OCEAN CITY- The resort area’s collective hangover from last week’s White Marlin Open has just about worn off in time for the next big event on the summer sportfishing calendar- the Mid-Atlantic $500,000, a Cape May, N.J.-based tournament that will again have a strong presence in Ocean City again this year.
Now in its 16th year, the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 continues to be one of the top sport fishing events in the region with an anticipated $2 million in prize money expected to be doled out this year. Tournament headquarters has always been the Canyon Club in Cape May, and that hasn’t changed, but the increased number of boats from the resort area has given the event a decidedly Ocean City flair.
Four years ago, MA500 organizers opened up Ocean City as a second port from which to fish and the change was met with great enthusiasm. For the first two years, however, any Ocean City boat that caught a qualifying fish had to transport it to the official scales in Cape May.
Two years ago, however, Sunset Marina in West Ocean City was added as an official sister port for the event and local anglers participating in the MA500 began to weigh potentially winning fish at their home port. The weigh-ins from each site are now visually linked via computer and broadcast media, which keeps everybody at both venues abreast of what is coming in at Ocean City and Cape May.
As a result, the number of boats and anglers participating in the MA500, as well as the number of spectators at Sunset Marina, continues to climb. From just a handful in 2003, the number of Ocean City boats in the tournament rose to about 50 last year with more expected to participate this year.
The MA500 gets underway on Monday with the first of five fishing days. Like the White Marlin Open, captains will choose to fish three of the five days. Prizes will be awarded in several categories including white marlin, blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo. There will also be significant cash prizes awarded in several release divisions.