OCEAN CITY- The second annual Black Friday 550 Rockfish Tournament held last weekend was a huge success with dozens of anglers earning thousands of dollars in prize money and a large amount of funds raised for a worthy local charity.
Promoted as an alternative to avoid holiday shopping and large crowds, the second annual Black Friday 550 Rockfish Tournament was held out of the Ocean City Fishing Center last Friday and Saturday with 16 boats participating. Last year’s inaugural event drew just 10 boats, but with mild temperatures and relative calm seas in and around the resort area, conditions were ripe to expand on the success of last year’s tournament.
As the name of the event implies, the only species targeted during the tournament will be rockfish, or striped bass. Each of the 16 boats were able to weigh four total rockfish within the 36-hour fishing period and the designated captain was responsible for determining which of a boat’s four largest fish should be weighed.
Cash prizes for the largest rockfish weighed were awarded at different intervals during the event. Taking first place in the tournament was Team Jolbecca of Ocean City, which won $3,898 for a 22.6-pound striper caught by angler Greg Rittershofer. Second place went to Team Bitter Salt out of Pasadena, Md. with a 21.8-pound rockfish caught by Delaware native John Morton. Second-place prize money came in at $1,892.
Finally, third place in the Black Friday tournament went to Team Wave Dancer of Ocean City with a 16.6-pound rock caught by angler Chuck Wenzel worth $1,210. The total prize money awarded in the tournament this year was $7,000, up from around $4,700 last year. Two junior anglers were also rewarded with custom fishing rods including Marshall Freng, fishing aboard the “Get Sum,” who weighed a 16.2-pound rockfish; and Michael Murray of Ocean City, who caught a 12.6-pound rock.
While the participating anglers enjoyed the two-day event including, of course, the fishing along with tournament parties and an award banquet, perhaps the biggest winner was the Autistic Children’s Support Group of Worcester County, which was the beneficiary of the fundraising event. All in all, the tournament raised $5,510 for the group through donations, raffles and silent auctions.