OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Marlin Club’s 54th Annual Labor Day White Marlin Tournament officially got underway today with the first of three official fishing days.
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 this morning 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 p.m. The event got underway last night with a captain’s meeting and registration.
Last year, in the billfish release division, it was the crew on the “D.A. Sea” taking first place with 1,400 total points, followed closely by the “Reel Joy” with 1,200 total points and the “Billfisher” with 800 points. The “Reel Joy” crew took the daily billfish release division on Day One with eight white marlin releases, while the “D.A. Sea” took the daily billfish release division on Day Two with nine white marlin releases. Over 70 billfish were released during the tournament.
Each boat was awarded $5,175 in prize money for their daily release division victories. However, it was the “D.A. Sea” taking the tournament’s biggest prize with a check for $13,815 for the billfish release Calcutta. The “Reel Joy” was second and earned $1,269, while the “Billfisher was third and earned $846.
In the tuna division, it was angler Susan McCart taking first place with a 62.2-pounder worth $6,396, while angler Barbara Wilson on the “Last Straw” took second in the tuna division with a 33.2-pounder worth $621.19.
In the dolphin division, angler Merritt Robbins on the “Predator” took first with a 29.2-pounder, while Peter Coggins on the “Par Five” was second with a 25.6-pounder and Al Rittmeyer, also on the “Predator” was third with a 23.4-pounder. However, the “Billfisher” crew weighed three dolphin at 20.6-pounds, 18.2-pounds and 14 pounds and was awarded an additional $3,387 in prize money. Finally, Jonathan Duffie on the “Billfisher” was honored with the Master Angler Award for self-hooking three white marlin.