MA500 Off to Fast Start

OCEAN CITY- The Mid-Atlantic $500,000 fishing tournament, based in Cape May, N.J. with a strong presence at Sunset Marina in West Ocean City, got underway in earnest this week with 141 boats vying for an estimated $1.8 million in total prize money.

Just two weeks after the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, considered the world’s largest billfish tournament, the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 officially got started on Monday with the first of five fishing days. Now in its 17th year, the MA500 continues to be one of the top sport fishing events in the region. Tournament headquarters has always been the Canyon Club in Cape May, and that hasn’t changed, but the annual event has a decidedly Ocean City flavor.

Five years ago, tournament organizers opened up Ocean City as a sister port and the change was met with great enthusiasm. For the first two years, any boat catching a qualifying fish had to chug up to the official weigh station in Cape May, but Sunset Marina was added as a second weigh station and a sister location for the tournament three years ago. The weigh-ins from each site are now visually linked via computer and broadcast media, which keeps everybody at both venues abreast of what is coming in at Ocean City and Cape May.

Nearly all of the 141 boats participating in the tournament this year fished on Monday including the 39 enrolled from Ocean City, and the leader board in almost every category was filled up on Day One. However, almost all of the action took place at Cape May with few qualifying fish weighed at Ocean City.

On Tuesday, just 42 boats combined went out the canyons off the mid-Atlantic coast and no changes were recorded on the leader board. With three full fishing days to go, however, everything is likely to change including a strong showing by the Ocean City fleet.

After two full days, the “Anthracite” out of New Jersey sat atop the leader board in the white marlin category with a 75-pounder weighed on Monday. The “Hullabaloo” also out of New Jersey was in second with a 73-pound white, while the “Covert Mission” settled into the third spot with a 72-pound white.

Just one blue marlin was weighed in the first two days of the tournament, but it was a big one. The crew aboard the “Impulse V” weighed a nice 719-pound blue marlin on Monday to take the early lead in the category. The “Runaway” led the tuna category after two days with an 80-pounder and a 77-pounder to take the top two spots. The “Got Walls” was in second with a 75-pounder.

The “Anthracite” was leading the dolphin division after two days with a 43-pounder, while the “Raging Bull” topped the wahoo division with a 35-pounder.