‘Phat Mann’ Takes Mid-Atlantic 500

OCEAN CITY- After nearly a week of dreary weather and less than stellar fishing action, the 2007 Mid-Atlantic $500,000 tournament, hosted jointly by Cape May, N.J. and Ocean City, finished with a flourish with a whopping 92-pound white marlin weighed at Sunset Marina taking the event’s top prize on the last day.

The tournament began last Monday amid rainy weather and rough seas and most of the nearly 170 boats participating remained at the docks in the sister marinas of the Canyon Club in Cape May and Sunset Marina in West Ocean City during the early part of the week. Just as in the White Marlin Open, captains must choose to fish three of the five scheduled days, and while many reluctantly got an early day or two in last week, just about everybody saved the best for last when the weather and the seas in both ports improved dramatically.

Just about every position on the leader board had been filled out by mid-week, but with most boats saving one or two fishing days until the end, it was expected the standings would be erased and re-written again at the finish. Only the tuna division stood up all week with the eventual first- and second-place tuna caught on day one of the tournament.

In the white marlin division, a handful of fish in the mid 60-pound range swapped spots on the leader board through mid-week, but everything changed dramatically at the end. On Friday, the last day of fishing, angler Charlie Locke, fishing aboard the “Phat Mann” with Captain Dave Warren, hauled in a remarkable 92-pound white marlin to win the glamour division and the tournament’s top prize, a check for over $750,000.

The 92-pound white marlin caught by the “Phat Mann” was a new tournament record, eclipsing the old mark of 91 pounds set in 2003. By comparison, the winning white marlin in this year’s White Marlin Open was 83 pounds. The WMO record is 99 pounds set in 1980. The Ocean City record is around 130 pounds.

Finishing in second place in the white marlin category was the “Rampageous” and Captain Josh Foster with a 77-pounder caught on Thursday worth nearly $137,000. The third-place white marlin- a 69-pounder caught by the “Gina Lisa”- was also weighed on the tournament’s last day and was worth just under $68,000.

The MA500’s blue marlin division also provided its share of drama with one boat, the “Island Girl” taking to top two spots on the board to dominate the division. The “Island Girl” weighed a 524-pound blue on Wednesday last week to take the early lead in the division and topped its own mark with a 536-pound blue marlin on Friday.

The “Island Girl” won a combined $327,175 for first- and second-place in the blue marlin division. Coming in third was the “Judge” with a 414-pound blue caught on Friday worth just under $68,000. In one of the tournament’s more disappointing moments, the crew aboard the “Grander” weighed a 700-pound-plus blue marlin at Sunset Marina on Friday, but the fish was disqualified because it had been damaged by the vessel’s prop.

In the tuna division, a 212-pound big eye caught aboard the “Big Kid” on day one held up all week and earned the captain and crew nearly $230,000. Taking second place in the division was the “Mehl Ticket” with a 172-pound big-eye, also caught on day one, worth $186,000. Coming in third in the tuna division was the “Reel Class” with a 168-pounder worth nearly $63,000.

Ocean City’s own “Cyntinory” with Captain Val Lynch took first place in the wahoo division with a 77-pounder worth $10,000. The “Nightwind” took the dolphin category with a 39-pounder also worth $10,000.

The boats fishing out of Ocean City really shined in the release divisions with several boats claiming top spots. For example, the “Fin-Ness” out of Ocean City won most points overall with 750 and also took second in the most white marlin release points with 600. The “Lethal Weapon,” also out of Ocean City, took first place in white marlin points with 675, while the “Always Late” out of Ocean City took second in most blue marlin points with 300.