OCEAN CITY- The 21st Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament got underway this morning when hundreds of boats and thousands of anglers chugged out to the canyons off the coast for the first of three official fishing days.
Tuna of all shapes, sizes and species have arrived in the waters off Ocean City in the last few weeks, jumpstarting the summer offshore season and setting the tone for what could be a memorable tournament. The event got underway yesterday with a captain’s meeting and late registration before the first of three fishing days today.
The annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament is one of the highlights of the summer offshore tournament season each year, second only perhaps to the White Marlin Open in terms of prize money awarded and the number of boats and anglers participating. Thousands of spectators will cram into the Ocean City Fishing Center for the four-day event, which has become a celebration of fishing, food, live music and, of course, the daily weigh-ins at the scale.
From modest beginnings in 1988, when just 38 boats participated and a mere $9,000 in prize money was doled out to the winners, the Ocean City Tuna Tournament has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two decades. For example, last year 139 boats chugged out to the canyons off the coast to vie for the roughly $689,000 in prize money awarded.
At stake again this year in the 21st Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament are hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money in several categories. As the name suggests, the event is largely about tuna, but there will also be prize money awarded in several other categories including billfish and dolphin, for example. The tuna tournament will award cash prizes in two major categories: the largest single fish brought to the scale at the Ocean City Fishing Center; and the most total pounds caught over the three fishing days.
Last year, the suspense built all weekend as the teams that weighed big fish early in the tournament watched as boat after boat unloaded their catches at the scales.
When the drama ended, a mere single pound separated first place from second place in the heaviest tuna division resulting in a difference in cash payout of $351,147 for first place and $64,540 for second place. Ocean City’s own “Press Time,” with Captain Luke Blume, took first in heaviest tuna category with a 184-pounder caught by angler Ted D’Anna worth $351,197. The “Press Time” just edged the “Let it Ride,” which hung a 183-pounder worth $66,040. The second-place single largest tuna caught on the “Let it Ride” was Third-place in the heaviest single tuna category and a check for $37,582 went to the “Cyntinory” and local angler Terry Layton.
The Heaviest Total Weight category also produced its share of drama with the crew aboard the “Instigator” taking first place with 790 total pounds and earned a check for $134,365. Second-place in the Heaviest Total Weight category went to the crew aboard the “Rhonda’s Osprey,” which finished with 510 total pounds after weighing two big tuna that came in around 290 pounds late Sunday.
The team on the “Rhonda’s Osprey,” which included several local business owners, earned over $56,000 for their second-place finish. Coming in third in the heaviest total weight division was the crew aboard the “Longfin” with 477 pounds, good enough for an $11,300 pay day.