OCEAN CITY- While it may lack the glamour and high payouts of the White Marlin Open, the Ocean City Marlin Club’s 53rd Annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament, which gets underway next weekend, trumps all others in terms of history and prestige.
Called the “granddaddy” of the resort area fishing tournaments, the annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament is the oldest among the tournaments held in and around the resort area each summer. The first was held in 1958 and the annual event has endured for five-plus decades and several generations of local anglers.
The tournament gets underway next Friday with the first of three fishing days. As the name implies, the focus of the tournament is on white marlin, but unlike other high-dollar tournaments in recent weeks, there won’t be any billfish weighed at the scale at host Sunset Marina. The tournament’s winner will accumulate the most release points over the three days of fishing.
In addition to the billfish release division, there will also be separate meatfish divisions for tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Cash prizes will be paid out to the top three finishers in each category and the weigh-ins will be held each day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Sunset Marina from 5 p.m. p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event gets underway next Thursday, September 1, with registration and a captain’s meeting at the Marlin Club beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Last year, first place in the billfish release division went to the crew on the “Grande Pez” with 16 white marlin releases worth a tournament-high $5,190 payout. The crew on the “Fin-ness” also released 16 whites during the tournament, but settled for second place and a $1,765 payday because of the timing of their last catch. Third place in the release division went to “Spike’s Boat” with 14 white marlin releases worth $600 in prize money. Carole Speicher, fishing aboard “Spike’s Boat,” was honored with the Master Angler award for 13 white marlin releases of her own.
The crew on the “Par Five” took fourth place in the billfish release division with 10 white marlin releases, while the “Last Straw” crew took fifth place with 10 marlin releases, the last of which was caught later than the last release on the “Par Five.”
In the various meatfish divisions, a handful of boats swept most of the major awards. The crew on the “Last Call” swept the yellowfin tuna division with a 74.4-pounder, a 72.4-pounder and a 64.6-pounder taking first, second and third place respectively.