OCEAN CITY- A new offshore fishing tournament on the resort’s slate for next week is new in the sense that this will be its first year, but old in the sense that it will evoke Ocean City’s century-old sportfishing past.
The Big Fish Classic is set for July 25-27 on the pier at Talbot Street, which is essentially the epicenter for Ocean City’s rich fishing history. In the nascent days of the town’s fishing history, historic Talbot Street was always where the action was taking place with offshore boats unloading epic catches of billfish and tuna on the docks.
In the decades since, marinas have sprouted up all over the resort area and in West Ocean City, but Talbot Street is where it all began. In that spirit, the new Big Fish Classic is a two-day, 32-hour tournament where the largest fish caught of any species will be rewarded. There are several categories for which anglers and boats will be rewarded, but the essence of the event is bringing the biggest fish to the historic Talbot Street docks.
The event gets started on Friday, July 25 with late registration, a captain’s meeting and kickoff party at host M.R. Ducks. Participating boats can leave the sea buoy at 3 a.m. on Saturday, July 25 with lines in the water at 7 a.m. Lines have to be out of the water by 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 27. In between, participating boats can choose to fish both days, or stay out overnight for the entire 32-hour period.
Participating boats can depart from any port from New Jersey to Virginia, but qualifying fish have to be weighed at Talbot Street. The boats must fish within 100 nautical miles of Ocean City, however. The scale at Talbot Street is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Each day will feature a festival of big fish, live music, food and drink in and around the Talbot Street Pier at M.R. Ducks and the historic Angler restaurant. The Angler will host the awards banquet on Sunday, July 27. Incidentally, the Angler was issued the first-ever building permit for a dock on the bayside in Ocean City over 70 years ago.
There are several divisions in the tournament with a guaranteed payout of $20,000 and with added optional entry levels the total purse doled out will likely soar. The tournament has several divisions, including the largest fish weighed during the two-day event, whether it’s a tuna, shark, wahoo or mahi, for example. There is also a winner take all white marlin division, a top three heaviest fish division and heaviest tuna, dolphin, wahoo or shark division.