OCEAN CITY- The 1st Annual Branch Kreppel Blue Marlin Tournament, named for a beloved local angler and diver who passed away unexpectedly last fall, is underway off the coast of the resort for the first of three fishing days today.
As an avid diver and owner of Diver Services, Kreppel was a popular man around the marinas in the resort area and often kept the local sportfishing fleet up and running. He passed away in November and the first-ever blue marlin tournament in his name, which got underway today, is one small way to honor his endless contributions to the community.
The tournament got started with registration and a captain’s meeting yesterday at Sunset Marina in West Ocean City. Captains and teams of anglers must choose to fish two of the three official fishing days, which run today through Sunday.
As the name of the event implies, blue marlin are the main species targeted in the tournament, which could become an annual precursor to the prestigious White Marlin Open a week later. The minimum size requirements for a captured blue marlin in the tournament is 400 pounds and 105 inches in length.
Each qualifying blue marlin brought to the scale at Sunset Marina will be awarded one point per pound. Each blue marlin released will be awarded 200 points. Other billfish releases will also be rewarded, with 20 points awarded for each white marlin, spearfish or swordfish released. There will also be several meatfish categories including awards for the heaviest tuna, dolphin and wahoo.
As the tournament’s name suggests, the main focus of the event is on the blue marlin and the rules have been established for big game fish. In the event a boated blue marlin meets the minimum length requirement but does not meet weight, a 100-point penalty will be assessed. If a boated blue marlin doesn’t meet either minimum requirement, a 200-point penalty will be assessed.
While the action offshore will certainly be the center of attention for the tournament, the activities at the docks should be no less exciting. The weigh-ins at the scale at Sunset Marina will be held each fishing day from 4-9 p.m. There will also be plenty of the associated food, drink, music and favorite stories associated with the tournament’s namesake.
The awards banquet and live auction to benefit the Branch Kreppel Foundation will be held under the tent at Sunset Marina on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds from the tournament and auction will go to a foundation in Kreppel’s name to help support his family. The awards ceremony and live auction is open to those who did not participate in the tournament for a $10 donation.