OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club’s 26th Annual Canyon Kick-Off tournament gets underway next week with late registration and a captain’s meeting on Thursday before the first of three official fishing beginning next Friday.
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 next Friday. 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 next Sunday evening.
Last year, a record 89 boats participated in the Marlin Club’s Canyon Kick-Off tournament with nearly $70,000 in prize money doled out to the winners in various categories. The crew aboard the “Chasin’ Tails” took top honors in the Billfish Points division with 200 total points, while the “Kingfisher” came in second with 150 points and the “Instrinsic” came in third with 100 points.
The crew aboard the “Last Call” took first place in the Tuna Division with a 70-pounder, while the “Reel Direct” and the “Pool Party” shared second place each with a 64-pounder. The “Squid Nation” took the Dolphin Division with a 21-pounder; the “Lisa” won the Bluefin Division with a 61-pounder, and the “Seahunt” took first place in the Wahoo Division with a 44-pounder.