released two white marlin during the event and earned $8,010 in prize money.
In the heaviest fish divisions last year, the “Lisa” took the top monetary prize with a 59-pound wahoo worth $12,398. The “Lisa” also took the top prize in the bluefin tuna division with a 127-pounder worth $5,626, bringing its total tournament winnings to just over $18,000.
The next highest cash prize in the heaviest fish divisions went to the “Wave Dancer” for a 36-pound dolphin worth $9,800. The “Chasin’ Tails” took second place in the dolphin division with a 34-pounder worth $1,559, bring the boat’s total earnings in the tournament to $14,159.
The Canyon Kick-off, held each year on or around the Fourth of July weekend, is the first significant event for the Marlin Club each year and serves as a prelude to the more high-profile tournaments of the season including the Ocean City Tuna Tournament next weekend and the White Marlin Open in August.