OCEAN CITY- The 13th Annual Mako Mania shark tournament got underway this morning with dozens of boats and teams of anglers competing in the first significant offshore tournament in the summer-long series of events in Ocean City.
With warm water starting to show up in the canyons off the coast of the resort, the early offshore fishing season is starting to heat up just in time for the annual Mako Mania tournament hosted by Bahia Marina. Sharks of all sizes and species are typically the first game fish to arrive off the coast of the resort and this year should be no different.
Over the last two weeks or so, a handful of makos and scores of blue sharks have been caught in the waters off the coast of the resort along with a couple of big threshers, signaling the fish are arriving just in time for the annual Mako Mania tournament. At first, most of the boats were chugging to the canyons to the south to find warm water, but the water in closer proximity to Ocean City has started to warm up gradually, bringing game fish like shark, dolphin and tuna with it.
Last year, 44 boats participated in the annual Mako Mania, which paid out over $75,000 in prize money. All in all, 18 makos and two big threshers were caught during the tournament. The top prize went to the “Press Time” with Captain Luke Blume and angler Jeff Kowalski with a 226-pound mako worth over $38,000. Second-place went to the crew aboard the “Salty Sons,” while the “Wayne’s World” was third and the “Playmate” was fourth. The two big threshers caught included a 506-pounder caught by the “Marli” and a 436-pounder caught by the crew on the “Barbed Wire.”
While the event is all about fishing, and particularly sharks, as its name implies, the activity on land is no less exciting. Curiosity seekers will cram into Bahia Marina each afternoon during the tournament for a chance to see a potential winning shark raised at the scale in what has become a festival of sorts celebrating the arrival of another summer offshore fishing season.
The event got underway yesterday with a captains’ meeting with the first of three official fishing days starting early this morning. Other fishing days include Saturday and Sunday, and the boats and their captains must choose to fish two of the three fishing days. Mako sharks are the featured species in the tournament although there are also divisions for threshers and bluefish, for example.
Like most tournaments in the area, the conservation of the various species is paramount to success, and to that end, an award and a check for $1,000 is given out for the most shark releases called the W.W. Harman Award. Last year, the “It’ll Do” took the W.W. Harman Award and earned a check for $1,000.