OCEAN CITY- The 27th Ocean City Tuna Tournament held last weekend lived up to the hype with plenty of big tuna and hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money doled out to the winners in several categories.
After a relatively quiet Friday, the first day of the tournament, the action heated up on Saturday with the leaderboard filling up in nearly every category. Making the biggest splash on Saturday was the 249-pound big-eye caught by angler John Hughes on the “Espadon” that set the bar remarkably high for the rest of the event. During last year’s epic Ocean City Tuna Tournament, big-eye after big-eye were hauled to the scale at host Ocean City Fishing Center throughout the entire weekend with “No Quarter” taking the top prize with a 253-pounder.
The 249-pound big-eye weighed by the “Espadon” crew last Saturday was no less impressive and set the state for a dramatic Sunday finish as a handful of challengers were brought to the scale. Angler Clint Senior on the “Game Over” weighed a huge big-eye on Sunday that appeared to have a chance to unseat the “Espadon” atop the leaderboard, but it came in a 183 pounds. Angler Jeremy Gers on the “MJ’s” also weighed a 165-pound big-eye on Sunday to cozy into third place in the single largest tuna category.
When the dust settled, it was the “Espadon” taking first place in the single heaviest tuna category with its 249-pounder and was awarded a tournament-high $273,715 in prize money. The “Game Over” finished second in the category and was awarded $42,000 in prize money, while the “MJ’s” was third and earned $24,805.
The heaviest stringer weight division also produced its share of drama throughout the weekend with the leaderboard erased and rewritten several times. In the end, after three days and dozens of big stringers weighed, the division came down to a dead heat between the “Marli” and the “Restless Lady,” each with two-day stringers weighing 311 pounds. The “Marli” and the “Restless Lady” shared first place in the division and each was awarded $56,810 in prize money. Third place went to the crew on the “Billfisher,” which weighed a two-day total stringer of 271 pounds and was awarded $25,705 in prize money.
In the dolphin division, angler Joe Zuramski on the “Moxie Boys” took first place with a 34-pounder worth $27,340. Angler Mike Cusimano on the “Reel Desire” took second with a 25-pounder and earned $1,000. Greg Smith on the “Spring Mix II” took third with a 22-pounder and earned $500 in prize money.
Hugh Thomas Cropper on the “Myra HT” won the Junior Angler Award and took home a check for $1,000. First place in the Lady Angler category went to Susan Menchaca on the “Wrecker.” The award for the single largest tuna on a boat under 40 feet went to angler Joe Bradley on the “Crabby” with an 87-pounder worth $2,700. First place in the heaviest stringer for a boat under 40-feet went to the crew on the “Sandra Ann,” which was also awarded $2,700.