OCEAN CITY – The 20th Annual Ocean City Tuna Tournament, which wrapped up Sunday evening at the Ocean City Fishing Center, was one for the books with a record number of boats participating and a record payout to the winners in several categories.
The suspense built all weekend as the teams that weighed big fish early in the tournament watched as boat after boat unloaded their catches at the scales. When the drama ended, a mere single pound separated first place from second place in the heaviest tuna division resulting in a difference in cash payout of $351,147 for first place and $64,540 for second place.
Ocean City’s own “Press Time,” with Captain Luke Blume, took first in heaviest tuna category with a 184-pounder, just edging the “Let it Ride,” which hung a 183-pounder. Twelve-year-old Charlie Gravina was the angler who caught the 183-pound second place tuna on the “Let it Ride” and was named Top Junior Angler in the tournament.
After the 183-pound tuna was officially weighed, tournament officials weighed Gravina, who came in at around 110 pounds. Third-place in the heaviest single tuna category and a check for $37,582 went to the “Cyntinory” and local angler Terry Layton.
The Heaviest Total Weight category also produced its share of drama with the crew aboard the “Instigator” taking first place with 790 total pounds and earned a check for $134,365. The “Instigator” was a sentimental favorite because a long-time friend of the crew who often fished with them in tournaments recently passed away and they wove hair from his head into the lures they used so he could be with them one more time.
Second-place in the Heaviest Total Weight category went to the crew aboard the “Rhonda’s Osprey,” which finished with 510 total pounds after weighing two big tuna that came in around 290 pounds late Sunday. The team on the “Rhonda’s Osprey,” which included several local business owners, earned over $56,000 for their second-place finish. Coming in third in the heaviest total weight division was the crew aboard the “Longfin” with 477 pounds, good enough for an $11,300 pay day.
Angler John Bogdon, fishing aboard the “Warrior,” caught the heaviest dolphin. Joyce McClelland-Collins, fishing aboard the “Margarita,” was the Top Lady Angler with a 157-pound tuna.
See Friday’s print and online editions of The Dispatch for a complete wrap-up and plenty of photos.