OCEAN CITY- The 12th Annual Mako Mania shark tournament gets underway next week with dozens of boats and teams of anglers competing in the first significant offshore tournament in the summer-long series of events in Ocean City.
With warm water starting to show up in the canyons off the coast of Ocean City, the early offshore fishing season is starting to heat up just in time for the annual Mako Mania tournament hosted by Bahia Marina. Sharks of all sizes and species are typically the first game fish to arrive off the coast of the resort and this year has been no different.
Other warm water game fish such as tuna and dolphin are still making their way north although a handful of charter captains have made the trip about 90 miles south to find them with some success. Sharks, however, are starting to appear in the canyons off the coast of the resort in decent numbers, just in time for next week’s Mako Mania event.
Last year, 41 boats and 173 anglers entered the annual Mako Mania tournament, which ended with over $45,000 in prize money doled out to the winners in several categories. One of the highlights of last year’s event was the 468-pound thresher shark caught on day one of the tournament by the crew aboard the “Shelly II.” The thresher held on for the next three days as the largest shark weighed at the scale in the tournament.
However, as its name implies, the Mako Mania tournament is all about makos and that’s where the big money was doled out last year. The top prize in the tournament went to the “Jezebel,” with Captain Chester Sadowski and angler Doug Mazullo, for a 196.5-pound mako worth over $29,000.
While the event is all about fishing, and particularly sharks, as its name implies, the activity on land is no less exciting. Curiosity seekers will cram into Bahia Marina each afternoon during the tournament for a chance to see a potential winning shark raised at the scale in what has become a festival of sorts celebrating the arrival of another summer offshore fishing season.
The event gets started next Thursday with a captains’ meeting with the first of three official fishing days set for next Friday. Other fishing days include Saturday and Sunday, and the boats and their captains must choose to fish two of the three fishing days. Mako sharks are the featured species in the tournament although there are also divisions for threshers and bluefish, for example.
Like most tournaments in the area, the conservation of the various species is paramount to success, and to that end, an award and a check for $1,000 is given out for the most shark releases called the W.W. Harman Award. Last year, the “Tail to Tale” took the W.W. Harman Award with 17 shark releases.