OCEAN CITY- The 28th Annual Ocean City Shark Tournament went off without a hitch last weekend with three outstanding days of fishing off the coast of the resort.
Although the number of boats and the amount of prize money paid out was down from last year’s record-setting tournament, there was plenty of action offshore and at the marina during the 2008 event. Sixty-one boats participated this year compared to 83 last year, and the total payout this year was $125,818 compared to roughly $147,000 in 2007, but the slight declines did nothing to tarnish what was once again an outstanding event.
This year’s version had a little bit of everything including a big sharks of all sizes and species weighed at the scales, dozens more released, thousands of dollars in prize money awarded and hundreds of fans cramming into the host Ocean City Fishing Center for what has become a festival of sport fishing, music, food and fun. While 14 sharks were brought to the scales for weighing over the three official fishing days, the tournament lived up to its fish-friendly and educated-minded reputation with 134 other sharks released.
Of the 14 sharks weighed at the scales, eight were makos. There were also four blue sharks weighed at the scales as well as one hammerhead and one thresher.
The sharks that were brought into 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 Tony Gay fishing aboard the “Gag Order,” who landed a 244-pounder worth $7,950. As it often happens in fishing tournaments, however, the first-place fish in terms of weight is not always first in terms of prize money because of added entry levels.
For example, angler Jeff Schulte fishing aboard the “It’ll Do II” caught the second-place mako at 209 pounds but was awarded the most prize money in the division at $16,485. Third place in the mako division went to angler Cory Carrell aboard the “Seaduction” with a 136-pounder worth $12,079.
The Open Division followed a different pattern with the top shark in terms of weight earning the most prize money. Angler Nathanial Leader fishing aboard the “Keep Er Wet” landed a 273-pound hammerhead for the top spot in the division and a check for $19,965. Angler Bud Fogg fishing aboard the “Contagious” hauled in a 268-pound thresher for second place in the open division and a check for $3,984. Local angler Larry Trala of Berlin took third place in the open division with a 237-pound blue shark caught aboard the “Chasin’ Tails” worth $10,352 with added entry levels.
As the name implies, sharks are the main targeted species in the annual tournament, but there was plenty of action in the other divisions of the event. Oddly enough, the bluefish division produced some of the larger pay days in terms of prize money.
For example, angler Brian Kaluatis fishing aboard the “No Limits” hauled in an 11.6-pound bluefish for first place in the division and a check for $5,535. However, angler Corey Curleu fishing aboard the “Seaduction” brought in a 10.2-pounder worth $16,046, and Ron Perdue fishing aboard the “Eversmen 5” brought in a 9.9-pound bluefish for third place in the division but was awarded $9,330 because of added entry levels.
First place in the tuna division went to angler Charlie Burris, Jr. aboard the “Marli” with a 23-pound bluefin worth $1,530. Of course, conservation is a hallmark of the Ocean City Shark Tournament and cash prizes were awarded to the boats that released the most sharks over the three-day event. First place in the release division and a check for $4,260 went to the “Canyon Crusher” with 54 release points. The “Tree Hugger” was second with 32 points and earned $1,500, while the “Bitter Salt” was third with 26 points 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 Ocean City Shark Tournaments, went to Captain Luke Blume and the crew aboard the “Press Time,” which accumulated 256 total points combined in the two events.