Lightning Strikes Twice for “Reel Joy” with Late Win in MA500

OCEAN CITY- Lightning struck twice in a couple of different ways last week at the conclusion of the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 tournament with a record-tying 92-pound white marlin caught by a boat fishing out of Ocean City swooping in to take the event’s top prize for the second straight year and the same boat winning a tournament held in the resort for the second week in a row.

When the “Reel Joy” out of Ocean City hauled a record-tying 92-pound white marlin up the scale on the final day of the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 tournament last Friday, there had to be feelings of déjà vu for everybody on the boat and for tournament organizers, participants and fans for several reasons. The 92-pound white marlin caught by angler Susan McCart aboard the “Reel Joy” weighed on the last day of the tournament last Friday leaped to the top spot in the glamour division’s leader board and knocked several boats fishing out of the event’s sister port in Cape May down in the standings and the prize money.

Practically the exact same set of circumstances occurred in the 2007 version of the MA500 when another Ocean City boat, the “Phat Mann” weighed a tournament record 92-pound white marlin in the 11th hour of the last day to leapfrog into the top spot on the leader board and take the event’s top prize. The 92-pound white caught by the “Reel Joy” tied the tournament record 92-pounder caught by the “Phat Mann” the year before to take MA500’s top prize and stun the New Jersey-dominated field for the second year in a row.

As if that wasn’t enough of a coincidence, Captain Dale Gurgo and the crew aboard the “Reel Joy” had just won the Poor Girl’s Open tournament in Ocean City the week before, with Susan McCart and the other lady anglers releasing four white marlins including two by young Taylor McCart to win the event’s top prize. In the span of less than a week, the “Reel Joy” crew took the top prize in two major offshore fishing tournaments in the area, the second coming in dramatic fashion on the last day of the MA500.

With its 92-pound white marlin, the “Reel Joy” took first place in the MA500’s white marlin division and was awarded a check for $699,306. The “Dealer’s Choice” was second with an 88-pound white marlin worth $124,955, while the “Miss Annie” took third and was awarded $68,747.

After a relatively slow first few days, action heated up in the MA500’s last hours with hundreds of white marlin caught and released and a handful brought to the scales for weighing. All in all, 29 white marlin were landed during the tournament and 355 were released, bringing the total to 384 for the tournament. For the record, the White Marlin Open winner “Fish Whistle” had another great tournament with several releases and one 72-pound white weighed at the scale at Sunset Marina, although it did not finish in the money.

There were far less blue marlin caught and released or weighed at the scale during the tournament, although there was no shortage of drama. The “Impulse V” weighed a 719-pound blue on the tournament’s first day and the big fish held up all week to take the top prize and a check for $192,622. The “Kwik Raze” was second with a 625-pounder worth $124,955, while the “Atomic” finished third with a 501-pounder and was awarded $62,477.

The “Runaway” took first place in the tuna division with an 80-pounder and third place with a 77-pounder and earned a combined $250,277 for the two fish. Wedged in between was the “Exile,” which took second place with a 78-pound tuna and earned $47,540. The “Anthracite” took first place in the dolphin division with a 43-pounder and earned $41,300, while the “Sea Cure” took first in the wahoo division with a 74-pounder and was rewarded with a check for $10,000.