OCEAN CITY- The 13th Annual Mako Mania shark tournament gets underway next week with dozens of boats and teams of anglers expected to participate 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 the resort, 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 should be no different.
Last weekend, the first mako of the year was caught by a boat fishing out of Ocean City, a 185-pounder taken way off the coast. There have also been some reports of a few big thresher sharks in the area along with some tuna spotted, although not caught yet. Most of the action thus far has been relegated to the canyons to the south as warm water slowly makes its way up the coast, bringing the fish with it.
Last year, 44 boats participated in the annual Mako Mania, which paid out over $75,000 in prize money. All in all, 18 makos and two big threshers were caught during the tournament. The top prize went to the “Press Time” with Captain Luke Blume and angler Jeff Kowalski with a 226-pound mako worth over $38,000. Second-place went to the crew aboard the “Salty Sons,” while the “Wayne’s World” was third and the “Playmate” was fourth. The two big threshers caught included a 506-pounder caught by the “Marli” and a 436-pounder caught by the crew on the “Barbed Wire.”
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 “It’ll Do” took the W.W. Harman Award and earned a check for $1,000.